Cereal Grain Science is the study of the composition, structure, and properties of cereals and the reactions or transformations they undergo. Cereals are plants such as wheat, rice, corn, barley, rye, oats, and millet, which produce grains that are the base of the world's food supply. Because of the importance of cereals as food for humans and animals, the field of cereal chemistry continues to grow as an important scientific career.
Although the field may be considered highly specialized, it is actually quite diversified. This diversity becomes apparent when one reviews the many different areas that employ the skills of cereal chemists.
The cereal chemist may work in basic research, examining the biochemical components of cereals, including their carbohydrates, proteins, lipids, and enzymes. Some of these studies are very technical, employing sophisticated analytical techniques and instrumentation. By contrast, the cereal chemist may be employed by a food company involved in the practical aspects of food production—for example, in flour milling, baking malting, brewing, or pasta manufacturing. In the food company, the cereal chemist or technologist may be involved in product development or quality control, where his or her understanding of the production of food may be used to assess products for consistently high quality.
A few universities offer specialized training in cereal chemistry. However, many individuals engaged in cereal chemistry obtain their training in the fields of food science, foods and nutrition, chemistry (organic or biochemistry), or agriculture.