Student Professional Development Group

Mission Statement: To provide students of food safety with a platform to enrich their experience as Members of IAFP.What are our goals?- To provide the opportunity for students to network with peers- To serve as a resource for food safety employers to seek qualified applicants- To encourage effective exchange of information on protecting the food supply by fostering relationships at the student level- To maintain high Membership in IAFP by encouraging students to join the Association- To serve the interests and needs of students- To incorporate change according to the interests and needs of students

Meeting Information

IAFP 2024

July 14, 2024

How to Join

Involvement in committees and professional development groups (PDGs) offers Members the opportunity to share a wealth of knowledge and expertise. Members of committees and PDGs are the architects of the Association structure. They plan, develop and institute many of the Association's projects, including workshops, publications and educational sessions. Technical challenges facing the food safety industry are discussed, examined and debated. Members may volunteer to serve on any number of committees or PDGs that plan and implement activities to meet the Association's mission.

Membership on a PDG is voluntary (not by appointment) and may vary from year to year.

IAFP Members can manage their PDG involvement by logging in to the IAFP Web site. At the Member Dashboard, click “Edit Profile.” Your profile has two tabs: Contact Info and Professional Info. Select the Professional Info tab and update the PDGs you would like to participate in. We highly recommend that you contact the PDG chairperson for each group to let them know you have joined their PDG.

Non-members can contact Dina Siedenburg,, for more information.

What can you do?
The Student PDG asks that you let us know how your Membership in IAFP can be enhanced, as well as your ideas for future events. Active involvement, dedication, and creativity are fundamental for launching and maintaining a successful organization, and we appreciate your interest and support.

Board Responses

2023 Board Response to Recommendations
  1. Recommend approval of Ivannova Lituma for Vice Chair of the Student PDG.

    Board Response: Approved.

  2. Recommend having a medium affordable luncheon rate for new professionals along with promoting the inclusion of new professionals in luncheon and mixer.

    Board Response: IAFP has worked extremely hard to keep the luncheon affordable for students.

  3. Recommend providing guidelines or maybe a social media series for first-time attendees at IAFP on getting more involved with SPDG and other networking opportunities at IAFP.

    Board Response: IAFP is investigating options to provide more guidance for first-time attendees and encourage students to submit ideas to IAFP Staff and Board.

  4. Recommend a webinar on career-related visas, building on a previous visa-related webinar for professional scientists.

    Board Response: Please submit a webinar to the Webinar Committee, and if suggestions are needed for speakers on specific topics, contact IAFP staff.

  5. Recommend a webinar on providing valuable tips and information on how to attract and engage audience specially focused for those students without teaching backgrounds.

    Board Response: Please submit a webinar to the Webinar Committee, and if suggestions are needed for speakers on specific topics, contact IAFP staff.

  6. Recommend webinars for new professionals discussing how to continue maintaining networking with IAFP.

    Board Response: Please submit a webinar to the Webinar Committee, and if suggestions are needed for speakers on specific topics, contact IAFP staff.

  7. Recommend webinar on writing manuscripts and ideas on networking opportunities with prominent industry professionals.

    Board Response: Please submit a webinar to the Webinar Committee, and if suggestions are needed for speakers on specific topics, contact IAFP staff.

  8. Recommend to issue certificates for the 3MT competition winners and finalists.

    Board Response: IAFP staff are happy to provide certificates to the 3MT winners.

2022 Board Response to Recommendations
  1. Recommend Ellen Mendez Sosa as Vice Chair for the year 2022–2023 board.

    Board Response: Agreed.

  2. Student booth at the exhibit hall for next year as well.

    Board Response: Agreed.

  3. Bigger room for Student PDG for next year.

    Board Response: Rooms are assigned based on prior year’s attendance in comparison to other meetings being scheduled at the same time.

  4. Joshua, post-doc at Michigan State, recommends that the scholarship awardee announcement be announced earlier enough for international students to get enough time for visa application.

    Board Response: Embassy appointments for Visa applications for IAFP 2022 were very delayed due to a backlog of applications. The backlog should clear assuming the Embassies are back to normal staffing levels.

  5. Joshua also recommended – specifying different African countries (who is from where) and not just mentioning as ‘African countries'.

    Board Response: This makes sense. If there is a specific instance, please inform the Board.

2021 Board Response to Recommendations
  1. 1. Recommend approval of Claire Marik Murphy for Vice Chair of the Student PDG.

    Board Response: Agree.

  2. 2. We have appreciated the space that the IAFP Staff and Board have provided students so far with the Student Booth in the Exhibit Hall. We would like to recommend the expansion of the Student Booth by providing additional sitting spaces to create a place for students to network with peers, professionals, and mentors. Alternatively, we recognize that there are constraints with Exhibit Hall set up and believe that a set of tables and chairs in the conference venue sectioned off for students could provide a similar result.

    Board Response: This will vary each year and depend on the facility in which we are meeting. We will consider expanding space for the Student Booth when additional space is available.

