College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences

Scientists at UGA search for ways to control pathogens on wheat berries

Posted on
Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Consumers have long been warned against the hazards of eating raw cookie dough. As more cases of foodborne illness are linked to contaminated wheat flour, University of Georgia food safety experts are touting the risk in a louder, more forceful voice, while searching for ways to eliminate foodborne pathogens on wheat products.

In wheat-related cases, the common carriers of the pathogens are cookie dough, cake batter and raw wheat flour. The most recent outbreak started in May and was linked to wheat flour contaminated with E. coli 026 bacteria. Three brands of contaminated all-purpose flour were found at grocery stores in eight states, to date. So far, 21 cases of E. coli 026 infections have been reported.

In 2005, 26 cases in the U.S. were linked to cake-batter ice cream and in 2008 a cluster of cases in New Zealand were connected to an uncooked baking mixture. In all of these cases, the pathogen was Salmonella. In 2009, an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak resulted from consumption of raw cookie dough.

“In the past, the reason we warned people not to eat cookie dough was not because of the flour, but because of the raw eggs,” said Francisco Diez, director of the UGA Center for Food Safety located on the university’s campus in Griffin, Georgia. “The two main pathogens linked to wheat products are Salmonella and E. coli.”

Diez says these cases could have been prevented if the flour had not been consumed raw.

Beuchat, Diez honored by International Association for Food Protection

Posted on
Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Two University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences food scientists have been presented awards of excellence from the International Association for Food Protection (IAFP). Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus Larry Beuchat and Professor Francisco Diez were recognized at the association’s annual meeting held July 21–24 in Louisville, Kentucky.

Beuchat received the Maurice Weber Laboratorian Award in recognition of his outstanding contributions in the laboratory. The award also honors his commitment to the development of innovative and practical analytical approaches in support of food safety.

He joined the Department of Food Science and Technology on the UGA Griffin campus in 1972 and has since published five books and 530 refereed scientific journal articles.

Beuchat is a world authority on the microbiology of fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes; methods for detecting yeasts, molds and pathogenic bacteria in foods; metabolic injury of bacteria and fungi; relationships of water activity to microbial growth; antimicrobial compounds in foods; fermented foods; thermal resistance of mold ascospores; and food preservatives.

Most of Beuchat’s research at the UGA Center for Food Safety in Griffin focuses on how food safety issues relate to foods of plant origin.

UGA CAES trains young scientists through 2019 Young Scholars summer research program

Posted on
Monday, July 22, 2019

This year, 60 students from across the state and two from outside of Georgia joined the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) Young Scholars research program and broke new ground in the agricultural sciences.

For more than two decades, the CAES Young Scholars Program has paired the college’s researchers with high school students to foster students’ love of science and introduce them to the breadth of study that forms the foundation of agriculture, Georgia’s largest industry.

During the Young Scholars Program, students are paid to work as research assistants in laboratories across the college to complete real research projects alongside faculty mentors.

Cooperative Extension Faculty named PSO Fellow

Posted on
Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Svoboda “Bodie” Vladimirova Pennisi, a full professor and UGA Cooperative Extension Specialist at the UGA Griffin campus, will work with the Small Business Development Center to implement online learning opportunities. Pennisi’s online business training module will be designed to help entrepreneurs and managers run a successful landscape management business by covering critical topics such as financials, marketing, cost estimating, employee retention and customer service, all catered to the landscape management field. In the future, the module will be used across UGA Extension and adopted for a new online class for undergraduate students. An experienced online educator, Pennisi will apply her horticulture and landscape expertise to help small businesses across Georgia.

McCullough recalls decades of food science work upon retirement from UGA-Griffin

Posted on
Friday, April 12, 2019

In December of 1976, Sue Ellen McCullough took a job at the University of Georgia Griffin campus — then known as the Georgia Experiment Station — on the advice of a neighbor. On March 29 she retired from UGA-Griffin, taking with her a trove of memories and experiences.

“Dr. Wayne Bough was a faculty member and he was also my neighbor,” said McCullough, a native of Griffin. “We talked about me coming to work for him and he told me to ask my husband if I could work with him for about four months.”

The “temp” job turned into a nearly 40-year career with UGA’s Department of Food Science and Technology.

