IAFP Announces 2017 Student Travel Scholarship Recipients

IAFP Announces 2017 Student Travel Scholarship Recipients

The scholarships provide travel funds to enable selected students to travel to and participate in IAFP 2017.

May 4, 2017

The International Association for Food Protection (IAFP) will present Student Travel Scholarships to the following individuals at IAFP 2017, July 9–12, in Tampa, Florida. Sponsored by the IAFP Foundation, the Student Travel Scholarships provide travel funds to enable selected students to travel to and participate in IAFP 2017.

Mikala Bach is pursuing her bachelor’s degree in Food Science at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Her interest in food safety began as a student in the Summer Scholar Program at the University’s Food Research Institute, where her research project included the study of growth of Staphylococcus aureus on the surface of bone-in ham and its potential to produce toxin. Shortly after, she spent time in Ecuador, helping set up and establish food safety protocols in areas of the country that are often overlooked. After graduation, Bach plans to pursue a master’s degree in Microbiology.

Stephanie Barnes is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Animal Science at the University of Connecticut in Storrs. Her current research is focused on identifying and developing antimicrobial strategies, including clean label approaches, to control pathogens and spoilage microorganisms in milk and fresh cheese. She received both her B.S. in Agriculture and her M.S. in Food Science from the University of Georgia in Athens. Barnes plans to continue pursuing her passion for food microbiology and fermentation through research, teaching, and public engagement, while working closely with community members and producers in geographically restricted areas to develop effective strategies and educational programs to improve food safety.

Sarah Beno is a Ph.D. candidate at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, studying Gram-positive bacteria that impacts the dairy industry, and partners with Cornell Dairy Extension to provide workshops to industry members. In addition to presentations, Beno has developed and validated environmental pathogen monitoring programs for nine small cheese-processing facilities. Her other research includes the analysis of spoilage organisms’ abilities to survive and grow at refrigeration temperatures in fluid milk, using skim milk broth as a model. She holds a B.S. in Biology and a B.A. in Chemistry from Meredith College in Raleigh, North Carolina, and has completed international food safety work in East Africa, including Kenya and Rwanda.

Sarah Cope is a recent graduate of East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina, receiving her B.S. in Family and Consumer Sciences Secondary Education. Cope currently works as an undergraduate researcher in the Department of Agriculture and Human Sciences at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. Her current research interests are in food safety and human behavior, and their ties to Cooperative Extension education and outreach. Her most recent research project consisted of a review of mug cake recipes on social media and research objectives on the safety of various recipes related to recent bacterial outbreaks from ingredients and the variable associated with preparation and cooking. She plans to pursue her master’s degree at North Carolina State University in Agriculture and Extension Education, focusing on food safety and human behavior, with the goal to obtain a position as an Extension Agent.

Dorothy Dupree is obtaining her M.S. in the Department of Foods and Nutrition at the University of Georgia in Athens. Her research includes assessing survival of E. coli O157:H7 and Lactobacillus species in cucumber juice with varied salt treatments. In addition to her research, Dupree is completing supervised practice as part of the University’s dietetic internship program where, upon completion, she will be eligible to sit for the registration exam for dietitians. Her plans include a career in the foodservice industry.

Hillary Kelbick is a Ph.D. candidate in Toxicology and Environmental Health Science at the University of Maryland in College Park. She completed her B.S. in Biology at Pennsylvania State University in State College, and her M.P.H. in Epidemiology at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Her research includes investigating the microbial quality of non-traditional irrigation of water sources, specifically surface water and treated wastewater, and the persistence of antibiotics in small-scale wastewater treatment setups. Kelbick’s work will take place in the U.S. and Israel and is relevant to water-stressed or isolated communities around the world. In addition, she engages in food safety work through her capacity as a graduate mentor for an undergraduate public health outreach team in Ethiopia that includes Ethiopian and American colleagues, collaborating to help reduce diarrhea and malnutrition.

Giannis Koukkidis is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Infection Immunity and Inflammation at the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom. Koukkidis holds an undergraduate degree in Biological Sciences and a master’s degree in Infection and Immunity, during which he began examining the interactions of salad leaf tissues with enteropathogens, which is the topic of his Ph.D. After completion of his doctorate, Koukkidis’ plans include expanding his portfolio with a post-doctoral placement in his current area of research, examining foodborne pathogens’ link to fresh produce, with a goal of working directly with agricultural industries involved in salad growth, packaging, and novel treatments capable of preventing pathogen attachment to fresh produce.

