IAFP Announces 2019 Student Travel Scholarship Recipients
Tuesday, April 23, 2019
Des Moines, Iowa - The International Association for Food Protection (IAFP) will present Student Travel Scholarships to the following individuals at IAFP 2019, July 21–24, in Louisville, Kentucky. Sponsored by the IAFP Foundation, the Student Travel Scholarships provide travel funds to enable selected students to travel to and participate in IAFP 2019.
Hiroki Abe is a first-year Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Agriculture at Hokkaido University in Sapporo, Japan. Inspired by an early childhood experience of intense food poisoning, Mr. Abe elected to conduct research on predictive microbiology. He is currently working on developing a stochastic approach describing individual cell heterogeneity during thermal inactivation, and recently in the human body. Mr. Abe received both his undergraduate and master’s degrees at Hokkaido University.
Jennifer Acuff is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Food Science & Technology at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, where her current research is focused on low-water activity food (LWAF) safety, specifically regarding nuts and dried fruits, examining the efficacy of low-temperature, vacuum-assisted steam on various LWAF that are contaminated with STEC, L. monocytogenes, and Salmonella spp., while also seeking surrogate organism for this process. Ms. Acuff is also a teaching assistant, helping instruct Food Microbiology and Fermentation Microbiology courses at the university. She received a B.S. in Biology at Abilene Christian University and an M.S. in Food Science at Kansas State University, where her research focused on food microbiology and safety.
Justin Anast is completing his Ph.D. in the Interdepartmental Microbiology program at Iowa State University in Ames. Mr. Anast’s doctoral research focuses on the foodborne pathogen, Listeria monocytogenes, during competition with food bacteria, with the goal of uncovering what genes are utilized by Listeria during co-culture using transcriptomics. His additional research focuses on elucidating the role of a rearrangement hotspot protein (RHS) in competition. He also studies the genomes of Brevibacterium strains from Austrian mountain cheese rinds and their adaptability to the cheese rind environment, leading to a first author publication. Mr. Anast received his B.S. in Microbiology from the University of Idaho, during which he was a research assistant in biology and chemistry labs and a teaching assistant in the chemistry department.
Katrien Begyn is a Ph.D. candidate at the Research Unit of Food Microbiology and Food Preservation (FMFP-UGent) of the Department of Food Technology, Safety and Health located at the Faculty of Bioscience Engineering, Ghent University in Belgium. Her research focuses on the impact of Bacillus cereus endospore evolution on food safety, with an emphasis on UV and wet heat stress, as part of a cooperative research project between three Belgian institutes with extended knowledge of B. cereus. She received both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Biomedical Sciences from Ghent University. Ms. Begyn was the recipient of the IAFP European Student Travel Scholarship in 2018.
Melanie Firestone is completing her Ph.D. in the Division of Environmental Health Sciences at the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health in Minneapolis. Ms. Firestone’s current doctoral work focuses on developing a framework to enhance understanding of the relationship between restaurant inspections, food exposures, and risk of illness to identify opportunities for foodborne illness prevention. She has authored and co-authored articles for food safety publications, including IAFP’s Food Protection Trends. Ms. Firestone received a B.S. in Health and Exercise Science from Wake Forest University and an M.P.H. in Epidemiology from Columbia University, after which she worked as a research scientist at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, developing her interest in foodborne illness epidemiology. After graduation, she will continue her research to help directly inform public policy to reduce the burden of foodborne illness.
Catherine Gensler is completing her M.Sc. in the Department of Animal Science at the University of Connecticut in Storrs. Her research is on evaluating the use of commercially available protective cultures to control Listeriamonocytogenes and Shiga-toxin producing Escherichia coli in soft, surface-mold ripened raw milk cheese. Ms. Gensler received a B.S. in Food Science from the University of Massachusetts – Amherst. After graduation, she looks forward to supporting food safety education work with small producers and entrepreneurs in an extension capacity.
Carly Gomez is working toward her M.Sc. in Biosystems Engineering at Michigan State University in East Lansing, where she also received her B.S. During her studies, Ms. Gomez is continuing the risk modeling project from her undergraduate studies using engineering approaches to develop improved risk models for foodborne illness in cancer patients; modeling bacterial survival during hyper-hygienic preparation processes; and conducting risk analyses of foodborne illness and nutritional impacts in immunocompromised populations following neutropenic diets. She plans to continue this work through her doctoral studies, with the end goal of developing patient-centered educational materials and training for produce preparation in healthcare facilities.
