Staff Spotlight

march 2022


Joy Waite-Cusic


Job Title: Associate Professor in Food Safety Systems

Place of Employment: Oregon State University

Fun Fact: Joy LOVES to play card games!

Joy Waite-Cusic is an Associate Professor in Food Safety Systems at Oregon State University, where she leads the Food Safety Squad (Food Safety Systems Lab group). Joy’s research and extension efforts truly span from farm to fork, with projects evaluating agricultural water and preharvest practices to process validation and microbiological quality indicators and spoilage. Extensive work has also been done within her lab to understand microbial quality and safety of dairy products. Her most recent project, in collaboration with investigators at Washington State University and UC Davis, will work to understand how preharvest production practices effect the safety of dry bulb onions.

If you are interested in learning more about Joy’s projects and research, check out her website-



February 2022


Eduardo Gutierrez-Rodriguez


Job Title: Assistant Professor in Produce Safety Systems

Place of Employment: Colorado State University

Fun Fact: Eduardo enjoys Kitesurfing!

Eduardo is an Assistant Professor at Colorado State University where he runs the Fresh Produce Safety Lab. In addition to extension and education activities, including hosting PSA grower trainings and workshops, his lab is involved in a number of research projects. His research interests include microbial ecology of human pathogens in organic and conventional agriculture environments, risk analysis in carrots and onions, irrigation water management and antimicrobial resistance of pathogens in farming systems. When not leading a training, working in the lab, or meeting with stakeholders, Eduardo enjoys kitesurfing! 

Girish Ganjyal


Job Title: Associate Professor and Extension Food Processing Specialist

Place of Employment: Washington State University

Favorite Food Safety Related Research Project: Food safety interventions for fresh produce packing process

Fun Fact: Loves country music

Girish Ganjyal is an Associate Professor at Washington State University with expertise in food processing safety, specifically thermal and extrusion processing. In his current role, he helps the industry comply with FSMA and other food safety regulations by providing trainings, as well as assisting with food safety plans, audits, and process validations. Girish enjoys working with other people so, helping the industry in this capacity is a favorite aspect of his position! For those currently or looking to work in the food industry, Girish hopes we will remember to have fun with food safety and don’t look at it as a burden.

Want to connect with Girish? You can find him on LinkedIn or his WSU contact page !



Girish Ganjyal

Source: CAHNRS Communications Team, Washington State University

January 2022


Stephanie Brown

WRCEFS Coordinator and Co-PI

Job Title: Food Safety Specialist

Place of Employment: Oregon State University, Food Innovation Center

Fun Fact: Stephanie was born on a holiday!

Stephanie works behind the scenes to keep WRCEFS running and is the face behind the emails and social media posts! As the coordinator, she facilitates connections amongst the PIs, partners, members and stakeholders. She also works to keep our community informed and equipped with resources related to FSMA and FSMA-training opportunities. While food safety extension is a large part of her job, Stephanie loves the research aspect as well. Currently, her favorite project is the work she is doing using whole genome sequencing (WGS) to characterize Listeria monocytogenes from dairy environments. When reflecting on this work, Stephanie mentioned that learning sequencing techniques and how WGS can be used by industry to understand contamination within their own facilities has been very exciting! Looking to the future, Stephanie is excited to be working on new and existing food safety research and outreach projects to best support regional and WRCEFS stakeholders.  



Stephanie Brown and Hazel

Source: W. Brown, 2020


December 2021


Xu Yang


Job Title: Assistant Professor of Nutrition and Food Science

Place of Employment: California Polytechnic State University Pomona

Favorite Food Safety Related Research Project: Xu is really looking forward to his upcoming project where urban agriculture and food safety will be combined!

Fun Fact: Not just one, not just two, but Xu can play five different musical instruments!