  3. 3. Recommend the ability to live stream future Student PDG Business Meetings to allow for the inclusion of students unable to attend the in-person meeting.

    Board Response: Virtual meetings may be held anytime throughout the year and all PDGs are encouraged to hold periodic meetings (virtually). We plan to return to in-person PDG meetings in 2022. Zoom or other options can be used as desired if you wish to include remote participants in your meeting. A projector, screen and WiFi will be provided in the meeting rooms.

2020 Board Response to Recommendations
  1. Recommend Erika Estrada for Vice Chair of the Student PDG.

    Board Response: Agree.

  2. Recommend continuation of two-hour PDG meeting length for student group for next year’s meeting.

    Board Response: Agree.

  3. Although we did not sell t-shirts this year, we had a successful pre-sale two years ago. Once again, we would like to recommend the Board order a larger quantity of t-shirts for the 2021 Annual Meeting sale.

    Board Response: Agree.

  4. We were grateful for the opportunity for students to attend the IAFP COVID-19 Food Safety Global Summit free-of-charge through a fee-waiver. We would like to recommend similar fee-waivers/scholarship opportunities for students to attend workshops, webinars, or other similar events.

    Board Response: Agree. For webinars that charge a fee, waivers should be provided, if possible. Workshops are offered to students at one-half of the registration fee. Fee waiver requests can always be considered.

2019 Board Response to Recommendations
  1. Recommend Minh Duong for Student Professional Development Group Vice Chair.

    Board Response: Agree.

  2. Recommend continuing a 2-hour PDG meeting length for next year’s meeting.

    Board Response: Agree.

  3. Because of a successful presale we recommend to the Board that we order a larger quantity of T-shirts and continue to work closely with staff on distribution at the Annual Meeting.

    Board Response: Agree. Work with staff to increase the order number

  4. We recommend an additional student Board member position to the Student PDG officer board that would represent international students.

    Board Response: Agree.

2018 Board Response to Recommendations
  1. Recommend Margaret Kirchner for Student Professional Development Group Vice Chair.

    Board Response: Agree.

  2. Continue the presale of t-shirts online during registration for the Annual Meeting, but collect sizes, so shirts can be set aside.

    Board Response: Agree.

  3. Expand Student Liaison program to Committees, as currently this program only connects to PDGs.

    Board Response: Agree.

  4. Discuss adding a student representative to the Executive Board to represent student affairs.

    Board Response: The Board is open and available to meet with Student PDG representatives to discuss student affairs.

  5. Create a designated space at the Annual Meeting for mentors and mentees to meet.

    Board Response: Agree.

  6. Provide signage or funds to print signage to identify the student booth and distinguish it from other exhibitor booths.

    Board Response: Agree. Staff will work with Student PDG leaders to redesign the Student PDG booth for 2019.

  7. Extend the time allotted for student lunch and business meeting to allow adequate time for lunch, competition and PDG business.

    Board Response: Agree. A second time slot may be needed for the Student PDG business meeting. Please provide your preference of time to staff.

  8. Provide monetary compensation (even if small) for all student labor during the Annual Meeting (ex. scanning badges, handing out programs, etc.). We are encouraging students to be actively involved in the meeting, and action taking them away from the program should be appropriately compensated.

    Board Response: A stipend is provided for student monitors but there are some needs for volunteers where compensations should not be necessary.

  9. Declare ‘student’ as a topic in symposia submissions, as all other PDGs are represented as a topic.

    Board Response: Agree. Sessions organized by the Student PDG should be identified in the program.

2017 Board Response to Recommendations
  1. We recommend the inclusion of a Student Liaison for the Program Committee. The Liaison will serve as an extra resource for this group to help with information collection and distribution to PDGs (i.e., symposia acceptance and rejection with sponsored and co-sponsored PDGs). The Liaison will also serve in any capacity that this group deems appropriate.

    Board Response: The Board will discuss with the Program Committee at its February 2018 meeting.

  2. We recommend the incorporation of a Student Liaison for all PDGs. The Liaison position will connect students with professionals in their respective areas of interest. The PDGs will gain a representative that will be able to help in a variety of capacities and this position will provide a direct outlet for awarding student achievement.

    Board Response: Agree, in discussion with PDG Chairs and Vice Chairs, it was determined that the Student PDG should select or appoint a Student Liaison to each PDG and inform the IAFP staff so they can inform the specific PDG.

  3. We thank the Executive Board for providing students with a space in the exhibit hall for students to interact and sell t-shirts. We recommend that the Executive Board continues to provide a space in the exhibit hall in the coming year.

    Board Response: Agree.

2016 Board Response to Recommendations
  1. We thank the Executive Board for providing the students a space within the exhibit hall. We would recommend that you continue this in the coming year.

    Board Response: We will continue this for IAFP 2017.

2015 Board Response to Recommendations
  1. Allow students to have student-based/led symposia, roundtables, etc.

    Board Response: There have been student-led symposia in the past and the Board encourages the Student PDG to continue this effort.


