IAFP Announces 2023 Student Travel Scholarship Recipients
Tuesday, April 25, 2023
Des Moines, Iowa - The International Association for Food Protection (IAFP) will present Student Travel Scholarships to the following individuals at IAFP 2023, July 16–19, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Sponsored by the IAFP Foundation, the Student Travel Scholarships provide travel funds to enable selected students to travel to and participate in IAFP 2023.
Marianna Arvaniti is a Ph.D. candidate in the Laboratory of Food Quality Control and Hygiene at the Agricultural University of Athens, in Athens, Greece. Ms. Arvaniti’s current research is focused on the molecular characterization of the physiological mechanism that controls the status ‘Viable but non Culturable’ (VBNC) to individual cells of Listeria monocytogenes. She holds an M.Sc. in Food Science and Technology from the Agricultural University of Athens and a B.Sc. in Biology from the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens.
Cyril Nsom Ayuk Etaka is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Food Science and Technology at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, Virginia. Mr. Etaka’s research focuses on fresh produce safety, specifically investigating the survival of foodborne pathogens (Escherichia coli, Listeria monocytogenes, and Salmonella) on different harvest bag material types, i.e., canvas, nylon, and cordura). In addition, he is quantifying the transfer of these pathogens from the previously mentioned harvest bag material types, including leather, to fresh unwaxed apples under different transfer scenarios. A native of Cameroon, Mr. Etaka obtained his undergraduate degree in Agriculture from the University of Buea, and a master’s in Standards and Quality Control of Agricultural Products from the University of Dschang – Cameroon, as well as a master’s in Food Science from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln.
Akshaya Balaji is an undergraduate student pursuing dual degrees in Biology and Environmental Science and Technology with a minor in Sustainability, at the University of Maryland, College Park. Ms. Balaji is currently working on an Environmental Science and Technology capstone project focused on urban soils. She has worked as a research assistant, developing her own project regarding E. coli O157:H7, the strain which produces Shiga toxin. Her research focuses on comparing extraction results from manual methods with the Maxwell preparation method on a variety of environmental samples from ongoing outbreaks.
Megan Dixon is a Ph.D. candidate in the Microbiology Doctoral Training Program at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Ms. Dixon’s current role involves understanding how plant health affects food safety by studying how Salmonella enterica manages to thrive on plants afflicted by bacterial phytopathogens. Her project addresses how plant diseases facilitate S. enterica’s ingression into the apoplast of tomato and lettuce leaves. She holds a B.S. in Biology with Highest Distinction from Indiana University in Bloomington.
Aaron Dudley is a Ph.D. student in the Food and Animal Sciences Department at Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University (AAMU) in Normal. Mr. Dudley currently leads a project on developing active packaging by electrospinning hemp nanofiber to be used as an active antimicrobial film to reduce foodborne pathogens (Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella enterica) in packaged chicken breast meat. He is a certified Produce Safety Alliance trainer and, most recently, an ORISE USDA FSIS Fellow. He obtained his B.S. in Biology from Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan, and his M.S. in Food Science and Technology from AAMU.
Gurwinder Kaur is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Food Science and Technology at I.K. Gujral Punjab Technical University in Kapurthala, Punjab, India, where she also holds a master’s in Food Technology. Ms. Kaur’s research focuses on the development of an automated food safety early warning system in the dairy supply chain using machine learning. Her research goal is to increase traceability, boost predictive analytics, respond more quickly to outbreaks, address new business models, decrease food contamination, and promote the growth of better food safety cultures using artificial intelligence and machine learning. She has earned an Indian design patent on IOT-based milk vending machines. Ms. Kaur has a B.Sc. in Medical (Chemistry, Botany, and Zoology) from Guru Nanak Dev University in Amritsar, Punjab, India.
Clara M.G. Lima is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Food Science and Nutrition at the State University of Campinas (UNICAMP) in São Paulo, Brazil. Ms. Lima’s research project is focused on the safety and microbiological quality of new sources of ingredients from Cerrado and Amazon, as well as plant-based products marketed in Brazil. Her research will benefit not only the Brazilian society, but also other global communities interested in reducing both the environmental impact generated by greenhouse gases and the use of water resources producing vegetal protein as an alternative to the animal protein. She received her bachelor’s in Food Engineering from the Federal Institute of Northern Minas Gerais (IFNMG) in Montes Claros, Brazil, and a master’s in Food Science from the Federal University of Lavras (UFLA) in Lavras, Minas Gerais, Brazil.
