IAFP Announces 2018 Student Travel Scholarship Recipients
Wednesday, April 25, 2018
Des Moines, Iowa - The International Association for Food Protection (IAFP) will present Student Travel Scholarships to the following individuals at IAFP 2018, July 8–11, in Salt Lake City, Utah. Sponsored by the IAFP Foundation, the Student Travel Scholarships provide travel funds to enable selected students to travel to and participate in IAFP 2018.
Abimbola Allison is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Public Health, Microbiology and Food Safety at Tennessee State University in Nashville. Her research focus is on conducting challenge testing experiments for the control of pathogens with public health relevance. Her dissertation is on the inactivation of wild-type, rifampicin-resistant, and pressure-adopted foodborne bacteria of public health concern and microbial spores, as affected by various times, controlled temperatures, elevated hydrostatic pressure, antimicrobials, and their synergism. A native of Nigeria, Ms. Allison received both her B.Sc. in Microbiology and her M.Sc. in Agricultural Science from the University of Benin in Nigeria. Her long-term plans include working as a consultant in her home country, setting up microbiology laboratories in rural communities, and developing comprehensive food safety educational programs for transition economies.
Xiaoqiong Cao is a Ph.D. candidate in the Food Science Department at the University of Massachusetts – Amherst in Amherst. Ms. Cao is currently conducting highly innovative and important research on the risk assessment of foodborne titanium dioxide nanoparticles. She has also completed extensive investigations on the mechanism of the nanoparticles’ toxicity by a microbiota transplant study in mice to show how gut microbiota plays an important role in the adverse effects induced by nanoparticles. Her work had led to three research articles in peer-reviewed journals and recognition with numerous awards. Ms. Cao plans to pursue a postdoctoral position in the area of nano-safety.
Vijay Chhetri is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, where his research has been on “Microbial biofilm formation and its control strategies on leafy greens.” Mr. Chhetri has investigated the effect of residual chlorine on the survival and attachment of bacterial pathogens on spinach surface, obtaining valuable data with the results to be included in two manuscripts. A native of Nepal,
Mr. Chhetri’s career aspirations are to develop the technologies/methods that can effectively eliminate pathogens from fresh produce and work as a food safety consultant and educator.
Anna Colavecchio is a Ph.D. candidate in the Food Science and Agricultural Chemistry Department at McGill University in Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue in Quebec, Canada. Ms. Colavecchio’s dissertation research focuses on studying the dissemination of antimicrobial and heavy metal resistance to foodborne bacteria via a novel class of temperate bacteriophages, called phage-like plasmids. Her research has led to eight journal articles (four as first author) and one book chapter. She plans to pursue a career in the food industry to contribute directly to the prevention of foodborne illness by ensuring the safety and quality of food products.
Angela Ferelli is a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate studying microbial safety of produce in the Plant Sciences and Landscape Architecture Department at the University of Maryland in College Park. Her research involves investigating Salmonella enterica and its interactions in the agricultural environment, particularly in tomatoes and irrigation water. Ms. Ferelli will be presenting new research at IAFP 2018 on Salmonella serovar specific persistence dynamics in Maryland’s surface water and the transfer potential of these strains onto tomatoes. She envisions a career developing holistic approaches to food safety research, providing guidance based on policy and research to empower growers.
Mohammad Ruzlan Habib is completing his M.Sc. in the Food Engineering and Tea Technology Department at Shahjalal University of Science and Technology in Sylhet, Bangladesh. Mr. Habib has conducted research on heavy metal contamination in prawns, which was published in a peer-reviewed journal. His current research focuses on determining heavy metals in captured and cultured fish in Bangladesh and assessing probable health risks, allowing consumers to compare fish safety and health risks. Mr. Habib aspires to work with food through research and developing standard quality measures to ensure food safety and public health.
Anna Sophia Harrand is a Ph.D. candidate in the Food Science Department at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Her current research is on the relative impact of strain diversity versus growth conditions on pathogen survival during challenge and validation studies, providing valuable information due to the increased emphasis on science-based approaches created by the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). Ms. Harrand received her M.Sc. in Molecular Life Science at Humboldt University in Berlin, Germany, and her undergraduate degree at Free University Berlin.
Shoukui He is a visiting Ph.D. student in The Wang Lab of Molecular Food Safety at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. Mr. He’s current research is focused on the ethanol stress response mechanism of Salmonellaenterica serovar Enteritidis. Some of his research results have been published in several scientific publications, and he serves as an ad-hoc peer reviewer for international journals. He also holds an interest in developing stress response networks and resistome/tolerome database for foodborne pathogens. After graduation, Mr. He aspires to work at a university and be continuously involved in food safety research through a big data-driven approach.
Kento Koyama is a third-year Ph.D. candidate in the Agriculture Department of Hokkaido University in Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan. Mr. Koyama’s studies include a focus on predictive microbiology. Part of his Ph.D. project is as a visiting student at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece, where he is researching individual cell heterogeneity via microscopy. He obtained both his undergraduate and master’s degrees at Hokkaido University, taking part in an exchange program at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich in Germany during his undergraduate studies.
Luyao Ma is completing her Ph.D. at the University of British Columbia in the Department of Food, Nutrition and Health. Ms. Ma’s research is on the investigation of antimicrobial resistance evolution and transmission in Campylobacter from the food processing environment to the human gut. She has been part of other research projects funded by industry and has two publications as first author and seven publications as co-author. She has received numerous awards and honors throughout her academic studies. Ms. Ma plans to devote her future career to educating the public and younger generations on the importance of food safety.
