Meet Colorado State University’s 2017-18 Food Safety Fellows.
Tyler Mason is a Ph.D. student conducting research on sustainable and organic vegetable production with the Specialty Crops Program in the Department of Horticulture & Landscape Architecture. The core of his field research work involves serving as a test site for the Northern Organic Vegetable Improvement Collaborative (NOVIC) to identify open-pollinated vegetable varieties that thrive in organic management systems. Plant breeders will utilize the information collected from this vegetable trial, along with trials at northern climate universities to further develop organic breeding lines. Tyler is most passionate about improving the sustainability and human health aspects of the agricultural food production and distribution system. Before starting on his doctoral degree, he earned his Masters of Agriculture (Extension Education) Degree through CSU’s online distance education program. During this time, he also served as the horticulturist for the Cheyenne Botanic Gardens in Wyoming, where he led family-friendly gardening classes and oversaw the care of nine acres of themed perennial gardens.
Deborah Ray is beginning her master’s program in the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture in the fall of 2017. She will be focusing on evaluating drought-tolerant vegetable cultivars, including native desert species which may serve as alternative vegetable crops in low-input farming systems. Growing up in the Southwest gave her first-hand experience with the special challenges farmers face in semi-arid climates and inspired her to research alternative crops and management strategies to ultimately help create more sustainable systems. During her bachelor’s program at New Mexico State University, she participated in field work with local and Organic farms, engaged in horticultural outreach with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, and worked as a research assistant in the Randall Lab working on pecan nutrition and micropropagation. As a Produce Safety Fellow, Deb hopes to develop a greater understanding of the food safety challenges faced by specialty crop producers, particularly in small-scale and Certified Organic operations. In doing this Deb hopes to improve the sustainability, safety, and efficiency of horticultural production in our changing landscape.
Heather Marshall is currently in pursuing a Master’s in Public Health with a concentration in Global Health and Health Disparities. For the last three years, she has worked in the food safety industry as a microbiology lab technician, screening for pathogens and monitoring food production sanitation. Her interests are in the use of sentinel surveillance and epidemiology to help prevent and contain foodborne disease outbreaks. During her undergraduate degree at Northern Michigan University, she spent time abroad in India and China where she saw firsthand the dire need to improve sanitation and access to safe food and water. Around the world, diarrhea kills 2,195 children every day, more than AIDS, Malaria, and Measles combined. Heather hopes to use the skills learned at CSU and through her fellowship to help end these preventable deaths.