Meet the Scientists

Dan Donoghue, Ph.D

Dan Donoghue, Ph.D., is an associate professor in the Department of Poultry Science and the Cell and Molecular Biology Program at the University of Arkansas. Dr. Donoghue's research focuses on preharvest intervention strategies to reduce foodborne colonization of poultry (e.g. Campylobacter and Salmonella) and on developing predictive pharmacokinetic models of antibiotic and pesticide transfer in poultry. He also is interested in the potential interaction of veterinary drugs and pathogenic bacteria in the intestinal tract. His goal is to reduce the potential for drug and pesticide residues, and pathogens in poultry tissues.

Brendan A, Niemira, Ph.D.

Brendan A, Niemira, Ph.D., is the Lead Scientist of the produce safety research project at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Eastern Regional Research Center in Wyndmoor, PA. In addition to conducting an independent research program to develop tools to kill human pathogens such as E. coli and Salmonella on lettuce, tomatoes and other fresh produce, Dr. Niemira supervises and advises support scientists and technicians and sets short- and long-term research priorities. His personal research focuses on how pathogen attachment and biofilm formation on foods and food contact surfaces alters the efficacy of antimicrobial treatments, and the development of effective new nonthermal treatments and treatment combinations suitable for application to fresh and fresh-cut produce. In addition to continuing research on irradiation, his ongoing research responsibilities in this area include the development, application and validation of other nonthermal energy-transfer interventions and food processing technologies, such as cold plasma. He represents the Department to the public and to stakeholders in domestic and international interactions. Dr. Niemira has published more than 80 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, holds two patents and is a professional member of the Institute of Food Technologists, the International Association for Food Protection and the American Society for Microbiology. He serves on the editorial boards for "Journal of Food Protection" and "Applied and Environmental Microbiology".

S. D. Worley, Ph.D.

S. D. Worley, Ph.D., is a professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Auburn University. Dr. Worley’s research primarily focuses on two areas: the syntheses and testing of new N-halamine biocidal compounds, which can kill living pathogens like bacteria; and Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) studies of the interactions of small molecules with catalytic films. The N-halamine biocidal polymers Dr. Worley and his group have developed can be coated onto nearly any surface — water towers, plastic food wrap — to keep the surface bacteria-free. The polymers can also be used as biocidal water filters. Dr. Worley’s work on N-halamine biocidal polymers has resulted in the awarding of more than 30 patents and the publication of 230 research papers in peer-reviewed journals. A Seattle-based company (HaloSource®) has been established to commercialize the technology in the areas of water disinfection and surface sterilization. He is currently working on preparation and testing of biocidal polymeric coating and elastomeric materials.

Arun Bhunia, Ph.D.

Arun Bhunia, Ph.D., is a professor in the Department of Food Science and a member of the Center for Food Safety Engineering of Purdue University. His research focuses on the detection of pathogens and on studying the molecular mechanism of pathogens in the intestines. Among other research projects, Dr. Bhunia is developing different types of biosensors – such as light scattering sensors, fiber optic sensors, and even living cells – to detect food pathogens. He has received numerous awards and honors, including the Purdue Agriculture 2006 Team Award, Purdue University Faculty Scholar (2005-2010) and the 2003 Purdue Agriculture Research Award. Dr. Bhunia’s research in food science has led to the award of three patents and the publishing of 90 peer-reviewed journal articles. Additionally, he has written or edited four books on food science and related disciplines.

Raj Mutharasan, Ph.D.

Raj Mutharasan, Ph.D., is Frank A. Fletcher Professor in Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at Drexel University. His research interests include biosensors and bioreactors. His biosensors research group focuses on developing advanced biosensors and applying them to the discovery of biomolecular interactions. The biosensors he develops have practical applications: they can detect pathogens and toxins in food and can also be used in environmental, biowarfare and medical research. Biosensors he has designed for the detection of pathogens and genes have been patented and are currently being commercialized.

Jacob Petrich, Ph.D.

Jacob Petrich, Ph.D., is a professor in the Department of Chemistry at Iowa State University. His research interests include: understanding fundamental chemical processes; investigating and developing light-induced antiviral and antitumor agents; understanding ligand binding in novel hemeprotein; exploiting nonatural amino acids to study protein structure and dynamics; and developing sensitive devices for the detection of environmental contaminants (particularly for food and health applications). His research group has developed, patented, and licensed a technology based on fluorescence detection for use in the real-time identification of contaminated meat products.