Xu Yang is an Assistant Professor at Cal Poly Pomona, who is passionate about food safety education including teaching HACCP courses and helping local farms comply with produce safety regulations. His passion for education is exemplified in his hope that we [food safety professionals] will work to spread the best practices for food safety to those underrepresented and minority growers as well as those working across the food industry. He also hopes we can bring this knowledge to those in developing countries to help minimize the risk of foodborne illness. As a relatively new faculty member, Xu’s research background and expertise is focused on antimicrobials. Looking forward, he is most excited about an upcoming project that will combine both urban agriculture and food safety.

Cal Poly Pomona is a Hispanic serving institution, and Xu would love to collaborate with you so that together, we can better serve our students in the field of food safety! To learn more about Xu and his research at Cal Poly Pomona please visit his website:



Xu Yang

Source: Deanna Stewart, Cal Poly Pomona

April 2021


Tom Dean

WRCEFS Mountain Sub-region Lead

Job Title: Southwest District Department Head/ Co-Director of the SW Border Food Protection and Emergency Preparedness Center

Place of Employment: New Mexico State University – Cooperative Extension Service

Favorite Food Safety Related Research Project: Working with a graduate student on a surface water study to identify E. coli levels in our traditional irrigation system in New Mexico.

Fun Fact: Tom enjoys playing the guitar and singing!

Tom Dean is the Southwest District Department Head and Co-Director of the SW Border Food Protection and Emergency Preparedness Center at New Mexico State University. He currently serves as the Mountain Sub-region lead for WRCEFS and is a subject matter expert in animal and range sciences, specifically food production and safety. Through the SW Border Center, Tom and his team provide PSA trainings to growers in the area. Due to COVID-19, his team has also pivoted to responding to food supply issues with Emergency Management and helping producers with essential worker plans.

Through his tenure at the SW Border Center, Tom has also worked on several agriculture emergency responses. These include the Gold King Mine Spill, which contaminated river waters, and winter storm Goliath, which shut down all roads for three days in eastern New Mexico, greatly impacted dairies in this area.

Tom’s favorite food safety project was working with a graduate student on a surface water study that identified E. coli levels in traditional irrigation systems in New Mexico. When asked about his hopes for those working in or aspiring to work in the food system, Tom wanted to remind us that, “The food supply chain is complex and food safety is essential to providing quality products to consumers. Everyone has a role to play! Even consumers.”

To learn more about Tom and his team’s work at the Southwest Border Food Protection and Emergency Preparedness Center, you can follow them on Facebook @swbfpepc.




Tom Dean

Source: Erik Winter, © 2015

December 2020


Christina DeWitt

Co-Investigator of WRCEFS

Job Title: Interim Director Coastal Oregon Marine Experiment Station

Place of Employment: Oregon State University

Favorite Food Safety Related Research Project: Inactivation of bacteria and viruses using low temperature, high pressure processing technologies

Fun Fact: Christina is an instructor for the Joint Institute of Food Safety and Applied Nutrition Aquaculture and Good Fishing Vessel Practices courses.

Christina DeWitt is the Director and Professor for the Oregon State University Seafood Research and Education Center. She is also the Interim Director for the Coastal Oregon Marine Experiment Station. In WRCEFS, Christina is one of the co-investigators on our Oregon team. As an expert in seafood quality and safety, Christina helps those working in the food system comply with food safety regulations by serving as a Seafood HACCP Trainer, offering Seafood HACCP Train-the-Trainer courses, and serving on the Seafood HACCP Alliance Steering Committee. Her favorite food safety project has been investigating the inactivation of bacteria and viruses by using low temperature, high pressure processing techniques. Christina’s hope for those working in the food system is to remember we are here to help provide safe, nutritious, healthy food for people.




Christina DeWitt

Source: C. DeWitt

September 2020


Faith Critzer

WRCEFS Northwest Sub-region Lead

Job Title: Associate Professor and Produce Safety Extension Specialist

Place of Employment: Washington State University

Favorite Food Safety Related Research Project: Environmental monitoring in packinghouses

Fun Fact: Faith just got a new fur baby! He is a French Bulldog, his name is Tater Tot, and he is saturated with cuteness!