Gayathri Gunathilaka is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at Michigan State University in East Lansing. Her current research focuses on optimizing the conditions for engineered nanoparticles (ENP) removal in an existing fresh-cut pilot-scale processing line. Ms. Gunathilaka earned her M.Sc. in Food Science and Nutrition with a concentration on food microbiology from Wayne State University and her B.S. in Agriculture, Technology and Management from the University of Peradeniya in Sri Lanka.
John (Jack) Hodges is a junior undergraduate at the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management at the University of Houston in Houston, Texas, where he is jointly pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management and an M.Sc. in Hospitality Management. During the past year, Mr. Hodges has studied the effect of foodborne illness on restaurant patrons’ satisfaction through online review channels and the use of big data analytics to monitor foodborne illness outbreaks nationwide. His studies also include food safety in emerging foodservice concepts such as food trucks and mobile app food delivery. He plans to pursue his Ph.D. in Hospitality Administration to enter academia and apply innovative analytics and technology to the foodservice industry.
Rochelle Keet is a current M.Sc. student in the Department of Food Science at Stellenbosch University in South Africa, where she received her undergraduate degree in Food Science. Her graduate studies focus on Listeria monocytogenes and its related virulent strains, which are responsible for listeriosis, with the aim of filling in the gaps between food and clinical strains, as well as investigating potential links between the two areas. Ms. Keet is also investigating the efficacy of a current known listeriaphage to determine if these phages are effective in controlling virulent strains of L. monocytogenes.
Muhammad Nadeem Khan is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Microbiology, Faculty of Biological Sciences at Quaid-I-Axam University in Islamabad, Pakistan, where he also received his master’s in Food and Nutritional Microbiology. During his master’s studies, Mr. Khan evaluated the impact of Intermittent Energy restriction on human physiology and gut microbiome, with the objective of understanding the effect of intermittent fasting on the diversity of microorganisms present in the intestine, helping prevent and manage metabolic diseases. Mr. Khan is currently conducting research on a project aimed at developing economical and effective starter cultures for the dairy industry. He is also researching probiotics and their role in control and management of metabolic diseases.
Sakshi Lamba is pursuing her Ph.D. in Molecular Microbiology at the University College Dublin (UCD) in Dublin, Ireland. Her current research project, “No-Spores-DFI,” integrates fundamental with molecular microbiology to investigate the behavior and interactions of spore-forming bacteria, their resistance profile, and biofilm-forming abilities within the low-moisture food (LMF) manufacturing environment. A native of India, Ms. Lamba received a bachelor’s of Applied Science from the University of Delhi and her M.Sc. in Food Technology from the Haryana Agricultural University, both in India, as well as an M.Sc. in Food Safety and Risk Analysis from UCD.
Ruiling Lv is a Ph.D. student at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China, in the College of Biosystems Engineering and Food Science. Ms. Lv’s doctoral project at Zhejiang University focuses on investigating the effects and mechanisms of ultrasound in combination with other treatments as innovative hurdle technology to inactivate bacterial spores (e.g., Bacillus cereus) in different agri-food products. Ms. Lv was selected for a one-year research internship program at the University of British Columbia (UBC), where she is currently a visiting doctoral student under the supervision of Dr. Xiaonan Lu, researching the determination and characterization of VBNC Campylobacter under stress.
Sarah Murphy is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Food Science at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, working in the Milk Quality Improvement Program/Food Safety Lab. Ms. Murphy’s research is focused on expanding knowledge of microbial dynamics in food systems to develop evidence-based practices that promote lasting impacts to food quality and safety throughout the supply chain. She has also worked with colleagues in Cornell Dairy Foods Extension over the past three years to design and implement trainings for plant employees and management, promoting practices leading towards safe, high-quality dairy products. Ms. Murphy received her B.S. in Biological Chemistry from Bates College. Her career goals include establishing her own research program focused on food quality systems.
