Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station Names Kristen Gibson Director of Center for Food Safety

Kristen Gibson, professor of food safety and microbiology in the Department of Food Science, has been appointed director of the Center for Food Safety. (U of A System Division of Agriculture photo by Fred Miller)
Fred Miller

Kristen Gibson, professor of food safety and microbiology in the Department of Food Science, has been appointed director of the Center for Food Safety. (U of A System Division of Agriculture photo by Fred Miller)

The Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station has appointed Kristen Gibson, professor of food safety and microbiology, director of the Center for Food Safety.

"The Center for Food Safety coordinates food safety research that is relevant to the state of Arkansas across the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. It is committed to disseminating research findings to Arkansas families and food industries," said Jean-François Meullenet, senior associate vice president for agriculture-research and director of the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station, the research arm of the Division of Agriculture.

"Dr. Gibson's body of work over more than a decade at the experiment station has earned her a reputation as one of the nation's foremost experts in microbiology and food safety," Meullenet said. "Her expertise is widely sought, and she is a proven research leader with a successful track record of acquiring research grants to further this essential work."

Gibson joined the Agricultural Experiment Station in 2010 as a postdoctoral research associate. She was promoted to assistant professor in 2012, to associate professor in 2017 and to professor in 2022. She also has a teaching appointment in the U of A's Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences.

Her research focuses on the fate and transport of pathogens within food systems, including food handling and processing. She specializes in investigating human noroviruses and food safety related to fresh produce and retail outlets. She is also the lead investigator in a USDA-funded, multi-institutional project to study how safe it is to eat out during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I can think of no one better qualified to lead this important center to benefit all Arkansans," Meullenet said.

"I'm excited to see what we can do going forward," Gibson said. "We have new scientists working alongside veteran researchers to focus on critical food safety issues. I think it's exciting to be part of that."

"I've been here long enough to see the center's successes and understand our challenges," Gibson said. "Food safety is a constantly evolving issue in agriculture and food industries. As soon as you solve one problem, another crops up. Food safety is never not going to be a challenge."

The center's scientists include experts in produce safety, virology, low-moisture food safety, novel processing technologies, mycotoxins in grains, and meat and poultry safety. "We can leverage that collective expertise to respond rapidly to the food safety challenges that arise," Gibson said.

The Center for Food Safety's mission includes public education and awareness of food and consumer safety through workshops and training, and collaborating with the Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service to disseminate information, Gibson said.

"People need to have a place they know and trust to find answers to their questions about food safety," Gibson said.

To learn more about Division of Agriculture research, visit the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station website: aaes.uada.edu. Follow us on Twitter at @ArkAgResearch. To learn about Extension Programs in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit uaex.uada.edu. Follow us on Twitter at @AR_Extension.

To learn more about the Division of Agriculture, visit uada.edu. Follow us on Twitter at @AgInArk.

About the Division of Agriculture: The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture's mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation's historic land grant education system. The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses. The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.

Contacts

Fred L. Miller, project/program specialist
Agricultural Communication Services
479-575-4732, fmiller@uark.edu

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