The Team

Hannah Zurier

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Hannah is a second year PhD student in Julie Goddard’s lab in the Cornell Department of Food Science. She graduated from Harvard in 2017 with a bachelor’s in chemical and physical biology, where she worked with Professor Rachelle Gaudet on understanding taste and pain at a protein level.  As a graduate student majoring in food chemistry with minors in biochemistry and synthetic biology, she applies her background in protein biochemistry to enzyme engineering for green food processing and phage engineering for novel pathogen detection techniques. When not in lab, Hannah is generally found improvising new recipes, riding her bike around Ithaca, and interjecting fun facts semi-irrelevantly into otherwise normal conversations.  She is so excited to share new research and perspectives (and random bits of science trivia) with all of you.

Member since: January 2018


Alexa Cohn

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Alexa is a second year PhD student in Microbiology, working in Martin Wiedmann’s Food Safety Lab.  She graduated from the University of Florida in 2017 with a bachelor’s in Microbiology and Cell Science.  Her current research involves understanding the differences in gene expression between different serovars of Salmonella enterica to find the “next top model” to study non-typhoidal Salmonella infections and studying the sigB stress regulon of Listeria monocytogenes.  When not in lab, Alexa enjoys running, baking, playing soccer, and reading books about infectious diseases.

Member since: January 2018, currently on a break but will return soon to the family


Jonathan Sogin

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Jonathan is a first year Ph.D. student studying Food Microbiology in Dr. Randy Worobo’s lab. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2018 with a B.S. in Food Science where he worked on applied food safety projects involving Escherichia coli, Salmonella enterica, and Listeria monocytogenes. His current research seeks to understand the microbial ecology of sea salt and kombucha. When not in lab, Jonathan enjoys hiking, biking, skiing, and cooking (especially tomato sauce).

Member since: September 2018


Meghan McGillin

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Meghan is a first year Ph.D. student in the Alcaine Research group. Her research involves phage-based therapies and biopreservation techniques. While receiving her BS in Food Science at The University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Meg had the opportunity go on exchange at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, as well as, Copenhagen University in Denmark. During the interim between undergrad and Cornell, Meg worked at Agri-mark, a butter processing plant, where she was the self-appointed “Dairy Queen”. More recently, she was at Cisco Brewers on Nantucket, where she utilized her fabulous food science education to mostly move around heavy kegs. Meghan is happiest when she is making bad art, listening to records, or rollerblading. Meg joined FMM because she’s obsessed with podcasts and has always wanted to be a part of one.

Member since: September 2018


Zhixin Wang

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Zhixin is a first year PhD student in the Cornell department of Food Science working in Dr. Julie Goddard’s lab. She graduated with a BS in Food Science in 2017 from McGill University, Montreal, Canada. Her current work focuses on using enzymes to extract rare sugars from dairy by-product waste streams. When not in lab, Zhixin enjoys cooking, fermenting (making kimchi, kombucha, kefir!!) and photography. Her love for fermented products made her join FMM. 

Member since: September 2018


Caitlin Carmody

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Caitlin is a first year PhD student in the Nugen Research Group at Cornell University. In 2018, she graduated from the University of Delaware with a BS in Food Science. Currently, she works on engineering bacteriophages for use in diagnostic tools. When not in the lab, she enjoys traveling and trying new foods. Caitlin is excited to be a part of the FMM podcast team to increase the presence of food science research in the media.

Member since: September 2018


Martin Liu

When he’s not pwning noobs in smash or moving heavy things up and down, Martin can be found in the kitchen cooking bacon shirtless or at the lab bench probably breaking a couple PPE rules. Martin graduated in 2018 from UC Berkeley with a B.S. in Chemistry, and is currently working towards his Ph.D. in Food Science. His research is on food waste, bioplastics, and renewable materials, with an emphasis on sustainability and business. He smiles too much to be normal, but also bakes really good chocolate chip cookies, so you can be the judge on that one. Approach with caution.

Member since May 2019


Tim Lott

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Tim Lott is a PhD student in the Milk Quality Improvement Program under the direction of Martin Wiedmann. His research aims to better predict fluid milk spoilage by spore-forming bacteria with predictive modeling. Tim does not think running is fun, but does quite a bit of it anyways. He also enjoys being a cat dad to Fitz, evaluating the sensory characteristics of dairy products, and playing on the lab soccer team, The Wiedmann Booriors. Tim grew up on a small dairy farm in Northwest Illinois and graduated with a B.S. in Food Science from Iowa State University. As a listener of many podcasts, This American Life being his favorite, he is excited to be a part of one.

Member since: August 2019


Alex Macbeth

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Alex is a PhD student in the Goddard Research Group. She earned her Bachelor’s in Chemistry from New York University in 2018 with a focus on Materials Science. Now she is researching how materials interact with our foods, and ways in which we can engineer these materials to preserve food and reduce food waste. In her spare time, Alex enjoys cooking for friends and family, music, knitting, hiking and eating ice cream!

Member since September 2019


Shiyu Cai

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Shiyu is a Ph.D. student in Food Science at Cornell University. Her dissertation work in Dr. Abby Snyder’s laboratory mainly focuses on process validation, sanitation procedure optimization to balance tradeoffs between quality and safety with cost and waste stream management. Shiyu came to the U.S. in 2012 and got her bachelor’s degree in Food Science at Purdue University. She completely her M.S. degree in Food Science at Cornell University with Dr. Randy Worobo in 2017. Shiyu has a strong interest in working in Extension programs and is currently teaching workshops that help small-scale food processors develop a scheduled process for their recipe or submit a qualified facility attestation form for compliance with FSMA.

