Q: Why did you choose Food Science?
A: I was finishing up a B.S. in Animal Science at the University of Tennessee when I took an elective that was an Introduction to Food Science. Up until that time, I had never fathomed that food science was a career option. I find that food science is one of the best hidden secrets in most universities. Given that this field is multidisciplinary by nature, there really is something for everyone. I was instantly drawn to food safety and haven’t looked back since.
Q: What is your previous work experience?
A: I’ve worked as a food safety extension specialist at the University of Tennessee since fall of 2011. In that time, I was able to build a strong extension and research program that was geared towards providing science-based recommendations for individuals involved in food production across the continuum from growers to food manufacturers. This experience allowed me to build strong networks of collaborators necessary for multidisciplinary outreach and research questions. While my focus was rather broad in my appointment at Tennessee, I really loved working with produce growers. With increasing regulatory and buyer demands, there is a lot of work to be done with respect to extension and research. That is why I was interested in my current position as the produce safety extension specialist at WSU. To be able to focus on an area that I’m so passionate about is wonderful.
Q: What are your current hobbies?
A: I enjoy spending time with my husband, Rob, and seven year old son, Owen. We enjoy traveling to see new places and checking out the latest movies. I also like small craft projects like creating stained glass pieces, monograming/embroidery and simple woodworking projects.
Q: What are your future career/research goals for SFS?
A: I am joining a great food safety extension team! I look forward to building a strong produce safety outreach and research program here at the Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center in Prosser. There are so many gaps in knowledge with respect to bacterial foodborne pathogens and fresh produce. For these reasons, it is extremely difficult to provide evidence based best practices to growers. The goal of my research program will be to better understand the ecology of foodborne pathogens in the growing and harvesting environment; determine where risks are likely to occur during production, harvest and storage; and lastly, determine practical solutions that can be applied to mitigate these risks. I have found that strong collaborative ties with fellow food microbiologists, food chemists, fruit and vegetable horticulture specialists, agricultural engineers, and industry organizations and collaborators are key to successful outcomes. I’m really looking forward to making these connections in the coming years and getting to know everyone.
Q: Why would you recommend Food Science to future students?
A: There really is something for everyone in food science. From careers like engineering, sensory science, quality assurance and product development, there is a strong likelihood that you will be able to find a good fit for your personality and strengths. There’s also a great job market with the average salary for this region at $81,600 based upon the latest IFT salary survey. Students find that they have a lot of options when they graduate and can really pick a job that they’re interested as a starting point for their career.