IAFP Announces 2021 Student Travel Scholarship Recipients
Wednesday, April 28, 2021
Des Moines, Iowa – The International Association for Food Protection (IAFP) will present Student Travel Scholarships to the following individuals at IAFP 2021, July 18–21, in Phoenix, Arizona. Sponsored by the IAFP Foundation, the Student Travel Scholarships provide travel funds to enable selected students to travel to and participate in IAFP 2021.
Jessica Brown recently received her M.S. in Animal Sciences from the University of Florida in Gainesville, with a concentration in meat science and food safety. Ms. Brown’s thesis predominantly focused on the microbial validation of a restructured beef jerky product that could be produced under the constraints of an Ethiopian butcher shop. This project consisted of a product development, along with a series of microbial validation studies to evaluate the reduction of Salmonella enterica, E. coli O157:H7, and Campylobacter jejuni during the drying. The goal was to develop a process that could be utilized by Ethiopian processors to generate a safe,
protein rich, and shelf-stable product using starting material that might otherwise be less desirable. Ms. Brown earned her B.S. in Animal Sciences from the University of Florida and will begin her Ph.D. studies in the fall of 2021 at the University of Wisconsin – Madison.
Shiyu Cai is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Food Science at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Ms. Cai’s current dissertation work tackles the problem of black yeast spoilage in the beverage industry using tools from applied food processing and fungal genomics. The goal of her research is to understand the intraspecific and interspecific differences in stress resistance with the black yeast functional group; characterize spoilage risk under different processing and formulation controls; and evaluate tolerance to the physical and chemical aspects of environmental sanitation. She received her B.S. in Food Science from Purdue University and her M.S. in Food Science from Cornell University.
Bienvenido (Ben) W. Cortes is a doctoral candidate in the Interdepartmental Microbiology Graduate Program at Iowa State University in Ames. Mr. Cortes’ current research focuses on the response of L. monocytogenes to stressors commonly encountered in food production environments. He has utilized a variety of molecular techniques to enable the functional characterization of two genes that were highly upregulated following lactic acid stress. His work seeks to elucidate the genetic and molecular mechanisms underlying L. monocytogenes stress survival with the purpose of providing foundational knowledge for applied food safety research. Mr. Cortes has a B.A. in Biology from Benedictine College.
Devin Daeschel is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Food Science at Cornell University, with a concentration in food microbiology. Among many projects Mr. Daeschel is currently working on, his primary project is developing a standardized vocabulary for describing environmental swab locations in food processing plants. The goal is to convert existing swab site data into a machine-readable form such that the machine learning models can be used to help predict harborage sites of Listeria monocytogenes in food processing plants. Other research focuses on evaluating the accuracy of visual tests used to determine if food processing equipment has been adequately cleaned. Mr. Daeschel holds a B.S. in Microbiology from Oregon State University.
Adwoa Dankwa is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at the University of Maine in Orono. Ms. Dankwa is currently working to optimize and standardize the microbial and chemical compositions of fermented beverages using kombucha and water kefir as test models. Her study aims to stabilize and reproduce the chemical and microbial compositions of fermented products by standardizing the production cycles and preserving quality to maximize health benefits. A native of Ghana, Africa, Ms. Dankwa received her B.Sc. in Agriculture (Plant Production) from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Ghana and her M.S. in Plant, Soil, and Environmental Sciences from the University of Maine.
Minh Duong is completing his Ph.D. in the Department of Food Science and Technology at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. Mr. Duong’s research is about evaluating the accuracy, accessibility, and literacy of existing produce food safety resources for farms and farm workers. The goal is to inform the development of new educational materials that are specifically tailored for small farmers and underserved farm workers. He holds a B.S. in Biological Sciences from Virginia Tech and an M.S. in Food Science from North Carolina State University.
Marina Girbal is an M.S. student in the Department of Food Science at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey in New Brunswick. Ms. Girbal’s current research focuses on the effect of significant factors, such as temperature or mode of inoculation, on Listeria monocytogenes growth on fresh, uncut produce, with hopes that her research will lead to better pathogen detection on environmental surfaces in the food industry. She received a B.S. in Chemical Engineering at the Polytechnical University of Catalonia in Spain.
Sarah L. Jones is a Ph.D. candidate in Food Science in the Department of Food Science at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. Ms. Jones’ current research involves the characterization of the environmental sampling tools, surfaces, and environmental conditions found in the food processing environments. In her research, microorganisms of interest include Listeria monocytogenes, non-typhoidal Salmonella, and Tulane virus, a human norovirus surrogate. Her goal is that her research will lead to better pathogen detection on environmental surfaces in the food industry. She earned her B.S. in Food Science and Industry from Kansas State University.
Karuna Kharel is a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Nutrition and Food Sciences at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, majoring in Food Science and Technology and specializing in Food Safety. Ms. Kharel’s dissertation is on developing edible antimicrobial coating with bioactive from pecan shells to inactivate pathogens on fresh produce without affecting quality. A native of Nepal, she received her B.S. in Food Science and Technology from Tribhuvan University in Nepal and her M.S. in Food Science and Technology from Louisiana State University.
Minji Kim is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Food Science at the University of Massachusetts – Amherst. Ms. Kim’s current research focuses on the development of nanopore-based sensing technology for in-field detection of foodborne and agricultural pathogens. She is currently working on the human norovirus, a foodborne pathogen, as a proof-of-concept which, if proven to be clinically successful, can be applied for agricultural purposes. A native of South Korea, Ms. Kim earned both a B.S. and an M.S. in Food Science and Nutrition from Pusan National University.
