Food Microbiology & Safety

Dr. Kristen Gibson

Dr. Kristen Gibson
Associate Professor

Research Emphasis: Foodborne Viruses and Public Health

The current research focus of Dr. Gibson's laboratory is on the fate and transport of pathogens within food systems with a focus on human noroviruses and fresh produce as well as retail food safety.

Current research projects:

  1. Evaluation of foodborne virus persistence on surfaces under ambient conditions relevant to the food industry
  2. Investigation of combined antimicrobials and bacteriophage for control of pathogens in food products.
  3. Development of novel consumer outreach tools to enhance food safety at farmers markets.
  4. Evaluation of human norovirus interactions with human gut and environmental microbiota to determine impact on virus persistence, transmission, and infectivity.

Download an example of the research conducted by Dr. Gibson.

Dr. Phil Crandall

Dr. Philip Crandall

Research Emphasis: Retail Food Safety

Dr. Crandall's research is focused on retail food safety and the use of green technologies that minimize the risk from foodborne pathogens for consumers from farm to fork.  

Current Research Projects: 

  1. Proper hand hygiene is one of the most critical factors in keeping foods- especially ready-to-eat foods- safe, but only 20% of employees wash their hands properly. We are conducting research to understand the lack of motivation to comply with hand-washing protocols, collecting data in child care settings and looking at differences among sub-populations.
  2. The workforce in the food industry is highly diverse and initial training in food safety is vital in preventing food-borne illness. Our research is focused on identifying and filling gaps in the training of new employees.
  3. We are continuing our efforts to understand the biology of Listeria especially in nutrient depleted environments like food processing plants and retail delis. We have just published a review of the literature on the interaction of the environment and Listeria’s virulence factors. 

Download Dr. Crandall's research impact statements.

Dr. Steven Ricke

Dr. Steven Ricke
Professor, Donald "Buddy" Wray Chair in Food Safety

Research Emphasis Area: Foodborne Pathogens

The mission of Dr. Ricke’s research program is to understand mechanisms of foodborne bacterial pathogen (SalmonellaListeria, and Campylobacter) contamination at all phases of food production and develop a more integrated control effort.

Current research projects:

  1. Development of effective Campylobacter vaccines for poultry using an attenuated Salmonella carrier to express outside epitopes to trigger the immune system. Eventual goal is development of successful Campylobacter vaccine constructs that will limit colonization in birds by this major foodborne pathogen.
  2. Screening of sources of potential prebiotic type compounds that limit Salmonella and Campylobacter colonization in poultry and optimize bird health and performance.  Assessment methods include high-throughput in vitro cecal incubations in combination with the marker strain of the pathogen and the prebiotic candidate. Microbiome and fermentation responses are monitored as well enumeration of the respective foodborne pathogen are measured.
  3. In vivo challenge chicken model trials with the respective pathogen being introduced to birds being fed candidate prebiotic compounds. Cecal microbiome, host immune, and fermentation responses are monitored as well enumeration of the respective foodborne pathogen.
  4. Assessing microbiome changes on poultry carcasses occurring during poultry processing.  Comparing these changes to changes in traditional indicator organisms and pathogen loads on carcass rinses.

Download Dr.Ricke's research impact statement.