Robyn Miranda is a Ph.D. student in the Food Science program at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey in New Brunswick. Her research is on the development of a quantitative microbial risk assessment to predict the transmission of Norovirus in frozen berries. In addition, she is conducting research on developing an agent-based model to simulate ill food workers in the field during harvesting and how on-farm contamination can result in an outbreak, considering various scenarios. Outside of her Ph.D. work, Ms. Miranda is conducting a risk assessment of V. parahaemolyticus in shellfish from New Jersey waters. After graduation, she plans to be a risk modeler or biostatistician for a government agency (e.g., FDA) or for a non-profit organization.
Zahra Mohammad is completing her Ph.D. in the Department of Nutrition and Food Science at Texas A&M University in College Station. Ms. Mohammad is currently conducting research on relevant topics such as exploring the safety of microgreens and studying the potential use of ozone home appliances to disinfect fruits, vegetables, and sprouts. Her dissertation focuses on the safety of meat products by examining the presence of pathogenic Salmonella and STEC in the air of beef slaughter establishments. Her career aspirations include working as a food scientist in food safety and quality for a food-related industry.
Daniel Monte is a visiting scholar at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, as part of his Ph.D. in Food Science at the University of São Paulo in Brazil. Mr. Monte is currently developing research with Salmonella and E. coli, applying molecular biology techniques and whole genome sequencing to characterize resistance attributes. His current project focuses on genetic diversity, virulence genes and antimicrobial resistance of Salmonella enterica isolated from poultry slaughterhouses and investigation/characterization of E. coli resistant to beta-lactamics and colistin. Mr. Monte has five first-authored publications in journals and is co-author of four additional articles.
Thabang Msimango is an M.Sc. candidate in Biotechnology in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences at the University of Pretoria in Gauteng, South Africa. Ms. Msimango’s research project focuses on food safety in school feeding schemes, determining the level of safety of fresh produce grown in school gardens, as well as fresh produce supplied to the schools by the government. After completion of her master’s degree, she plans to pursue her Ph.D., aspiring to become a food safety expert and providing guidance to the Department of Basic Education in South Africa, her native country.
Flavia Negrete is an undergraduate student in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Maryland in College Park. Ms. Negrete is in a dual B.Sc. program in Biochemistry and Neurophysiology as part of the Joint Institute for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (JIFSAN) Student Internship. Her current project involves performing genomic analysis of hibernators-persistors of Cronobacter strains which contaminate low water activity foods and dietary supplements so that strategies can be developed to minimize their viability and persistence.
Loandi Richter is an M.Sc. student of Plant Pathology in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences at the University of Pretoria in Gauteng, South Africa. Her research project is on the prevalence and characterization of antimicrobial resistance in Enterobacteriaceae in fresh (including fresh-cut, RTE, and bagged) vegetables, from production on the farm to the retail level. Ms. Richter is working on a U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded grant entitled, “Characterizing and tracking of antimicrobial resistance in the water-plant-food public health interface: An emerging water, sanitation and hygiene issue.” This project has contributed directly to improving produce safety in South Africa.
Joyjit Saha is completing his Ph.D. in Food Microbiology in the Department of Animal Science at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater. A native of India, Mr. Saha’s research focuses on developing predictive models, specifically in food microbiology, to help reduce costly experimentation in the food industry. His main focus is risk-mitigation of biofilm-forming foodborne pathogens in the food production and processing industry, using various intervention strategies. To date, Mr. Saha has published eight refereed journal manuscripts, 20 abstracts, and two research articles.
Carla Schwan is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Animal Science and Industry at Kansas State University in Manhattan. A native of Brazil, Ms. Schwan’s focus is on food safety, quality and security, applying her knowledge and technical skills in countries with limited resources, such as Ethiopia. Her doctoral project is part of a grant from Kansas State University through the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Feed the Future Innovation Lab – Collaborative Research on Sustainable Intensification, with a focus on developing microbial baselines for E. coli O157 and non-O157, and Salmonellaenterica in municipal and export abattoirs in Ethiopia. Ms. Schwan’s research has the potential of impacting food safety in small Ethiopian households by promoting healthy hygiene practices that will ultimately decrease the incidence of foodborne illnesses.
Katarina Simunovic is completing her Ph.D. in the Department of Food Safety and Technology at the University of Ljubljana in Solvenia. Her doctoral project is focused on C. jejuni intra- and inter-species interactions and their manipulation for C. jejuni control. She is also involved in two other food safety-related projects, one involving the control of C. jejuni in the slaughter environment and chicken carcass and one involving the microbiological safety and stability of bee pollen. Ms. Simunovic received her undergraduate and master’s degrees in Microbiology from the University of Ljubljana.
Varalakshmi Sudagar (Varalakshmi S) is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Veterinary Public Health and Food Safety at Ghent University in Ghent, Belgium. A native of India, she is a Scientist on the Indian Council of Agricultural Research – National Dairy Research Institute (ICAR – NDRI), India and teaches a food safety and quality assurance course to master’s students. Her current research is on the challenge testing and predictive modeling of the food safety of traditional products that involves the studies of the behavior of the pathogenic organisms (E. coli, Salmonella and Listeria) in the Indian cheese product, Paneer, and in the dry aged meat (Belgian traditional product) during its shelf life.
About International Association for Food Protection
The International Association for Food Protection (IAFP) represents more than 4,300 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.