Shuxiang Liu is pursuing her doctorate degree in the Department of Biological Systems Engineering at Washington State University in Pullman. She received her B.Eng. in Food Quality and Safety and M.Eng. in Food Science and Engineering from Sichuan Agricultural University in Ya’an, China, where she researched a non-destructive method to quantify edible oil quality in the deep frying process using dielectric properties. Liu holds a four-year doctoral fellowship from China Scholarship Council. Her current research is part of a five-year USDA-NIFA CAP project in collaboration with universities/institutes and the FDA to provide scientific data for enhancing low-moisture food safety. Her thesis involves evaluating Salmonella surrogate microorganisms in various food matrices for thermal pasteurization. She is also studying how water activity at treatment temperature influences thermal resistance of microorganisms in various low-moisture foods. Liu’s goal is to improve understanding of Salmonella in low-moisture foods and better benefit the industry through developing and validating efficient thermal pasteurization technologies for low-moisture foods.

Itumeleng Matle is a Ph.D. candidate in the Food Safety Program at the University of South Africa in Pretoria, Gauteng, South Africa. Matle received his bachelor’s of technology in Veterinary Technology from Tshwane University of Technology in South Africa and his master’s of technology in Environmental Health from Central University of Technology in South Africa. His current research is based on molecular characterization and antimicrobial resistance profiles of Listeria monocytogenes isolated from meat and meat products in South Africa, a novel project in the area that will help determine national prevalence of L. monocytogenes in meat and meat products from abattoirs, processing plants, and retail outlets using whole genome sequencing. The aspect of the study will contribute to additional skills for young researchers and create a database of whole genome sequences of L. monocytogenes from food products in South Africa.

Rianna Murray is a Ph.D. candidate in the Environmental Health and Toxicology Program at the Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health, located in the School of Public Health at the University of Maryland in College Park. Murray holds a B.Sc. with a double major in Biochemistry and Chemistry from the University of the West Indies, and a M.P.H. from the University of Maryland. Her current research combines her interests in both food and water safety through investigating potential associations between private wells as a drinking water source and the incidence of foodborne illness. Murray is also part of a multi-state collaborative effort, Project CONSERVE, which seeks to determine the sustainable on-farm solutions needed to enable agricultural producers to conserve groundwater through the safe use of emerging nontraditional water sources.

Eugène Niyonzima is a Ph.D. candidate in the laboratory of Agro-Food Quality and Safety at the University of Liège – Gembloux Agro Bio-Tech in Belgium. Niyonzima holds his M.Sc. in Food Quality and Safety from Cheick Anta Diop University of Daka, Senegal, and a bachelor’s degree in Veterinary Medicine from the International School of Sciences and Veterinary Medicine of Dakar. His current research is aimed at assessing the risk of human salmonellosis associated with the consumption of meat-based meals in his native country of Rwanda and the determination of the efficacy of different mitigation scenarios along the meat chain through a quantitative microbiological risk assessment model. Niyonzima has taught introductory food science and advanced microbiology courses at the undergraduate level.

Rodney Owusu-Darko is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Food Science at the University of Pretoria in South Africa. Owusu-Darko received his B.Sc. in Nutrition and Food Science for the University of Ghana, Legon, and his M.Sc. in Food Biotechnology from the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, United Kingdom. His current research focuses on using Next-Generation Sequencing to identify and characterize spore-forming Bacillus species, especially the importance to the dairy industry. He is also interested in heat resistance and of the various mobile genetic elements that confer heat resistance to spore formers. In addition, Owusu-Darko’s research includes the thermal inactivation of these spore formers and in the use of interdisciplinary approaches in solving the emerging issue of heat and antimicrobial resistance in the food industry. His academic career includes teaching introductory food science and advanced microbiology courses at the undergraduate level.

Hao Pang is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Nutrition and Food Science at the University of Maryland in College Park. Pang holds a B.S. in Food Science and Engineering from Nanjing Agricultural University in China and an M.S. in Food Science from the University of Maryland. Research for his master’s degree focused on the development of quantitative microbial risk assessment for E. coli O157:H7 in fresh-cut lettuce. His current research focuses on the development of predictive models to identify risk factors and predict the presence and population dynamics of pathogens in produce during pre-harvest production under different weather conditions, geographic regions, and farming systeResults from this study will provide information and data to growers to make informed food safety decisions in reducing the risk of produce pre-harvest contamination.

