Amazing Students

Melinda Murray

Melinda Murray is on track to become an outstanding food scientist. For two years, she worked at the UGA campus in Griffin at the Center for Food Safety. It wasn’t long before she developed an independent research project focused on evaluating gaseous chlorine dioxide and other sanitizers for their efficacy in killing three foodborne pathogenic bacteria on fresh and fresh-cut produce. She wrote a detailed report that was merged with results from a companion project to prepare a manuscript that has been published in an academic journal. She has also conducted research focused on the bacterium Alicyclobacillus, and she published a research article from this work as well. Murray was selected as a finalist in an undergraduate student paper competition and presented her work at the 2006 meeting of the Institute of Food Technologists in Orlando, Fla. She has received several national scholarships including one of two awarded by the American Association of Candy Technologists. When she graduates from UGA, she plans to go to graduate school and work as a food scientist.

Hometown:

Peachtree City, Georgia

High School:

Starr's Mill High School

Degree objective:

B.S. in food science and technology

Expected graduation:

Fall 2007

University highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships:

I conducted research at the Center for Food Safety during the summers of 2004 and 2005. My first project focused on evaluating gaseous chlorine dioxide and other sanitizers to evaluate how well they would kill three foodborne pathogenic bacteria (Salmonella, Escherichia coli O157:H7, and Listeria monocytogenes). In the summer of 2005, I conducted research focused on evaluating methods for detecting Alicyclobacillus, a spoilage bacterium commonly found in fruit and vegetable drinks, sugars and syrups. This project was done as part of an undergraduate honors thesis. The work from these studies has been published in the International Journal of Food Microbiology. I also presented this work at the 2006 Institute of Food Technologists annual meeting as part of an Undergraduate Student Research Paper Competition, and I will present it at the CURO Symposium in April. I am also currently the vice president of service for the UGA chapter of the national service fraternity Alphi Phi Omega.

Current Employment:

I recently completed a six month internship with General Mills at their world headquarters in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I worked as a food microbiology intern in Quality and Regulatory Operations on a novel biocontrol preservation project for refrigerated foods to help prevent the growth of Clostridium botulinum. When in Athens, I have worked in Mark Harrison’s food microbiology lab. I helped set up labs for his classes, and I assisted graduate students and technicians with research projects.

Family Ties to UGA:

My mom is a professor of horticulture here at UGA. She works primarily as a research scientists at UGA’s campus in Griffin. Through the work that my mom has done over the years, I gained a great appreciation for the research that is conducted at the University of Georgia.

I chose to attend UGA because…

...UGA is an excellent research institution in the state of Georgia. While I was unsure of exactly what I wanted to study, I knew that I would not be let down by choosing UGA. There are so many choices and opportunities, so I knew this was the place for me.

My favorite things to do on campus are…

...to walk around campus, especially north campus. It’s a very beautiful place to go and relax. I also enjoy attending gymnastic meets and taking aerobics classes at Ramsey.

When I have free time, I like…

...volunteering with the national service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega. It’s a great way to build leadership, friendship, and service skills. It’s a great way to get to know people who share my goals and ambitions in life also. We have helped numerous organizations and causes such as the homeless shelter here in Athens, