2009 Texas Tech Integrated Scholar
Professor, Food Safety and Public Health, College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources; Director, International Center for Food Industry Excellence (ICFIE)
“A lot of our work really has shifted to Mexico, and we do both research and training there. Food-borne illness is the number one cause of death in children under five in Mexico, and it’s very preventable. It’s our goal to reduce the amount of salmonella and E. coli and other pathogens in the food supply in Mexico by working with the processing plants and the animal growers and the retail markets to reduce the amount of bacteria that gets to the consumer."
What is your research objective/interest(s)?
My interests are in the area of food safety and public heath with an emphasis on improving food safety and security worldwide.
How do you feel your research impacts the globe?
Food-borne illness results in loss of life across the globe. For example, food-borne illness is the number one cause of death in children under 5 in Mexico. This is preventable. Our work in Mexico and in Central/South America impacts people and improves the quality of their lives by providing them with safer food products.
Where do you get your inspiration?
I get my inspiration from the world around me. When I see a problem that I think we can address then I try to find a way to solve it.
What type(s) of service projects do you enjoy doing?
I view everything we do as a service. Our lab has "One goal: one vision"..."TO SERVE"....the industry, consumers, fellow faculty, the U.S. and the world by providing them with a safer food supply.
What are you currently working on?
We have 25-30 projects going on simultaneously in the lab at any given time. In broad terms, we are working on interventions to reduce food-borne pathogens in feed products, validation of industry operations to reduce pathogens and a variety of packaging methods to control food-borne pathogens. In the pre-harvest area we are studying the emergence of antibiotic resistance in beef and dairy cattle and also studying pre-harvest interventions to reduce pathogens prior to slaughter. Finally, we have several projects going on in Mexico and are initiating projects in Honduras to study pathogen baselines in their food supply and to identify control areas to reduce pathogen prevalence.
What advice do you have for new faculty members on balancing the components of an integrated scholar into their careers (academics, research and service)?
Do what you love to do. Don't let your focus be on "what you need to do to get tenure," and do what inspires you. The pieces you need for a tenure packet will fall into place if you focus on your passions.
- B.S. in food technology from Texas Tech University
- M.S. and Ph.D. in food science from Oklahoma State University
- Hometown: Wheeler, Texas