Faith Critzer is an Associate Professor and Produce Safety Extension Specialist at Washington State University.She is currently serving as the Northwest Sub-region lead for WRCEFS. Faith’s research interests focus on fresh produce and improving strategies for managing risks tied to bacterial foodborne pathogens. As an Associate Professor and Extension Specialist, Faith helps produce growers and packers comply with the Produce Safety Rule and Preventive Controls for Human Foods Rule through outreach, education, and research activities. Her favorite food safety project has been working in environmental monitoring within packinghouses. She is passionate about this area as it can be a wonderful system for helping manage risks that may come from the packing environment. Faith has also had great industry collaborations, which helps makes her projects successful and outcomes pertinent.

Faith loves her role in extension and feels like she is right at the heart of implementing new knowledge gained from research within the produce industry! Her hope for those working in the food system is that food safety is not viewed as a box that needs to be checked, as it can be so much more when you invest in these programs.

To learn more about Faith and her work in Washington, follow her on Facebook @WSUProduceSafety and Twitter @WAProduceSafety



Faith and her PhD student Alexis Hamilton on their way to an extension program in the San Juan Islands. 

Source: F. Critzer

July 2020


Kali Feiereisel


Job Title: Senior Manager, Farmer Services

Place of Employment: Community Alliance with Family Farmers

Favorite Food Safety Project: Creating food safety episodes for CAFF's podcast - The Farmers Beet

Fun Fact: Kali runs a flower farm called Seed & Gather

CAFF is a non-profit partner with WRCEFS that connects and provides education and outreach to small growers in California. CAFF assists their grower network by providing in-person and remote food safety trainings on basic GAPs, FSMA 101, and PSA grower trainings. Other ways that CAFF supports growers is through 1-on-1 technical assistance, developing online resources, and producing a food safety podcast called the Farmers Beet!

Kali Feiereisel is a Senior Manager of Farmer Services at the Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF). She has subject matter expertise in scaling food safety needs to small farms, family farms, organic farms, direct-market farms, and socially disadvantaged farms. Kali’s hope for those currently working or aspiring to work in the food system is that local and regional food systems thrive!

To learn more about CAFF and Kali, please check out the CAFF website and follow them on Facebook and Twitter @famfarms or on Instagram @caff_famfarms.



Kali Feiereisel

Source: K. Feiereisel

May 2020


Dave Stone

Co-Investigator of WRCEFS

Job Title: Professor and Director-Food Innovation Center

Place of Employment: Oregon State University, Food Innovation Center

Favorite Food Safety Related Research Project: Mercury levels in fresh-water fish from Oregon lakes

Fun Fact: Dave raises Mason bees

Dave Stone is a Professor and Director for the Food Innovation Center at Oregon State University. He is currently working as a co-investigator for the Western Regional Center, but he has previously served as the center’s Director. As a classically trained toxicologist, he has a diverse range of subject matter expertise including pesticides and sanitation. To help stakeholders comply with FSMA and other food safety regulations, Dave is actively involved with multiple training, outreach, and engagement activities throughout the Western region and abroad. His hope for those currently working or aspiring to work in the food system is that they are well appreciated by society.



Dave Stone

Source: Oregon State University

Jovana Kovacevic

Director of WRCEFS

Job Title: Assistant Professor and Food Safety Extension Specialist

Place of Employment: Oregon State University, Food Innovation Center

Fun Fact: Jovana’s chocolate brown doodle, Buster, is an incredible negotiator; he could probably work for the United Nations.

Jovana Kovacevic is an Assistant Professor and Food Safety Extension Specialist at the Oregon State University’s Food Innovation Center (FIC) in Portland, Oregon. In her current role, Jovana directs the food safety program at the FIC focusing on Listeria research, FSMA-related food safety training, education and outreach activities, and she also directs the USDA-funded Western Regional Center to Enhance Food Safety. Her research uses molecular methods and whole genome sequencing to trace, better understand and prevent contamination events in the food chain, with particular focus on Listeria monocytogenes, and antimicrobial resistance in the food chain.

Jovana and Buster. 
Source: J. Kovacevic