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Montgomery College Hosts Spectrum Lecture on Foodborne Illnesses Shirley A. Micallef, PhD, to Discuss Ways to Reduce the Risks of Fresh Produce Contamination Through Improved Agricultural Practices

Dr. Shirley A. Micallef, assistant professor in the Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture with a joint appointment at the Center for Food Safety and Security Systems at the University of Maryland, will deliver a special presentation at Montgomery College-Germantown Tuesday, April 8 at 4:30 p.m. as part of the College’s Spectrum Lecture Series. The talk will take place in Globe Hall, located in the High Technology and Science Center, 20200 Observation Drive, Germantown, Md. This event is free and open to the public.

In her talk, Dr. Micallef will discuss the increase in the number of foodborne illness outbreaks associated with the consumption of fresh produce. Foodborne illness outbreaks are not only a risk to public health, but also lead to substantial economic losses to produce growers and associated industries. Growers adopt Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) to reduce contamination of produce on farms. However, there is a need to improve GAPs to further reduce produce contamination risk. A survey on the prevalence of foodborne bacteria on produce farms in the Mid-Atlantic Region will be presented, followed by ongoing research on the potential impact of various cropping methods on the fate and persistence of enteric human pathogens on farms. The impact of tomato plant genetic background on Salmonella colonization efficiency will also be explored.

Dr. Micallef received a PhD in microbial ecology from the University of Massachusetts, and master’s and bachelor’s degrees from the University of Malta. As a post-doctoral research associate at the School of Public Health at the University of Maryland, Dr. Micallef focused on the prevalence, distribution and antibiotic susceptibilities of enteric bacteria in the tomato farm agro-environment. Her research interests include the interaction of foodborne pathogens with plants and the ecology of foodborne pathogens in the agricultural environment. Research focuses on the survival and persistence of pathogens in various farming systems and how GAPs and cropping methods impact enteric pathogen persistence. Her work also assesses the interaction of Salmonella with tomatoes and the influence of plant genetic variation on plant-enteric pathogen relationships.

Like all Spectrum Lectures, this presentation is designed for a nonscientific audience, enabling scientists, students, and the community to learn about groundbreaking advancements in science. No tickets are required to attend.

For questions or to request accommodations for physical disability, please contact Susan Bontems at or 240-567-7740.

More information about Spectrum Lectures at Montgomery College can be found at:

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