McCullough had worked at the local hospital and for Southern Bell, but she had no idea what to expect working in a laboratory at UGA. Bough was working on a grant project funded by UGA Marine Extension and the Georgia Sea Grant program, so McCullough’s first experiences were a little fishy.

“I was working with shrimp shells,” she remembers. “I had to dry them up in the shop in a big huge oven. When the men who worked in the shop saw me coming, they weren’t happy, because it did not smell good at all.”

When Bough left Griffin to accept a position with UGA Marine Extension in Brunswick, Georgia, McCullough went to work with UGA food scientist Kell Heaton. For the next six years, she helped him on various projects like canning peaches and peppers and working with other commodities, like pecans.

UGA-Griffin names 2019 Classified Employees of the Year

Posted on
Thursday, April 11, 2019

Anthony Flint, Julie Peters and Gary Ware were honored as the University of Georgia Griffin campus 2019 Classified Employees of the Year during the annual Classified Employee Recognition Ceremony held March 26.

“This is one of my favorite events each year. We come together to celebrate some of those who are the most important in making the Griffin campus what it is. I am proud of all the nominees and honorees this year and can say without hesitation that we have many more across campus who we also consider employees of the year,” said Lew Hunnicutt, assistant provost and director at UGA-Griffin.

UGA-bred Blueberry Plants Now Grow across the Globe

Posted on
Wednesday, January 9, 2019

A tried and true Georgia “boy,” University of Georgia blueberry breeder Scott NeSmith takes pride in creating new blueberry varieties for farmers in Georgia and across the Southeast. Now he can boast that blueberry varieties he’s bred through the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences have gone global.

Two southern highbush blueberry varieties bred by NeSmith in research plots on the UGA Griffin campus are grown in territories in Europe and several countries in Africa, including Namibia and Zimbabwe, he said.

These UGA-bred blueberry plants grow well in the Southeastern United States and will now be grown by African farmers “primarily for export to Europe and some parts of Asia,” said NeSmith, who was named UGA Inventor of the Year in 2013.

UGA-Griffin student returns to college after 30-year break

Posted on
Thursday, January 3, 2019

At 54, Becky Griffin was the oldest University of Georgia student on the Griffin campus to be awarded a degree this fall, but that fact only fueled her drive to succeed.

After putting her graduate studies on hold for 30 years, Griffin juggled a full-time job and put thousands of miles on her car to complete her master’s degree. The mother of two adult daughters, both of whom are UGA graduates, Griffin was encouraged to finish her degree by Kris Braman, a former UGA Griffin researcher who now heads the UGA Department of Entomology.

“Deciding to go back to school after 30 years was a huge decision. When I told Dr. Kris Braman why I didn’t have a master’s degree, she said, ‘Well, we need to fix that.’ She encouraged me to apply, helped me map out a plan and served as my major professor throughout this process. She was the first person on my team,” Griffin said.

Three UGA Griffin faculty receive prestigious D.W. Brooks Awards

Posted on
Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Three University of Georgia Griffin campus scientists have been awarded D.W. Brooks Awards for Excellence for their extraordinary commitment to the mission of the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

CAES began selecting D.W. Brooks Awards recipients more than 30 years ago in honor of Brooks, who devoted his career to improving life through contributions to agriculture. The founder of Gold Kist Inc., Brooks was an alumnus and faculty member of the college.

Double Dawgs program at UGA-Griffin helps students earn bachelor’s, master’s degrees in less time

Posted on
Wednesday, October 31, 2018

The University of Georgia’s Double Dawgs program is now being offered on the UGA campus in Griffin. The program allows students to simultaneously work towards a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree and complete both degrees in five years or less. The College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) is the first to bring the Double Dawgs program to Griffin, Georgia.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 18 percent of all jobs will require a master’s degree by 2022. The Double Dawgs program is designed to help students reach that goal sooner.

“Double Dawgs programs give students the opportunity to earn a valuable second degree in about the same amount of time it would take to earn a bachelor’s degree, in most cases,” said Melissa Gordon, assistant director of academic affairs. “Basically, you start working on your master’s degree while you are finishing your bachelor’s degree. It’s amazing that you can get two UGA degrees in such a short length of time.”

More than 100 Double Dawgs programs are now available to UGA students at the university’s main campus in Athens, Georgia.

Students at the Griffin campus who are working toward a bachelor’s degree in environmental resource science from CAES can enter the Double Dawgs program to earn a master’s degree in plant protection and pest management.