Forget about the whiz kids on Jeopardy College and the Scripps National Spelling Bee. The smart crew to beat this year was Chapman University’s own Food Science College Bowl Team.

The team of five students won first runner-up at the Institute of Food Technologists’ competition, losing in a final double-elimination round to The Ohio State University. This is the fourth year out of five that Chapman has clinched the regional title and the second time they have been runners-up at the national competition.

The competition tests food science students on a soup-to-nuts body of knowledge that includes everything from food history to toxicology and safety. Chapman was unbeaten going into the final round, where it faced Ohio. Chapman defeated Ohio earlier in the competition, but Ohio survived to the final round. As a double-elimination competition, Chapman had to face Ohio in a second match up.

The team mastered the food science material by meeting for cram sessions every Sunday throughout the semester. But sometimes a winning round at the competition came down to simple speed, said team captain Latha Murugesan M.S. ’11, who works in the industry as a microbiologist at Haliburton International Foods in Ontario. “You have to be very fast. You only have five seconds to hit the buzzer.”

In addition to Murugesan team members included Natasha Fazel ‘11, Megan Fobar, ’12. Daisy Jacinto ’13, and Rachel Xia M.S. ‘12. Team advisor is Lilian Were, Ph.D., associate professor, Schmid College of Science.