Principle Investigator

Joy Waite-Cusic, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Food Safety Systems

Joy was born and raised on the Oregon Coast in Florence.  She graduated from OSU with a B.S. in Food Science in 2002 and M.S. in Microbiology in 2004.  She earned her Ph.D. in Food Science with a specialization in food microbiology from The Ohio State University in 2007. Since 2012, Joy has been back at OSU working on food safety, quality, and spoilage microbiology to support public health and the food industry.  Joy supports a strong research team in her own lab as well as facilitating the OSU-BUILD Dairy Program. She is also actively involved in extension efforts as part of Oregon’s Farm Food Safety Team, a member of the Western Regional Center to Enhance Food Safety, and serves as the Statewide Specialist for the Master Food Preserver Program.  

Graduate Students

Jared Johnson, PhD student  (co-advised by Chris Curtin)

Jared is a Food Science Ph.D. student working on characterizing the cheese facility microbiome. He started working with Joy and Chris Curtin immediately following his master’s degree, which explored the role of ‘wild yeast’ during the early stages of winemaking. His interests are primarily in the microbiology of fermented foods and beverages. Jared also earned his bachelor’s degree from OSU studying food science with a focus on fermentation. When he’s not in the lab, he spends most of his time exploring the Oregon outdoors with his family. Some of Jared’s favorite pastimes are fishing, rockhounding, and cooking. He also enjoys writing and playing music, and spent several years as a touring musician before starting his college education.


Brandon Selover, MS student

Brandon arrived in Joy’s lab in an unconventional path. He lived in Seattle most of his life, and throughout his 20’s and early 30’s he had a variety of jobs (including none;) and eventually decided to go to college. He got an AS degree from Seattle Central College and a BS in molecular and cellular biology from Western Washington University. He focused on microbiology toward the end of his undergrad and got a job after graduation working for a food science company where he did microbiology related process validations for food industry clients.

Brandon joined Joy’s lab as part of the MS program through the Western Dairy BUILD program in fall 2018. His graduate work is finding solutions for reducing biofilms in dairy processing and cheddar cheese production. This research is partnered with a large cheese producer in Oregon, which gives the research more relevance because he gets to work on solutions to problems happening in real-time.

In his free time Brandon likes outdoorsy stuff, gardening, and obsessively following European football (soccer). He and his wife have 2 dogs and grown kids who live in Seattle.


Immanuel Rodriguez, MS student

Immanuel was born and raised in Riverside, California. He received a BS in Microbiology from Weber State University, in Ogden, Utah. He is pursing an MS in Food Science and Technology at OSU. Immanuel has a wonderful wife and 4 children. He loves to mountain bike, hike, and cook.


Casey Rush, MS student (co-advised by Lisbeth Goddik)

Casey grew up in Silverton, OR and worked in the medical industry before finding her passion in science and food. She attended Oregon State University for her BS in Food Science and Technology where she discovered the fascinating world of dairy science after participating in a buttermilk beverage formulation contest. As an undergraduate, she worked on various projects such as creating a mozzarella cheese formula, developing yogurt protocols, and assisting a local start-up company with upscaling their labneh cheese recipe. Casey began her MS in Food Science working in Joy’s lab where microbiology has found a special place in her heart. Her research focuses on the impact reworked dairy milk and powders have on product quality and shelf life with a particular interest in spore forming bacteria. 

In her free time, Casey loves to ride her horse Junebug, bake delicious treats, and volunteer as a high school equestrian drill team coach. 


Carson Davis, MS student

Carson is from Ogden, Utah where he has lived most of his life until attending graduate school.  He finished his undergrad at Weber State University in microbiology. He has an agricultural background as well, growing up on a family farm and beef ranch. In his free time he likes to go to semi truck shows, mountain bike, hike, and go on drives just for the views. Carson has a passion for growing things, he still has a patch of blackberries and raspberries that his family is tending to in his absence. Currently he is working on a masters in Food science, evaluating organic and conventional dairy products.


Rebecca Bland, MS student (co-advised by Jovana Kovacevic)

Rebecca is a Food Science Masters student studying Listeria spp. in food processing environments with interest specifically in produce safety. Following her first year at the Corvallis campus of OSU, Rebecca will continue her research at the Food Innovation Center in Portland under Dr. Jovana Kovacevic.

Originally from San Diego, CA Rebecca received her bachelor’s degree in Food Science from Cal Poly in 2019.

Undergraduate Students

Nicole Berg, BS student, Food Science and Technology

Nicole is a Food Science and Technology undergraduate, getting a minor in Chemistry. She grew up in Salem, Oregon before moving to Sublimity, Oregon her last two years of high school. Her hobbies include hiking, reading, camping, and watching movies. She’s worked at this lab since June 2018. She became interested in food safety after taking a food safety and sanitation class at OSU. That class taught her how important food safety is and how essential that area of food science is to the industry and the public. 

Calvin Tharp-Jackson, BS student, Biological Sciences


Lab Manager

Sam Burroughs

Sam was born and raised in Lebanon, Oregon and received her bachelor’s degree in Food Science and Technology from Oregon State. She worked on a plant research farm for 6 years throughout high school and most of college. She started working in Joy’s lab in September 2018 at the beginning of her senior year and decided to keep working there after graduation. Sam has mostly been working on process validations for food companies and has really enjoyed learning about food safety. Her hobbies include watching football, hiking and traveling.

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