Ice cream scientist holding ice cream creation

Occupation: Ice Cream Scientist

What it’s like to get paid to create and eat Ice Cream


Growing up with a chemistry set and an EASY-BAKE® Oven, Dr. Maya Warren dabbled in food science before she even knew it was a thing. She watched her chocolate cake mixture gradually rise from the heat of the oven light, oblivious to the chemical reactions taking place right before her eyes. As she got older, Maya became increasingly more intrigued by science. A high school chemistry teacher helped guide her passion and made her fall in love with the subject.

After earning her Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry, Maya knew she wanted to do something more with her degree and apply her knowledge in the real world. One day, as she was watching the Food Network™ channel, a show came on called Unwrapped™. Maya watched inquisitively as she got a behind the scenes look at the way foods are made. Light bulb! There was a way to combine her love of science with a field that she could relate to.

That was the turning point that set her on a path of sweet, deliciousness she never could have dreamed of.  Maya went on to earn a PhD in food science, specializing in the microstructure and behavior properties of frozen aerated desserts. Now, that’s a long title! So, to make things easier, we’ll just call her an ice cream scientist or Dr. Ice Cream! And it really is a science. There are air cells, ice crystals, fat globules, and proteins, all of which interact to create creamy scoopable ice cream.

To fully understand this process that most of us take for granted, Maya had to take classes in food chemistry, food engineering, protein chemistry, and of course, dairy chemistry. On top of all that, she did lots and lots of research. Lucky for her, that research included making and eating tons of ice cream.

“For my research, I probably made over 500 gallons of ice cream and I definitely ate my fair share,” said Maya. “Most of it was for research but I would eat a little bit here and there; you kind of have to.”

And the research hasn’t stopped. As the Cold Stone Creamery® Tastemaster™ and Lead Food Scientist, Maya works directly with the Cold Stone Creamery Research and Development team, putting her scientific knowledge to use to create new flavors and innovative new frozen treats.

To find out what’s popular, the R&D team collaborates with the Marketing team to predict the upcoming flavor trends through in depth market research. Once they identify a flavor trend that works well, Maya takes that idea and begins creating the recipes using only quality ingredients.  

“It’s really fun to see the flavors develop and see what the trends are,” said Maya. “But it is a process. It doesn’t happen overnight.”

That was the method behind the development of Cold Stone’s current Batter flavors promotion.

“We know that Cake Batter Ice Cream® is one of our most popular flavors and we know that almost everyone loves licking the bowl after making cake or cookie mix. So we just thought, ‘why not make an entire line of Batter flavors?’ It’s something we knew would work well based on the popularity of our original Cake Batter Ice Cream® flavor.”

While Batter flavored ice cream is definitely a craveable trend, we wanted to know what dream flavor the ice cream scientist herself would love to see on the menu someday.

“I’m really into beets, so I think a beet flavored ice cream would be awesome,” said Maya.

Yes, you read that right…a beet flavored ice cream. Those bright red colored things at the salad bar that your mom always tries to get you to eat. Well, it turns out, beets are actually naturally sweet and high in folic acid. They are even used to extract sugar as an alternative to cane. Maya imagines a deliciously sweet beet ice cream, topped with a little sea salt and a charred honey glazed kale…Wait…Beets and kale?

“I think it would be really good,” said Maya. “One, it’s vegetables and two, it’s kind of funky. I would love to see that. It will definitely get people talking.”

Ok, we’ll give her this one. She is an ice cream scientist after all. But if the beet thing doesn’t work out, we’ll always have Cake Batter Ice Cream™ to enjoy. The good thing is that at Cold Stone®, there are so many flavor combinations and different mix-ins, there’s always something new to discover. No matter what flavor you choose, you can count on it being fresh because all of our ice cream is hand-crafted in small batches – one flavor at a time. We start with the highest quality cream, sugar and flavorings to make our ice cream fresh in the back of each of our stores. This small-batch process ensures our brand’s customers receive the richest, creamiest, most delicious ice cream every time they visit.


That attention to quality is something Maya is proud of because for her, it’s not just a science, it’s a lifestyle. She has found something she is passionate about and something that transcends all walks of life. All of her education has led her to a career that she loves. Best of all, ice cream has provided her with a platform from which to inspire others to go out and find something that they really love and take it by the horns.

“I like to tell young people, just follow your heart, believe in what it is you want to accomplish and let everything else fall into place,” she said. “Don’t forget to work hard, don’t forget to have fun and don’t forget to enjoy the heck out of every moment.”