Brenda Kimang’a is a Master’s student at the University of Nairobi in the Department of Food Science, Nutrition, and Technology in Kenya. Current research by Ms. Kimang’a focuses on the antimicrobial effect of botanical coatings on the post-harvest shelf-life and quality of tomatoes as a preservation technology due to poor post-handling in Kenya. This research aims to develop affordable interventions for the small-scale farmers, who are key players in Kenya’s agriculture, to help reduce food safety risks along the tomato value chain. A native of Kenya, Ms. Kimang’a received her B.S. in Food Science and Technology from the University of Nairobi.
Xingchen Liu is a Ph.D. candidate in Plant Science in the Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture at the University of Maryland, College Park. Ms. Liu’s dissertation focuses on the mechanism of interactions between human pathogens and leafy greens under abiotic stresses. Her current research aims to discover the impact of plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR) on produce yield and microbial safety to help create a helpful avenue for growers to cope with climate change and ensure produce supply and safety in a more practical and sustainable manner. A native of China, Ms. Liu holds a B.E. in Viticulture and Enology Engineering and an M.E. in Food Engineering, both from China Agricultural University.
Ajay Mittal will graduate in May 2021 with a Master’s in Food Science and Technology from the International Centre of Excellence in Seafood Science and Innovation, Faculty of Agro-Industry, from Prince of Songkla University in Songkhla, Thailand. Mr. Mittal is currently researching bioactive compounds from seafood waste, especially from shrimp processing industries, and its potential application in seafood safety and functional food development. A native of North India, he earned a Bachelor of Fisheries Science from Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University in India.
Owade (Joshua) Ombaka is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Food Science, Nutrition and Technology at the University of Nairobi. Mr. Ombaka’s research focuses on utilization of the lactic acid bacteria in the enhancement of value addition and quality amelioration of processed cowpea leaves. A native of Kenya, he holds a B.Sc. in Food Science, Nutrition and Dietetics and an M.Sc. in Food Safety and Quality, both from the University of Nairobi.
Solomon Rajkumar Racharla is pursuing his Ph.D. in the Department of Livestock Products Technology, College of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, at Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences University in Wayanad, Kerala, India. Dr. Rajkumar’s research is in the quality and safety of ethnic meat products, with his dissertation focused on the production, quality attributes, and consumption patterns of ethnic Goan pork sausages, a prestigious and highly-valued product among consumers at the household level of Goa in India. This study is designed to scientifically document all attributes, essential for enhancing the quality and safety of the product. Dr. Racharla received his Bachelor’s in Veterinary and Animal Sciences from Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Veterinary Education and Research and his Master’s in Veterinary Science from the Indian Veterinary Research Institute, both in his native country of India.
Keshnee Reega is pursuing her M.Phil./Ph.D. in the Department of Agricultural and Food Science at the University of Mauritius in Mauritius. Ms. Reega’s current doctoral thesis is in the field of predictive food microbiology. Her dissertation is focused on developing microbial growth models that will help ascertain the safety of tuna and its by-products for human consumption and potential cosmetic application. The ultimate goal is to help expedite the exposure assessment phase of microbial risk evaluation in the tuna industry to allow for faster decision-making with respect to the release of consignments of cooked tuna products and the overall acceptance of the tuna lots at the clients’ end. She received her B.Sc. in Microbiology from the University of Mauritius.
Anna Townsend is completing her Ph.D. in the Department of Food Science and Technology at the University of Georgia in Athens. Ms. Townsend’s doctoral research assesses Listeria prevalence within grocery distribution centers to address microbial risk to fresh produce. This research aims to determine if there are relationships between Listeria prevalence and factors such as facility cleaning and sanitizing operations, and environmental characteristics of distribution centers. She holds a B.A. in Biology from the University of Kentucky and an M.S. in Food Science from the University of Georgia.
Joseph Wambui is a Ph.D. candidate in the Institute for Food Safety and Hygiene at the University of Zurich in Switzerland. One of Mr. Wambui’s research projects includes establishing and applying various bioinformatic and phenotypic analytical methods to identify and characterize novel bacteriocins from psychrotrophic spore-forming bacteria. His second project is working on the identification and characterization of naturally occurring genetic variations contributing to intrinsic nisin resistance in Listeria monocytogenes. A native of Kenya, Mr. Wambui received his M.Sc. in Food Safety and Quality and his B.Sc. in Food Science and Technology, both from the University of Nairobi.
Christina Wormald is an M.Sc. student in the Department of Food Science at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in Amherst. Ms. Wormald’s primary thesis project involves working with small- and medium-size food processors to improve adoption of food safety plans and raise food safety awareness through extension-based virtual programming initiatives. She is also researching developing and analyzing effective novel products for cleaning and disinfecting virus-containing food contact surfaces in the food industry. Ms. Wormald received a B.S. in Food Science and Microbiology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
Jiyoon Yi is pursuing her Ph.D. in the Food Science Group at the University of California – Davis, studying food safety engineering. Ms. Yi’s research focuses on food engineering using experimental and computational approaches to enhance food safety and quality. Her current research is on reducing microbial contamination of fresh produce by improving postharvest processing technologies. Her experimental research involves process design/control, microbial cross-contamination, and antimicrobial development for surface disinfection. Ms. Yi received a B.S. in both Food Science and Engineering and in Mathematics, and her M.Sc. in Food Science and Technology, all at Ewha Womans University in South Korea.
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.