  • Green Cards for Scientific Researchers: How to win your EB-1A/NIW Case

    Organized by: IAFP's Student Professional Development Group

    Brian Getson is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Law School with 25 years of experience. He is a leading U.S. immigration lawyer who represents scientific researchers in applying for green cards and leads his immigration law firm based in Philadelphia. Mr. Getson has given presentations on "Green Cards for Scientific Researchers" at numerous major scientific conferences, the Wistar Institute, and at Universities. Mr. Getson often provides a money-back guarantee to qualified applicants giving clients confidence that they will get results.

    Learning Objectives:
    1. To gain some background visas such as EB-1 & NIW for international graduate students or postdoctoral scholars in the STEM area.
    2. To learn more about immigrant (permanent) or nonimmigrant (temporary) work visas based on achievement for scientific researchers.
    3. To learn how to effectively prepare and present evidence in support of a petition submitted to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services

    Download Slides

    • Brian Getson, Presenter Getson & Schatz, P.C.
    • Minji Hur, Moderator University of Georgia
  • Navigating the USAJOBS Application Process

    Organized by: The IAFP Student PDG

    In this two-hour webinar, the Office of Personnel Management will provide a 1.5-hour presentation on how to navigate the USAJOBS application process including how to find and apply for federal jobs. Topics will include how to create a profile, understanding eligibility vs qualifications, how to save searches, how to make your resume searchable, etc. Additionally, this webinar will provide 30 minutes for the audience to ask questions to the Office of Personnel Management.

    Learning Objectives:
    1.) How to apply for jobs through the USAJobs system
    2.) Understand what jobs you are eligible vs qualified for
    3.) How to search for jobs and save jobs searches
    4.) Debunk common myths about the federal job application process
    5.) Answer any questions the audience has about applying for federal jobs

    Download Slides

    • Lauren Foreman, Presenter Office of Personnel Management
    • Katherine Kovar, Presenter Office of Personnel Management
    • Claire Murphy, Moderator Virginia Tech
  • Developing and Utilizing Your LinkedIn Profile for Graduate Students and Young Professionals

    Organized by: IAFP Student PDG

    This webinar will provide guidance aimed at students and early career professionals on how to build and develop a professional on-line personal brand using LinkedIn. This webinar will touch upon which parts of your LinkedIn profile to focus on and how to customize your profile for your career goals. This webinar will also discuss how organizations utilize LinkedIn to identify talent for open positions to emphasize which parts of the profile are important.

    Learning Objectives:
    1.) How to build and develop a professional on-line personal brand using LinkedIn
    2.) Discuss which parts of your LinkedIn profile are important to have developed
    3.) How to write an "About" section
    4.) How to customize your profile for your career goals

    Download Slides

    • Lauren Celano, Presenter Propel Careers
    • Claire Murphy, Moderator Virginia Tech
  • Making the Most of The Time You Have: Communicating Technical Food Safety Science in a Short Amount of Time

    This webinar will cover how to communicate food safety science to a general audience in a short amount of time. Every scientist has to present complex concepts to a general audience, and understanding how to communicate these concepts clearly and concisely to the general public, a non-scientist co-worker, or even a supervisor is an invaluable skill. This skill is important especially in food safety where scientific discoveries can influence public policy, industry practices, and consumer food safety behaviors. Oral presentations and visuals can be effectively used to facilitate this communication. This webinar seeks to provide useful techniques and insights on how to use both forms of communication effectively to a non-technical audience.

    Download Slides

    • Katie Overbey, Moderator Johns Hopkins University, Maryland, USA
    • Benjamin Chapman, Speaker North Carolina State University, North Carolina, USA
    • Laura Strawn, Speaker Virginia Tech, Virginia, USA
    • Elizabeth Bradshaw, Speaker NC Department of Health, North Carolina, USA
    • Danielle Hennis, Speaker Make It Memorable, North Carolina, USA
  • Starting Bioinformatics from Zero as a Biologist

    Sponsored by IEH Laboratories & Consulting and the IAFP Student Professional Development Group

    Help! You're a food microbiologist embarking on an RNA or DNA-sequencing project for the first time. Where do you start? What tools should you use? What do all these new terms mean? Can you do this on your laptop? What is Linux, anyway? We'll answer these questions and more in this one-hour webinar meant to provide you with some of the vocabulary and resources you will need to develop a game plan for learning bioinformatics.

    Google drive folder with helpful information:

    Download Slides

    • Andrea Etter, Presenter Assistant Professor of Food Science and Nutrition, University of Vermont
    • Jessica Chen, Presenter Microbiologist, IHRC Inc.
    • Peter Cook, Presenter Post-Doctoral Researcher, Center for Food Safety, University of Georgia - Griffin
    • Lee Katz, Presenter Enteric Diseases Laboratory Branch, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
    • Stephanie Brown, Moderator Graduate Research Assistant, University of Connecticut