Member since September 2019


Former Members

Jeff Tokman

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Jeffrey was a Masters Student in the Alcaine Research group. His research involved the engineering of T7 bacteriophages infecting E. coli, and determining methods for early detection of phages infecting lactic acid bacteria in cheese makes. Previously he worked in the Food Safety Lab where his research involved characterizing and identifying the infection kinetics of select listeriaphages. Jeffrey is now a research scientist still working with bacteriophages for application purposes at Intralytix.

Member from January – July 2018


Ola Esho

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Ola is a Masters student, currently working in Dr. Motoko Mukai’s Toxicology and Chemical Food Safety lab at Cornell University. Her primary area of study is chemical food safety, working to identify chemical components of food packaging migrants. Her research focuses on endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs), as well as studying their specific effects using zebrafish as a model organism. Ola enjoys playing squash, hiking, and exploring new places. She is excited about the Food Micro Minutes because it allows her to explore, learn, and talk about food microbiology.

Member: January – December 2018


Genevieve Sullivan

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Genevieve Sullivan is a PhD student in Food Science, working in Martin Wiedmann’s Food Safety Lab. She previously completed her undergraduate degree in Food Science at Cornell University. Her research involves developing, implementing, and evaluating environmental monitoring programs in produce facilities using data from whole genome sequencing. Her strengths include distracting people who are overly-focused and focusing people who are overly-distracted. Genevieve’s pastime include talking about Listeria and hiking.

Member since: January – December 2018


Marie Lawton

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Marie Lawton is a Ph.D. student studying Food Microbiology in the Alcaine Research Group at Cornell University.  Her current research focuses on utilizing biopreservation methods to reduce food waste and increase food safety. Originally from Massachusetts, she graduated with a B.S. in Food Science from UMass Amherst. During her time there, she worked with small farms in fresh produce safety. Marie enjoys spending her free time outdoors and during the winter she goes skiing in the mountains of New England. Marie is excited to be involved with Food Micro Minutes because she is passionate about science communication.

Member since: January – November 2018


Emma Farquharson

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Emma is a third year Ph.D. Candidate working under Dr. Sam Nugen in Cornell University’s Food Science Department. Her research focuses on overcoming the major biological and practical limitations that prevent bacteriophage-based technologies from reaching their full potential as separation and detection tools in Food/Water Safety. Emma’s dream is to contribute to the greater good by improving the quality of life for those less fortunate than herself. On a personal note, one of Emma’s favorite things to do is to explore the United States on motorcycles alongside her father.

As “Food Micro Minutes” Podcast’s co-founder and former president, Emma is excited to be working alongside some of the brightest minds in her department and to follow her curiosity across the range of topics that make it into the podcast. She believes that there is immense importance in scientific communication and hopes to work with her peers to bring the most exciting, novel, and current advancements within Food Microbiology to her community.

Member since: January 2018 – April 2019


Joshua Herskovitz

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Born and raised in Los Angeles, California. Josh graduated from University of California-Davis with a BS in Food Science emphasizing in Food Biochemistry in 2016. Josh works in the Goddard Research Lab studying novel nonmigratory active packaging technology for improved shelf life and reduced food waste. Josh’s passions include Food Science, brewing, coffee roasting, and the Los Angeles Dodgers. Josh is looking forward to using his involvement in FMM as a launch board into the wealth of knowledge in Food Microbiology!

Member since: January 2018 – September 2019


Mariely Medina

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Mariely’s curious nature and profound interest in the use of technology to improve food and water safety took her to the Food Science Department at Cornell University. Currently, she is a Food Microbiology Ph.D.  candidate at Professor’s Batt laboratory. She is working on the design and fabrication of a water safety test kit. The final product will include a portable and battery powered device and will allow the end user to accurately detect Coliforms in hours instead of days. Before coming to Cornell, she obtained a BS in Industrial Microbiology, and an MS in from the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus. Her favorite place on Earth is the Vieques Bioluminescent bay in Puerto Rico.  On her free time, she enjoys playing with her dog, listening to podcasts and taking pictures of nature. She joined the FMM podcast team to help communicate scientific findings.

Member since: January 2018 – September 2019


Sophia Harrand

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Sophia is a Ph.D. candidate in Dr. Martin Wiedmann’s Food Safety Lab and she got her start with degrees in Biology and Molecular Life Sciences at Free University and Humboldt University respectively – back in her home city, Berlin. She is intrigued by the fine-tuning mechanisms of foodborne pathogens that allow them to adapt to different environments. Her latest project explored ‘nature versus nurture’ when it comes to how pathogens respond to challenge and validation studies when previously exposed to different stresses. She now works on characterizing Salmonella’s DNA-damaging cytolethal distending toxin as well as on developing a new cloning tool for mutating Listeria monocytogenes. If not at the bench, Sophia loves cooking, fermenting, baking and hosting dinner parties for friends. Her favorite thing is Kimchi, a joy that isn’t always shared with everyone around her. She is thrilled to dive into the world of food microbes with you.

Member since: January 2018 – September 2019