Researchers 

Dr. Patrick Baur, University of Rhode Island

Dr. Baur is an assistant professor of Food Innovation and Policy, Dept. of Fisheries, Animal and Veterinary Sciences who works in the areas of environmental and health policy for agriculture, with a focus on challenges to implementation and achieving desired environmental and social outcomes in practice. Broadly, his research promotes equitable and sustainable balance among human livelihoods, public health, and ecosystems by improving how food is grown. Dr. Baur has significant experience researching the development and implementation of food safety policies and regulations, with a particular focus on unintended social, economic, and environmental impacts resulting from food safety policy.  

Dr. Aaron Adalja, Cornell University

Dr. Adalja is an assistant professor of Food and Beverage Management in the School of Hotel Administration. He is an agricultural economist with a specific interest in the economics of produce safety. He brings to the team considerable experience modeling the cost of implementing farm management practices and expertise in applied microeconometrics and survey design. Dr. Adalja has been involved with several projects examining how economic factors impact growers’ adoption of food safety practices, including projects that analyzed: (i) the effect of farm operation characteristics on GAP implementation among growers; (ii) the cost burden faced by growers in complying with federally mandated food safety practices; and (iii) how food recalls, foodborne illnesses, and other industry factors incentivize commodity organizations to voluntarily adopt stricter food safety guidelines

Dr. Elizabeth A. Bihn, Cornell University

Dr. Bihn is the director of the Produce Safety Alliance and National Good Agricultural Practices Program and a senior research associate for the Department of Food Science at Cornell University.  For over 20 years, Dr. Bihn has engaged with fresh fruit and vegetable growers and packers nationally and internationally through training and one-on-one interactions to assist them with understanding food safety concepts and implementing food safety practices on their farms. As the director of the Produce Safety Alliance, she led the development of the PSA curriculum that meets the training requirements outlined in provision 112.22(c) of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule (PSR). As some PSR provisions are not yet released (i.e., Subpart F -untreated biological soil amendment of animal origin) or have extended compliance dates (i.e., Subpart E – Agricultural Water), Dr. Bihn and the PSA team follow FDA updates and research closely to ensure training and supplemental educational materials are available to help growers understand draft guidance and new research that could impact future regulatory changes.

Dr. Govindaraj Dev Kumar, University of Georgia 

Dr. Kumar is an assistant professor for the Center for Food Safety. His research on the environmental survival of foodborne pathogens in soil, irrigation water and biological soil amendments of animal origin (BSAAOs). During his academic tenure, Dr. Kumar has established protocols to trace foodborne pathogens in the environment and on produce surfaces. He has also developed organic-friendly mitigation strategies such as the use of SODIS (Solar Disinfection), essential oil and fatty acid-based sanitizers and post-harvest monitoring of cooling using thermal imaging. The goal of his research is to develop practices and intervention methods that are affordable and effective in reducing contamination by foodborne pathogens while adhering to the principles of organic agriculture.

Dr. Abhinav Mishra, University of Georgia 

Dr. Mishra develops risk models as a vital tool for risk assessment, which helps growers not only determine but also predict food safety risks. He is enthusiastic about collaborating on this planning grant project because a long-term study involving different geographical locations could provide the data needed to build robust models that can predict microbial survival, die-off rates, and bacterial transfer to produce surfaces. This type of predictive modeling that Dr. Mishra has the capabilities to create would help organic produce growers maximize the benefits of sunlight, temperature, wind speed and other abiotic factors to lower microbial contamination risks and reduce dependence on sanitizers and chemical disinfectants.

Ashley Adair, Purdue University

Ashley is an organic agriculture extension specialist in the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture. She coordinates the Purdue Extension Organic Agriculture Program which addresses the diverse educational and technical resource needs of certified organic and transitioning to organic farmers in Indiana. Adair will meet with organic farmers and extension educators to discuss organic challenges and successes, share resources and discuss how new practices may lead to a better farm ecological unit. She works closely with researchers to develop organic research across the state, for everything from grain to vegetables, to help fill current knowledge gaps and is prepared to help the project team connect with grower groups in Indiana that face food safety and NOP incongruities in their business decisions.

Dr. Alda Pires (PD), University of California Davis

Dr. Pires is an associate specialist in Cooperative Extension (UCCE) and epidemiologist at the Agricultural Experiment Station (AES) for Urban Agriculture and Food Safety in the Department of Population Health and Reproduction (VM-PHR) at UC Davis. Dr. Pires has extensive experience in livestock production systems, veterinary epidemiology, food safety, and implementation of risk-mitigation and preventive strategies for foodborne pathogens in alternative agricultural systems, diversified farms, and organic systems.

Mr. Jeremy Vanderzyl, Duncan Family Farms

Mr. Vanderzyl is the director of technical services at Duncan Family Farms, a multi-region premier grower of organic vegetables, Mr. Vanderzyl oversees the food safety, compost production, IPM and agronomic functions of the company. His microbiology background has helped foster organic system enhancements while also adjusting to the rapidly changing food safety standards. Mr. Vanderzyl currently sits on the Arizona Leafy Greens Technical Subcommittee and participates in various industry working groups related to food safety and has collaborated with the University of Arizona for the last decade on various projects. He will contribute his lab, field, and policy experience to the development of the survey and full OREI research proposal. Additionally, many of Vanderzyl’s UA collaborators have committed to play an advisory role in this project (Appendix 1) offering expertise in food safety research in the context of pathogen spread and persistence through water, soil, and wildlife.

Dr. Amber Sciligo, The Organic Center

Dr. Sciligo is the director of science programs and directs projects associated with communicating and conducting research related to organic agriculture. She has extensive experience communicating scientific research to the public, farmers, policymakers and other researchers and has managed several OREI-funded conferences and planning grant projects.

Katrina Hunter, The Organic Center

Katrina Hunter is the manager of science programs at TOC. She carries out communication and logistical tasks and will manage writing and disseminating announcements, social media communications, stakeholder communication, organizing contractors, and assisting in all other administrative tasks. She will facilitate the research team in developing and submitting a full OREI proposal as the main deliverable for this project.