Abdullahi Idris Muhammad is a final year undergraduate student in the Department of Food Science and Technology at Kano University of Science and Technology in Wudil, Kano State, Nigeria. Mr. Muhammad’s undergraduate project is titled “Evaluating the Effect of Different Thickening Agents on the Viscosity, Shelf-Life Stability, and Consumer Acceptability of the Baobab Pulp Drink.” His research aims to increase the drink’s viscosity by 20% and provide a shelf-life of at least seven days. His goal is to help provide scientifically-reasoned solutions to policymakers and educate consumers on the challenges of food and lifestyle-related diseases, food insecurity, and the increasing costs of medical care, especially in Nigeria and other low- and middle-income countries.
Alexis N. Omar is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences at the University of Delaware in Newark. Ms. Omar’s current research focuses on mycoremediation techniques, utilizing white-rot fungi’s ligninolytic activity to prey on and inhibit a variety of foodborne pathogens in biological soil amendments of animal origins. She is also an integral coordinator of other ongoing projects including research assessing SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater with the university’s Center for Environmental and Wastewater Epidemiological Research (CEWER). She holds a B.S. in Pre-Veterinary Medicine and Animal Biosciences from the University of Delaware.
Keorimy Ouk is a master’s student in the Department of Food Science and Technology at the Royal University of Agriculture in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Ms. Ouk currently works as a Project Officer under supervision to carry out the USAID-funded research project on the Feed the Future Labor for the university’s food safety program, by understanding the producer’s perspective of food safety and investigating the contamination of specific pathogens within vegetable value chains. This includes identifying likely points of contamination, transmission pathways, and persistence with the aim of establishing the adopt intervention for Cambodia in collaboration with Kansas State University and Purdue University. Ms. Ouk has a bachelor’s in Agro-Industry from the university.
Chenhao “Luke” Qian is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Food Science at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Mr. Qian’s current research involves developing a random forest model that can predict different spore levels in organic raw milk using data from farm management surveys and weather stations; an exposure assessment of cytotoxic B. cereus in milk consumption; and an agent-based model (ABM) to simulate the Listeria transmission within a retail store and assess the control strategies. He has also been developing modules to teach undergraduate and graduate students about using and developing food safety models. Mr. Qian earned his B.S. in Food Science from the University of California – Davis, and his M.S. in Food Science from Kansas State University in Manhattan.
Aishwarya Rao is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Nutrition and Food Science at the University of Maryland, College Park. Ms. Rao’s current research focuses on the risk assessment of using alternative water sources as irrigation water for use in the field and in controlled agriculture conditions. The goal of the research is to develop predictive models that can establish the risk of infection in each of the growth conditions. She has a B.S. in Chemistry, Botany, and Microbiology and an M.S. in Biotechnology, both from Mount Carmel College, an affiliation of Bangalore City University in India, and an M.S. in Microbiology from the University of Arizona in Tucson.
Katerina Roth is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Food Science at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Ms. Roth studies the genomics and spoilage capability of extremophilic bacteria to better understand their ecological roles, reduce food waste, and characterize the genus Alicyclobacillus. In the process, she discovered and published a paper designating three new species of beverage-relevant Alicyclobacillus spp. Her research tackles issues related to microbial tracing and quality assurance. She received a B.S. in Food Science and Technology from the University of California – Davis.
Yesutor K. Soku is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Pathobiology at Tuskegee University in Alabama. Dr. Soku’s current research focuses on understanding the gastrointestinal system’s role in motile Aeromonassepticemia infections in finfish in collaboration with the Aquatic Animal Health Research Unit of the USDA–ARS. He recently completed his graduate fellowship with the USDA–FSIS focusing on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) profile differences of E. coli in channel catfish from the field and its products from processing plants. Dr. Soku earned his M.S. in Aquatic Pathobiology at the University of Stirling in Scotland and his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Ghana, his home country.
