Principal Investigator

Jovana Kovacevic, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Food Safety Extension Specialist

Jovana grew up in Alberta, Canada.  She graduated from the University of Alberta with a B.S. in Food Science (2005) and M.S. in Food Science-Food Microbiology (2007).  She earned her Ph.D. in Food Science with a specialization in food microbiology from the University of British Columbia (2014) and joined OSU’s Food Innovation Center (FIC) in 2016. At the FIC, Jovana directs the Food Safety Program, focusing on Listeria research, and FSMA-related food safety training, education and outreach activities.

Prior to joining OSU, Jovana worked as a lecturer at the University of British Columbia (Canada), a food safety consultant with the B.C. Ministry of Health, and a Food Safety Scientist at the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control. 

She is actively involved in extension efforts, leading OSU’s Farm Food Safety Team, conducting Listeria and FSMA-related trainings across the Pacific Northwest, and directing the Western Regional Center to Enhance Food Safety.


Stephanie Brown, MS, Food Safety Specialist and Lab Manager

Stephanie was born and raised in Douglas, Georgia. She earned her B.S. and M.S. degrees in Food Science from the University of Georgia in 2013 and 2015, respectively. Before coming to Oregon State University, she pursued her doctoral degree in Animal Science with a specialization in Food Microbiology and Safety from the University of Connecticut. She is super close to defending it and publishing her works on antimicrobial strategies to control Listeria monocytogenes in high moisture cheeses and the impact of these strategies on virulence! During her time at the University of Connecticut, Stephanie also graduated with a M.S. degree in Animal Science in 2018. 

With more than eight years of food microbiology laboratory experience, Stephanie has worked on a diverse array of basic and applied research projects. Some of these projects have included determining viable antimicrobial and clean label strategies to reduce Listeria growth in Queso Fresco, evaluating sanitizer efficacy against Listeria and Salmonella on fresh produce, and determining the impact of sugar on Salmonella survival in low water activity foods. 

At the Food Innovation Center, Stephanie enjoys assisting with various projects in the Kovacevic Lab and serving as the coordinator for the Western Regional Center to Enhance Food Safety.

Current Graduate Students

Stephanie Alvarado (Ph.D. expected 2025)

Stephanie is originally from Dayton, Ohio. She received her BS in biology from Ohio State University and after graduation, spent a year in AmeriCorps as an English tutor to the immigrant and refugee populations of Dayton. She then moved to Los Angeles where she earned a MA and a teaching credential in Secondary Science Education from California State University, Los Angeles. She taught public high school chemistry and biology in downtown Los Angeles for four years before returning to school at California State University, Northridge for a Master’s in Public Health. Stephanie is currently a Food Science Ph.D. student particularly interested in extension work and education. Outside of her studies, Stephanie is interested in coffee, traveling, cooking, sewing clothes and quilts, fiber art, reading, and spending time with her family.

Andrea Domen (M.S. expected 2023)

Originally a Texas native, Andrea was raised in Portland, Oregon. She moved to Corvallis to earn her BS in Chemistry, with a Biology minor, from Oregon State. From there, she earned a phlebotomist certification and worked at both hospitals and clinics for 4 years. Andrea is working towards her MS in Food Science. She enjoys baking, being online, and searching for snakes, lizards, and the occasional kangaroo rat.

Taylor Johnson (M.S. expected 2023)

Taylor grew up in Tacoma, WA and transferred to OSU in 2019. She has since earned her B.S. in Food Science and Technology and is now pursuing a Masters in the same area. Taylor became interested in dairy science after working in the Arbuthnot Dairy Center making cheese as her job during her undergrad. She considers herself a lifelong learner, and in her free time, you can find her gardening, cooking, baking, reading, or spending time with her family.

Erik Ohman (M.S. expected 2023)

Erik is originally from Plymouth, WI and graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a B.S. in Microbiology as well as certificates in Business Management and Food Systems. He got his first introduction to the world of food by raising beef cattle on his family’s hobby farm, hunting for deer and pheasant, and fishing in lakes across the Midwest. Besides hunting and fishing, Erik also enjoys hiking, biking, kayaking and cooking in his free time.

Erik is working on his Master’s in Food Science, during which he will focus on produce safety. His thesis will be centered on addressing current cleaning and sanitizing processes in produce environments in relation to the Produce Safety Rule. Following his first three terms in Corvallis, Erik will be joining us in Portland at the Food Innovation Center to continue his research.

Former Students

Rebecca Bland, M.S. (2019-2021)

Rebecca is originally from San Diego, CA. She received her BS in Food Science from California Polytechnic State University in 2019 after which she moved up to Oregon to begin her graduate studies at Oregon State University. She recently completed her MS degree in Food Science in the Kovacevic Lab (Summer 2021). During this time she studied the genetic diversity and antimicrobial resistance of Listeria monocytogenes within produce handling environments.

Rebecca is currently working as an FSQA Supervisor at Dole Fresh Vegetables Co., in Yuma, AZ.

Cara Boucher, M.S. (2017-2019)

Cara completed her B.S. in Food Science at OSU in June 2017. Following graduation, she started an internship at OSU’s Food Innovation Center (FIC) in Portland, OR, where she worked on a project investigating the effect of temperature on the susceptibility of Listeria monocytogenes to benzalkonium chloride under Dr. Kovacevic’s guidance. She expanded this work into her M.S. thesis project. She spent the first year of her studies in Corvallis, attending classes and working on various food microbiology projects in Dr. Joy Waite-Cusic’s lab before transferring back to the FIC for the second year of her program. She completed her M.S. degree in 2019.

Cara is currently working as a Quality Assurance Specialist at Laird Superfood in Sisters, OR.

John Jorgensen, M.S. (2017-2019)

John grow up on a farm in rural eastern Washington, in the community focused on production of beef and wheat. Following his B.S. degree he spent a few years working for government agencies and in the food industry, where he became interested in food safety in the produce industry, specifically focusing on the contamination of the foodborne pathogen Listeria monocytogenes. This made him a perfect fit for Dr. Jovana Kovacevic’s lab. Co-advised by Dr. Joy Waite-Cusic, he completed his M.S. degree in Food Science in 2019.

John is currently working as a Consumer Safety Inspector for the USDA FSIS.

Jingyi (Jenny) Du, M.S. (2016-2018)

Jenny got her B.S. degree in agriculture from China Agricultural University. She completed her M.S. degree in Food Science & Technology at OSU’s Seafood Lab in Astoria, under the guidance of Dr. Yi-Cheng Su, Dr. Christina DeWitt and Dr. Jovana Kovacevic.

Jenny is currently an R&D Specialist at Pacific Seafood.

Apprenticeships in Science & Engineering (ASE) Student Interns

  • Puja Pradhan, Basis Ahwatukee High School, AZ (Summer 2021)
  • Jayni Ram, Henry M. Gunn High School, CA (Summer 2021)
  • Colton Ramsey, Olympia High School, OR (Summer 2021)
  • Laura Qin, Westview High School, OR (Summer 2020)
  • Clara Szalay, Orange County School of the Arts, Irvine, CA (Summer 2019)
  • Caroline Cook, Catlin Gabel School, Portland, OR (Summer 2019)
  • Martin Nguyen, Madison High School, Portland, OR (Summer 2018)
  • Selora (Jj) Stull, Health & Science School, Beaverton, OR (Summer 2018)

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