Basic Research Approach
The most recent estimates from 2011 are that about 1 in 6 Americans experience a foodborne disease each year leading to around 3,000 deaths annually. More critically, the incidence of some important foodborne diseases, such as those caused by Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes have not decreased in the past decade. Globally, the first comprehensive estimates – from the Global Burden of Foodborne Disease study – were published in 2015 and find that almost 1 in 10 people globally experience a foodborne disease each year and those cause over 400,000 deaths in children less than 5 years old. Clearly, food safety continues to be important in the US and globally.
A major challenge in food safety microbiology is to modernize the field from classical microbiological approaches – swabbing, plating, phenotyping – to fully embracing modern techniques – molecular genetics, next-generation sequencing, big-data analytics. To address this major challenge, I focus my research at the interface between three academic domains of microbiology, engineering, and statistics and data science.
My long-term goal is to address fundamental questions in food safety microbiology where answers are relevant to practical questions of food safety management. I find that my most unique scientific role is as a translator and interpreter who gathers experts from microbiology, engineering, and statistics around a common problem and leads them towards innovative solutions.
- Testing the potential of distilling as an alternative use for DON-contaminated wheatA five month project funded by Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE): The goal of this project is to provide guidance to farmers, millers, and distillers about whether and at what levels DON contaminated grain can be safely used in distillation, thus impacting farmer, miller, and distiller decision-making in selling and using these grains. We… Read more: Testing the potential of distilling as an alternative use for DON-contaminated wheat
- Flexible risk process models can be used to quantify residual risks and the impact of interventions on residual risksA project funded by Center for Produce Safety (CPS). Renewable for up to three years. The produce industry needs a model to (i) identify the most important risks in a supply chain and (ii) identify which practices and control strategies appropriately reduce risks of contamination events that could lead to product recalls and illness outbreaks.… Read more: Flexible risk process models can be used to quantify residual risks and the impact of interventions on residual risks
- Risk Assessment Comparing Alternative Approaches to Regulating Salmonella in Poultry by Public Health Impact FactorsA 1-year and 3 month project funded by US poultry: The hypotheses of this project are: The project will test these hypotheses with the following objectives:
- Microplasma-based Far-UVC light decontamination approaches for improving the safety of ready-to-eat meat productsOur group will collaborate with PI (Yi-Cheng Wang) on a two-year project funded by USDA NIFA The long-term goal of this project is to develop a revolutionary, yet inexpensive and easy-to-use, decontamination technique, whereby retailers and other stakeholders can readily minimize cross-contamination and improve food safety. This will ultimately benefit the American people by increasing… Read more: Microplasma-based Far-UVC light decontamination approaches for improving the safety of ready-to-eat meat products
- Advancing Food Recovery in K-12 School Cafeterias by Removing Food Safety and Operational Barriers of Share TablesOur group is a co-PI (Lead PI is Dr. Prescott) on this three year research and Extension project funded by: Objectives: More information can be found in the funder’s database.
- Testing for Enterococcus faceium reduction during corn wet milling dry product productionA 10-week project funded by CRA Corn Refiners Association: The hypothesis tested in this project is that pilot-scale adaptations of industrially relevant unit operations of steeping, peroxide treatment, and drying, reduce counts of the indicator organism Enterococcus faecium in inoculated challenge studies. The specific objectives to test this hypothesis are:
- Simulating Powdered Product Sampling to Improve Food Safety Sampling PlansA 1-year and 3 month project funded by IAFNS: The overall objective of this project is to build a simulation for powdered product testing. This work would provide not just comprehensive guidance on generic powder plans, but a tool for industry to assess their specific concerns when working to improve their food safety testing plans.… Read more: Simulating Powdered Product Sampling to Improve Food Safety Sampling Plans
- Digital farm-to-facility food safety testing optimizationA two-year project funded by the: With the following three objectives: More information on the project can be found in the funder’s database.
- Improving Microbial Food Safety Through Engineering and Statistical Approaches in Food MicrobiologyA five-year project funded by USDA NIFA Hatch funds which represented a significant portion of my group’s startup funds. To support the long-term goal of developing a flexible applied food safety laboratory, Hatch funds will be used to support the following initial, discrete projects: More information can be found on the funder’s database.
- Simulation Analysis of In-Field Produce Sampling for Risk-Based Sampling Plan DevelopmentA two year project funded by the: With the following four objectives: More information on the project can be found in the funder’s database. Here is a 1-minute update from 2019.