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

Stepanie Alvarado, PhD student (co-advised by Jovana Kovacevic)

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.

Brandon Riesgaard, MS student 

Brandon grew up in Nebraska before moving to Oregon to earn a Culinary Arts degree from OCCI in Coos Bay. After a 15-year career as a professional chef he returned to college to pursue a degree in Food Science at Oregon State University.  During his undergraduate he worked in the OSU creamery where he helped to standardize a new Gouda cheese recipe. He is now working to earn a MS in Food Science focusing on pathogens in cheese.  

Brandon is an outdoors enthusiast, avid gardener, live music snob, mushroom forager, and occasional surfer.


Alejandro Torres Beauchamp, MS student 

Alejandro is from the island of Puerto Rico; he has lived all his life in the capital of San Juan and recently finished his BS in Microbiology at the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico. Alejandro is now pursuing a MS in Food Science and technology at OSU. In the future, Alejandro wants to work in a Food Safety oriented environment where he can combine his passion for Microbiology with his knowledge about Food to solve future problems that may arise from the industry itself. In his free time, he is mostly listening to music (he is an audiophile) and doing road trips around Puerto Rico. Now that he is in Oregon, he wants to explore the beautiful outdoors that surround Corvallis.


Andrea Domen, MS student 

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.


Erik Ohman, MS student (co-advised by Jovana Kovacevic)

Erik is from Plymouth, WI where he grew up on a small hobby farm. There, he got his first introduction to food production by raising beef cattle, hunting for deer and pheasant, and fishing at nearby lakes. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a B.S. in Microbiology and certificates in both Business Management and Food Systems. Erik enjoys spending his free time in the outdoors hunting, fishing, hiking, biking or kayaking. Currently, he is working on his Masters in Food Science, during which he will focus on pre-harvest food safety. Following his first year at the Corvallis campus, Erik will continue his research at the Food Innovation Center in Portland with Dr. Jovana Kovacevic.


Taylor Johnson, MS student 

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.


Jason Racine, MS student 

Jason was born and raised in Southern California. He graduated from high school in 2007, and graduated from Pepperdine University with a BA in Music Education in 2012. He moved to Oregon in 2015 to pursue a career in the brewing industry. In 2017, he decided to go back to school for a BS in Food Science and Technology. This lead to a new found interest in chemistry and microbiology. For the past decade he has been adamantly gardening at home. Through these combined interests he has tailored his bachelors degree to include horticulture and entrepreneurship. He is currently working on a MS in Food Science, doing research on the growth of E. coli in onions. His research allows him to work in the lab, greenhouse, and in the fields. His free time is spent furthering his work in horticulture and food.


Alexandra ‘Sasha’ Nerney, MS student 

Sasha Nerney was born and raised in Middlebury, Connecticut. She attended Purdue University where she was exposed to the fields of food and agricultural sciences, graduating with a BS in Food Science and minor in Fermentation. Here, through extracurriculars like brewing and in a lab focused on human factors on food safety, she developed a passion for microbiology. She has goals to provide a more safe and sustainable food system, working on her MS in Food Science at Oregon State. In her free time, Sasha likes to read (especially in a hammock), see live music, and is looking forward to exploring the beautiful landscape in Oregon!

Undergraduate Students

Jenna Porter

Jenna grew up in Prineville, Oregon and began attending OSU in 2020 with plans to earn her B.S. in Microbiology. She joined Joy’s lab in 2022 as an undergraduate research assistant. Her plans for the future include pursuing a career in food microbiology. In her free time, she enjoys baking, hiking, photography, and spending time with her pets.


Hayden Metzger

Hayden is from Salem, OR. He grew up in the agriculture community on a small hobby grass seed and marionberry farm. He began attending OSU in 2020 and is planning to earn his B.S. in Food Science and Technology and minor in Agriculture and Food Business Management. He joined Joy’s lab in 2022 as an undergraduate research assistant. Hayden was especially interested in working in the food industry after his trip to Haiti in 2021. He is motivated to pursue a career of helping others using sustainable food systems.


Robert Solis Moriarty

Robert is a student at Oregon State pursuing a Bachelors in Microbiology. Rob is interested in microbial ecology, and is currently working on tracking microbial growth in unpasteurized cheeses. Rob enjoys Southeast Asian food, hiking, craft beer, and collecting vinyl.


Sindhura Karuturi

Sindhura grew up in Rajahmundry, India, and began attending OSU in 2021. She is planning to earn her degree in Food Science and Technology. She joined Joy’s lab in 2022 as an undergraduate research assistant. She is interested in product development and hopes to pursue a career in that field one day.

In her free time, she enjoys cooking and exploring new restaurants in town.


Faculty Research Associate

Hussein Mohamed, Ph.D.

Hussein is from Egypt. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Veterinary Medical Science and a master’s in Food Science from Cairo University. He earned his Ph.D. degree in Food Science from Cairo University in 2005. During his Ph.D. program he served as a visiting scholar for two years at the department of Food Science and Technology at the Ohio State University.  He spent three years as a postdoctoral research associate at the department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering at the Ohio State University.  Hussein’s research focuses are in the fields of food microbiology, food safety, meat science, meat processing and preservation technologies. He worked as an assistant professor at the department of food hygiene and control (meat hygiene and control division) at Cairo University from 2012 to 2018. He has experience in GMP, HACCP and food safety management systems. Currently, he is joining Joy’s lab as a Post Doc Fellow in food microbiology. He loves hiking, travelling, barbecuing and enjoys being in nature.


Faculty Research Assistant

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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