My research is improving microbial food safety: fresh produce safety and poultry meat safety in our local West Virginia region.
The most interesting thing that I’ve discovered is we had a great opportunity here from the local farms. We did a validation study for them testing antimicrobials. We tested food for pathogens - all the fresh produce. We also validated antimicrobials in tests for the control of foodborne pathogens on meats. I find that the small farms are very engaged in the research. The most exciting thing is that the local farmers are excited to be involved in this research.
The graduate students are always highly involved in the research. It’s been a very productive year. We had an external grant get funded through USDA. We publish four or five papers every year in peer reviewed journals. Our students have presented multiple times in national or international food science conferences.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I would have loved to be a teacher all the time, like an instructor. When I was young, I grew up in a family with my grandfather and father and lots of aunts and uncles and relatives are teachers in the universities or elementary school or high school in China. My wife also works in the University of Pittsburgh. At that time, I would love to be a teacher and I became a professor so it’s a very exciting job for me.
What year in school was your favorite and why?
I was coming to the United States to pursue a Ph.D., studying meat science and food safety at Colorado State University in 2006. The year I came to the United States was very exciting because I knew I could learn new stuff and new technology and new ideas regarding microbial food safety. I was also very excited when I got a job at WVU because after my wife and I married, we hadn’t lived together for four years and finally we could have a good life and a family.
What is something you hope to learn?
I would love to learn to play tennis. I play that all the time and practice with my friends. I want to learn more techniques and play more of a professional style.
If you could go back to school, what would you study?
If I wanted to go back to school, if I get another chance, I may do more to learn from the genetics - from the molecule and genetics stand point. What I do is more traditional food micro stuff, but if I go back, I would learn more molecule stuff, genetics and genomics.
What's one class you wish you had taken in college?
In college, I will say American History. That’s the class I didn't get a chance to take. And a politics class because I care to learn more details of the culture and history of the country.
What's a dream you have?
When I am getting older, let’s say 55, 60 years old, I may want to go forward and join university leadership team working for the dean or the provost for the academic area. I do want to be more dynamic in my time. We focus on teaching, research and service, but if I could be in leadership team maybe one day I can contribute more to the university and the West Virginia local community.
What did you learn from 2020?
I learned from 2020 that personal hygiene and those things are what we did not pay much attention to before. Washing hands before and after going to the restroom and before eating meals and wearing masks if we cannot keep social distance. And all those kinds of personal hygiene stuff we should do routinely before, but we did not do very well. I did not recognize how important it is. After the pandemic, we’re paying more attention to that.
Just for Fun
A book you've always wanted to read: 100 Names for Love
Most adventurous food you've tasted: Gyro
Favorite band in college: West Life
Dogs or cats? Cats. My cat's name is Xiaom, meaning "little rice"