Paola Corea Ventura

Paola is a first-year Master´s student from El Salvador. She earned her B.S. in Food Science and Technology from Zamorano University in Honduras. She first came to the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign for an internship in 2021 in Dr. Jaume Amengual´s lab and worked on an animal model for HIV and on an Atherosclerosis regression project. She is now pursuing her M.S. in Food Science and Human Nutrition in Dr. Stasiewicz´s lab.  

She is currently working on a milk spoilage project for K-12 schools to understand how, if at all, the rate of milk spoilage changes as an effect of being exposed to different temperature conditions, and the length of time spent in these conditions. She is also working on testing antimicrobial effectiveness against Salmonella on pork meat.  

She enjoys doing yoga, watching comedy movies, and spending time with her friends. 

Gabby Pinto

Gabby is a first-year PhD student from Illinois. She earned her B.S. in Food Science with a Microbiology Minor from Penn State University.

She is currently working on writing a hazard analysis for share tables in school cafeterias.

She enjoys training for marathons and traveling to new places (sometimes, to run marathons)! She also enjoys trying new places to eat.

Minho Kim

Minho is a first-year Ph.D. student from South Korea. He earned B.S. in Food Science and Technology from Chung-ang University and an M.S. in Food Science and Technology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

He is currently working on simulating dairy powder products to improve food safety sampling plans. His research goal is to provide industry stakeholders with an open-source app to evaluate existing and candidate plans.

He likes outdoor activities, including playing tennis, hiking, and biking.

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Tina Wu

Tina is a first-year PhD student from China. She earned her B.E. in Food Science and Engineering from Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University and M.S. in Food Science and Technology from National University of Singapore.

She is currently working on developing aggregative sampling for preharvest food safety testing. She also participates in research about building a field-to-facility generic supply chain model of produce safety testing.

She enjoys travelling, skiing, and cooking.

Ruben A. Chavez Viteri

Ruben is a third-year PhD student from Ecuador. He earned his B.S. in Chemistry from The University of Tampa.

He is currently developing a Near Infrared Red/ Visible Light/ Ultraviolet light spectrometer to detect aflatoxin and fumonisin in corn. His research goal is to create a sorting platform with a spectrometer capable of removing mycotoxin contaminated corn kernels and minimize food waste while improving food security.

He loves to practice sports, especially soccer, and play videogames with his friends. He is a food lover, and in his leisure, he likes to improve his culinary skills.

Cristina Resendiz-Moctezuma

Cristina is a second-year PhD student from Mexico. She earned her B.S. in Food Science from the Autonomous University of Queretaro. She first came to the lab for a summer internship in 2018, then started her grad school journey in Fall 2019.

She uses a high-throughput system to test the effectiveness of novel antimicrobials, such as essential oils, against Listeria monocytogenes on deli-ham. She also focuses her research on understanding the action mechanisms of these compounds using RNA-seq.

She enjoys cooking and watching series (Especially, Grey’s Anatomy on repeat).

Eleanore Hansen

Elea was an undergraduate research assistant in the lab during her junior and senior years in the food science program. She performed DNA extraction, PCR, and gel electrophoresis to support AJ Taylor’s work in detecting Listeria monocytogenes persistence. Elea also helped Shannon Rezac test combinations of antimicrobials against L. monocytogenes in a miniature ham model.

After completing her BS in Food Science and Chemistry at UIUC, Elea went to the University of Minnesota for a master’s program in Food Science with an emphasis on food safety and microbiology. She is currently working to isolate novel bacteriophage from wastewater to combat Salmonella in foods. In Fall 2021, Elea is planning to begin a PhD program at the University of Minnesota in Regulatory Toxicology.

Elea enjoys eating (a lot), listening to true crime stories, yarn crafting, and reading about food safety scandals.”

Yawei Lin

Yawei worked as an undergraduate research assistant in Dr. Stasiewicz’s lab in Spring 2019. She helped with the literature review to collect useful information for developing QMRA for share tables in the school cafeteria. She also helped with mycotoxin detection in wheat kernels.

She is now a M.S student in food safety at Michigan State University, working on microbial assessment during wheat tempering and determine the effectiveness of heat pasteurization during processing.

A.J. Taylor

A.J’s project was focused on understanding two possible facets for detecting persistence in the foodborne pathogen, Listeria monocytogenes. He looked at detection methods through either using bioinformatic tools or by growth responses to various biochemical energy sources.  While he was unable to find conclusive detection methods, it narrowed down methods for future researchers in detecting persistent L. monocytogenes.

After completing his Master’s in Food Science with Dr. Stasiewicz,  he moved onto a Ph.D. program in Food Science with Dr. Nicki Engeseth at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and now he is working on understanding the parameters that influence cacao bean fermentation to make chocolate.

Xianbin (Eric) Cheng

He is a 5th year PhD student. He earned his B.S. in Food Science from Rutgers University and a B.E. in Food Science and Engineering from South China University of Technology.

He is currently working on building Monte Carlo simulation models to investigate bulk sampling in produce fields or grain bins with the goal of improving sampling effectiveness. He also participates in research that utilizes UV-Vis-NIR spectroscopy and machine learning to rapidly classify contaminated corn kernels.

He loves eating seafood and avian species, likes traveling to places with beaches, oceans, and lots of sunshine, and owns a cat.

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