Laura Patterson is a Ph.D. Epidemiology student at the University of California – Davis. Patterson received her undergraduate degree from Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa. Her former career positions range from small-scale farmer to nonprofit database administrator, with her interest in zoonotic diseases coalescing while managing a goat dairy during a Q fever outbreak. Patterson’s current research focuses on evaluating risk factors, farm management practices, and surveillance methods to detect and prevent the transmission of foodborne pathogens and zoonotic diseases on small-scale diversified farHer thesis involves assessing the prevalence of foodborne pathogens, risk factors, and contamination indicators on diversified farms that integrate livestock and crop production, with a second thesis focusing on the wildlife-livestock interface and its impacts on small-scale farms in California.
Patterson aspires to work as a cooperative extension specialist.

Kristen Saniga is seeking her master’s in Food Science degree at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. Saniga’s research includes improving food safety education and behavior within the food industry. She received her undergraduate degree in Food Science with a minor in Microbiology from North Carolina State University, where she served as an undergraduate research assistant for three years, studying food safety education and recruitment. Her thesis involves assessing food safety training interventions within the food industry and the relationship between food safety culture and training. Saniga’s goal is to develop a tool that can be used by industry to assess their food safety culture and training programs.

Nicholas Sevart is a Ph.D. candidate in Food Safety at Kansas State University in Manhattan, where he also received his undergraduate degree in Food Science and Industry. Sevart was awarded an assistantship under a U.S. Department of Agriculture – National Institute of Food And Agriculture (USDA-NIFA) Coordinated Agricultural Project (CAP) grant focused on Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) in the beef system. His research involves evaluating the efficacy of antimicrobials applied electrostatically to control STEC in beef, possibly to provide the beef industry with several impactful advantages compared to commonly used intervention strategies. In addition, Sevart has undertaken leadership roles investigating pathogen control strategies in produce, bakery products, seeds and grains, and pet foods, with opportunities to teach, develop and implement HACCP programs for large and small food processors.

Aswathi Soni is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Food Science at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand. Soni’s research interests are in food safety and use of pulse electric field processing (PEF) for the inactivation of foodborne spore-forming pathogenic bacteria. A native of India, she holds both a bachelor’s and master’s – both in Technology – from Annamalai University in India and was a lecturer for three years at Barkatullah University in India. Her current research involves understanding the use of different hurdles for reducing the resistance of Bacillus spores to inactivation by PEF. Through research and teaching food safety, Soni’s goal is to use new insights toward developing regimes for longer shelf stability in food products.

Constanza Vergara is a Ph.D. candidate in the Veterinary and Agricultural Science Program at the University of Chile in Santiago. A native of Chile, Vergara also works part-time as a veterinary advisor and in the Technical International Cooperation area at the Chilean Food Safety and Quality Agency (ACHIPIA), an agency dedicated to the coordination of the National Food Safety and Quality System. She received her undergraduate degree in Veterinary Medicine with honors from the University of Chile and served as a research assistant in the Bromatology Department on the Veterinary Faculty of Complutense University in Spain, working with biofilms formation related to the food industry process. Vergara’s current research focuses on foodborne disease and antimicrobial resistance and the weight on public health using quantitative risk assessment as an approach to the development of better public policies in Chile.

Sophie Tongyu Wu is a Ph.D. candidate in Food Science at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. Wu is working on facility designs, management practices, and cleaning and sanitizing frequency in retail produce environments affecting Listeria monocytogenes prevalence. She also developed and implemented a comprehensive 111-question survey in 30 retail produce departments across seven U.S. states that participated in concurrent monthly environmental sampling. Results from this study will help devise and implement intervention strategies to improve food safety practices in this area. Wu received her B.S. in Biology from the University of Wisconsin–Madison and her master’s in Food Science from Purdue University.

Xingning Xioa is a Ph.D. candidate in Biosystems Engineering and Food Science at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China. Her research focuses on microbial cross-contamination and quantitative microbial risk assessment for food safety. Xiao has been involved in several research projects, including modeling the cross-contamination of Vibrio parahaemolyticus in the shrimp peeling process; investigating the growth/survival of Salmonella on waxberry under different storage temperatures and package materials; and conducting a quantitative microbial risk assessment of Salmonella throughout the poultry supply chain. Xioa received her B.S. degree in Agricultural Engineering from Sichuan Agricultural University in China.