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Mindy Brashears of Lubbock, Texas, received both her master’s and doctoral degrees in food science, specializing in food microbiology, from OSU. She is an animal and food sciences professor at Texas Tech University, and in 2019, Brashears was inducted as the fifth Senate-confirmed undersecretary of food safety, which is the highest food safety job in the U.S. government.


Within a year of confirmation, Brashears faced a historic crisis with the COVID-19 pandemic and was tasked with keeping USDA inspectors operating and food processing plants open.


Clint Rusk, department head for OSU’s Department of Animal and Food Sciences, nominated Brashears for the prestigious award and described her as a well-known, key expert in her field.


“She has excelled in the area of microbial food safety, especially related to the detection and control of Escherichia coli 0157:H7 in cattle,” Rusk wrote in his nomination statement. “Her research has involved both pre-harvest and post-harvest control of this foodborne pathogen in meats and has shown that feeding a selected probiotic culture to feedlot cattle resulted in as much as a 30% reduction in the incidence of E. coli 0157:H7 in the cattle.”


As an active alumna, Brashears stays in contact with the OSU food and meat science faculty by exchanging ideas, networking with students, and speaking to classes and groups about her research.

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