Oladipupo Odunayo Olatunde is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Food Technology at Prince of Songkla University in Songkhla, Thailand. Mr. Olatunde’s current research is focused on the application of non-thermal processing technologies, particularly dielectric barrier discharge high voltage cold atmospheric plasma (DBD-HVCAP) for inactivation of both pathogenic and spoilage microorganisms in fish. A native of Nigeria, he received his B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Food Science and Technology, both from the Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta in Nigeria. After graduation, he plans to return to Nigeria to apply his knowledge to academia, with a goal of joining a dedicated research team directed toward meeting the imminent needs of society, particularly in food safety and quality.
Nurudeen Olalekan Oloso graduated in April 2019 after conducting full-time postdoctoral work in the Department of Production Animal Studies (Epidemiology) at the University of Pretoria in South Africa. Dr. Oloso is also part of the Faculty of Veterinary Science at the university. His eight-chapter doctoral thesis is on “Prevalence and characterization of Salmonella isolates originating from the broiler production value chain in Nigeria.” From this research and other projects related to food safety in Nigeria, Dr. Oloso has published six manuscripts, which are under review or in the course of submission to the university’s peer-reviewed journals. He holds a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) from the University of Ibadan in Nigeria, where he also earned his master’s in Preventive Veterinary Medicine.
Ruth Oni is a Ph.D. student in the Nutrition and Food Science Department at the University of Maryland – College Park, studying Food Science and Technology, where she also received her undergraduate and master’s degrees in Food Science. Ms. Oni’s current research is evaluating certain in-process steps and their potential impact on the assessment of Salmonella risk during chocolate production, as well as the development of targeting thermal resistance data as critical components for a quantitative microbial risk assessment. She recently completed work on a multi-university project designed to facilitate integration of computer simulation into traditional Food Science lectures and laboratory activities to help students better understand quantitative food safety concepts. Her career aspirations include working as a food microbiologist/safety specialist utilizing scientific knowledge and tools to help establish innovative policies to enhance microbial food safety.
Elvina Parlindungan is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Food Science and Technology at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia. Her current research in food microbiology involves studying the effect of stress on a bacteriocin-producing strain of Lactobacillus plantarum to enhance its survival and stability for improved safety and protection in food application, utilizing several techniques. Ms. Parlindungan received her bachelor’s in Biomedicine with the university, where she worked on projects with several high-profile labs in Australia.
Surabhi Rani is pursuing her Ph.D. in the Department of Nutrition and Food Science at the University of Maryland – College Park. Ms. Rani’s research is focused on evaluating food safety risk factors associated with Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii) infection in the farm-to-fork framework. She is currently working on estimating the prevalence of T. gondii in naturally infected food animals in the Animal Parasitic Disease Laboratory at the Agricultural Research Services (ARS), part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. She is a published author and co-author. A native of India, Ms. Rani holds a Bachelors of Technology degree from the Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati in India.
Lester Schonberger is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Food Science and Technology at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. Mr. Schonberger served as the graduate assistant for the university’s Campus Kitchen, which inspired his research to identify opportunities for increased food safety education and support for food recovery organizations through cooperative extensions. Some of his research was published in an issue of Food Protection Trends, and he has presented his research and co-organized symposia for past IAFP Annual Meetings. He achieved his B.S. in Food Science and Technology from Virginia Tech.
Mary Kathrynn Yavelak will graduate in May 2019 with an M.S. in Food Science from North Carolina State University in Raleigh, where she also received her B.S. Throughout her university studies, Ms. Yavelak’s research focused on food safety education at temporary events, with an emphasis on the risk of Shiga-toxin producing Escherichia coli (STEC) foodborne illness from beef. She also developed a youth food safety program to educate young consumers on managing the risk of STEC in beef from farm to fork. Other research interests include modernizing current approaches to risk communications using various social media platforms and helping develop consumer and retail food safety programs through North Carolina’s Cooperative Extension Program. Ms. Yavelak plans to use her research experience to impact consumer food safety educational efforts, both nationally and worldwide.
About International Association for Food Protection
The International Association for Food Protection (IAFP) represents more than 4,500 food safety professionals committed to Advancing Food Safety Worldwide®. The association includes educators, government officials, microbiologists, food industry executives and quality control professionals who are involved in all aspects of growing, storing, transporting, processing and preparing all types of foods. Working together, IAFP members, representing more than 70 countries, help the association achieve its mission through networking, educational programs, journals, career opportunities and numerous other resources.