Catherine Gensler – 2018

School: University of Connecticut
Degree: Masters of Animal Science with a focus on food microbiology and safety

  1. School/University and current year entering the 2018 semester
    This fall I will be starting the second year of my Master’s Program at the University of Connecticut.
  2. Academic advisor(s):
    There I am advised by Dr. Dennis D’Amico
  3. Degree/Major/Research focus:
    I am pursuing this Masters of Animal Science with a focus on food microbiology and safety. Our lab focuses on improving the safety and quality of cheese. We are looking at a variety of interventions to control pathogens in raw milk and pasteurized milk cheeses. (For more information our website is here). I am investigating the use of protective cultures as one such clean label solution. Protective Cultures are beneficial bacteria that produce a defense response that inhibits pathogens like Listeria monocytogenes without disrupting the other desired microbes in the cheese.
  4. How did you choose your area of study?
    Cheese making is a mesmerizing process. The first time I watched milk separate into curds and whey I was aghast at how spontaneous the change occurred. Now, even with an understanding of the chemistry, this process still inspires awe. Exploring the cheese case at the supermarket it is amazing how a few minute changes can manipulate the same ingredients into a variety of different textures and flavors. After exploring other food categories I chose to delve into this area to better understand this amazing process and contribute to keeping it safe for producers big and small and tasty for all!
  5. How has this scholarship helped you?
    This scholarship will be used to cover my academic fees this fall semester and then I will be allocating a portion to attend and present my research at IFT and IAFP next summer.
  6. What is your favorite class this semester and why?
    I absolutely loved my Food Policy class as an undergraduate. Understanding the legal landscape around food is important not only to stay in business but also as a researcher to identify gaps of where producers may need more support to stay in compliance. There is alot to know and continue learning about in this area- it never stops evolving!

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