The national nonprofit public health organization STOP Foodborne Illness is accepting applicants for its 2022-2023 Dave Theno Food Safety Fellowship. Applications must be submitted by March 31.

The fellowship program is a partnership with the Michigan State University Online Food Safety Program. The fellow will live in Chicago and work with STOP Foodborne Illness while completing a 12-credit online Food Safety Certificate with Michigan State University. The fellowship includes benefits, salary and tuition. The program cannot sponsor international students.

At the 2021 conference of the International Association for Food Protection, STOP Foodborne Illness named Shrinidhi “Nidhi” Joshi as its 2021-2022 Dave Theno Food Safety Fellow.

Joshi is a graduate of Texas Tech University and graduated with honors and Magna Cum Laude with a bachelor’s of science degree in microbiology and a minor in chemistry. During her college career, she conducted research on a food safety probiotics project and a food industry applicable stainless-steel project to identify the attachment of pathogenic bacteria. She was the recipient of multiple research endowments during her years at Texas Tech.

Shrinidhi “Nidhi” Joshi

Joshi told Food Safety News that the main highlight of working as the Dave Theno fellow has been seeing different fields come together for a common goal.

“STOP Foodborne Illness is currently part of a coalition that includes academics, industry and various consumer groups, whose goal is to push for reform of standards and regulation of Salmonella in poultry. It’s interesting to see the thought that goes into every letter we send to FSIS (USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service), the planning that goes into our recommendations, the attention to legal precedence and the research being done to support our work. It’s also valuable to see the challenges that come with changing policies and improving food safety.”

After finishing the fellowship and medical school, Joshi aspires to improve public health as an infectious disease doctor by working with others to enact better policies and initiatives.

“Through the fellowship and the various meetings I attend daily, I have gained exactly what I need to be successful,” she said. “The exposure I have gained in niche fields and the professional network I have built have been the most valuable.”

As the Dave Theno fellow, Joshi said she has gained exposure to food safety policy-making, course development, scientific research, and consumer advocacy.

“As someone who was interested in public health before the fellowship, I wanted to get involved in these fields but wasn’t sure how,” she said. “Now, I can confidently say that I would be able to meaningfully contribute and undertake challenging public health endeavors with the knowledge, exposure and network I have gained.”

Before applying and during the process, Joshi reached out to past fellows Emily Forauer and Jaime Ragos. After the fellowship, Forauer went on to obtain a master’s degree in nutrition and food science from the University of Vermont and now works as a cheesemaker in Vermont. Ragos recently finished her fellowship and is currently a Fulbright Scholar teaching English in Taiwan. “Considering other fellowships and internships that are available for newly graduated students, the Dave Theno Food Safety Fellowship is relatively new. This can be nerve-racking for some students; it was a bit for me in the beginning,” she said.

“The organizations that sponsor the fellowship (MSU and STOP Foodborne Illness) are well-established and credible. With that in mind, and having spoken with previous fellows, I felt confident about the value the fellowship would have on my future endeavors.”

Those interested in applying for the fellowship can find out more here.

About Dave Theno

Dave Theno

Theno was a senior vice president and chief food safety officer for Jack-in-the-Box in 1993, hired after the fast-food chain was reeling from a massive and deadly outbreak of E. coli O157:H7. Four children died in the outbreak that had more than 600 victims confirmed infected from undercooked hamburgers. Most of the victims were young children. Many of them were left with serious, lifelong complications that required ongoing medical treatment.

One of the victims was 9-year-old Lauren Beth Rudolph. She died in her mother’s arms Dec. 28, 1992. Theno carried a photo of Lauren Beth in his wallet from 1993 until he died in 2017, when a rogue wave hit him while swimming in Hawaii.

Lauren Beth Rudolph

Lauren Beth Rudolph

Lauren Rudolph’s impact on Dave Theno lives on today through the Theno Food Safety Fellowship. The fellowship provides an opportunity for a young food scientist to work with the STOP Foodborne Illness organization’s professionals and to learn from members of the extended STOP community about the real-world health consequences of failures in food safety. STOP is a public health non-profit organization, which, since 1994, has focused efforts on telling the “why” of food safety with personal stories. 

About STOP Foodborne Illness
STOP Foodborne Illness is a national nonprofit public health organization dedicated to preventing illness and death from foodborne pathogens by advocating for sound public policies, building public awareness, and assisting those impacted by foodborne illness.

Former FDA Deputy Commissioner of Foods and current board member for STOP, Mike Taylor, said the organization helps create a culture of food safety that has been the driver of “everything that’s happened since [1993] … It’s absolutely clear that [STOP is the] catalyst and that change of mindset has had a transformative effect on the food system in this country.”

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