My work in food safety focuses not just on facts and knowledge about food handling practices that protect human health, but also on strategies for educating people in ways that will change their behavior in a positive manner. In addition to classroom teaching, I develop, implement and evaluate Extension outreach programs in food safety and quality, which include home food preservation and foodservice sanitation. My programming emphasizes reducing the risks of foodborne illness by increasing the adoption of safe home preserving and processing practices and other food handling practices. Targeted audiences include consumers at home, public school teachers, and foodservice employees in institutions and restaurants. I find it very curious that despite factual knowledge, people are more willing to trust tradition and uninformed advice of friends when it comes to food handling. There is a challenge in trying to overcome this through education.
I also would like students to leave my class with critical thinking skills about the food they eat and how it is acquired and produced. I also want them to be knowledgeable about science-based resources for their continuing education in this field.
I conduct applied laboratory research on home processing methods and serve as a resource to many other institutions and agencies in this area. Other applied research efforts involve evaluation and impact of community educational programs.
"The science of food related to production, processing, preparing and eating is fascinating. It is a medium for the application and interweaving of microbiology, chemistry and engineering as well as behavioral sciences."