Pauline Spagnoli is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Food Technology, Safety and Health at Ghent University in Ghent, Belgium. Ms. Spagnoli’s current research focuses on the development of a roadmap to enhance the maturity of food safety culture in food businesses. Her main goal is to generate validated food safety culture intervention strategies for food processing companies via participative and action-based research. She holds both a B.S. and an M.S. in Bioscience Engineering Technology from Ghent University, and worked as an R&D and Quality Manager in a Belgium chocolate producing company before beginning her Ph.D.
Sloane Stoufer is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Food Science at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in Amherst. Ms. Stoufer’s current research primarily focuses on novel methods to improve detection of foodborne viruses through upstream sample preparation. This involves exploring the use of magnetic ionic liquids and molecularly imprinted polymer nanoparticles as novel capture reagents for foodborne viruses that can be integrated into portable detection systems. Her projects are in collaboration with Iowa State University and the Peeters Research Group at Newcastle University. Ms. Stoufer earned a B.S. in Chemistry with Specialization in Biochemistry from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.
Pranaya Udash is an M.Sc. Food Quality and Safety student in the Department of Life Sciences: Food, Nutrition and Health at the University of Bayreuth in Bavaria, Germany. Mr. Udash is currently involved in an alternative protein project at the university in coordination with the Good Food Institute. The project aims to find solutions to enhance the availability and accessibility of alternative protein sources. This will help benefit both the environment and people’s health by reducing the dependence on animal protein sources and providing a more sustainable option where knowledge of food safety will help develop new criteria for novel food like plant-based meat, cultured meat, etc.
Mr. Udash received a B.Sc. in Nutrition and Dietetics from the Central Campus of Technology at Tribhuvan University in Kathmandu, Nepal. He served as a Nutrition Officer for the Nepali Technical Assistance Group (NTAG) in Surkhet, Nepal from 2017–2020 and as a Food Quality Officer for Aarati Foods in Dharan, Nepal from 2016–2017.
Stevie Ward is an undergraduate student in the College of Letters and Science at the University of Wisconsin – Madison in Madison, where she is majoring in Microbiology with Comprehensive Honors. Ms. Ward plans to continue working as a researcher in the realm of food microbiology and investigating the safety of food products and their relationships with pathogens with the university’s Food Research Institute. Her independent research focused on correlating growth of Clostridium botulinum with toxin production using both a non-animal and animal-based assay, and her current research focuses on establishing a relationship between C. botulinum growth and botulinum toxin production in chicken, pork, and beef using the DIG-ELISA method to reduce the use of laboratory animals in botulinum toxin research.
Surabi Wason is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Food Science at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. Ms. Wason’s research focuses on low-moisture food safety. Current radiofrequency processing involves treatment in open trays followed by packaging, with the potential for cross-contamination post-processing. Her study led to the development of an innovative technology that is technically feasible and commercially adoptable for improving the safety of packaged low-moisture foods. A native of India, Ms. Wason received her B.Sc. in Food Technology from the University of Delhi in India, and her M.Sc. in Food Technology from Guru Nanak Dev University in Punjab, India.
Elvia Elizabeth Yáñez Obregón is an undergraduate student in Microbiology at the Facultad de Ciencias Biológicas of the Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo León in Nuevo León, Mexico. Throughout her undergraduate studies, Ms. Yáñez Obregón has conducted research in food safety at the Microbial Biochemistry and Genetics Laboratory (LABGEM). She is currently working on the methagenomic analysis of feces from beef and dairy cattle, specifically looking at differences in the populations of microorganisms found, and analyzing differences between their resistome, stressome, and virulome. She has also analyzed differences between strains isolated from beef and dairy cattle samples.
In addition, the Korea Association for Food Protection, IAFP's Affiliate, agreed to support travel funds to IAFP 2023 for one student attending a university in Korea. This year's recipient is Pianpian Yan, who is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Food Biotechnology and Environmental Science at Kangwon National University in Gangwon-do, South Korea. Ms. Yan’s current research focuses on food safety and microbiology, specifically aiming to optimize production conditions of slightly acidic electrolyzed water (SAEW) from low- and high-hardness water sources and measuring its efficacy in activating foodborne pathogens. During her academic career, she received two Korean patents on developing novel sanitizers to kill foodborne pathogens. A native of China, Ms. Yan obtained her bachelor’s in Food Science and Engineering from LuDong University and her master’s in Food Processing and Safety from Wuhan Polytechnic University, both in China.
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.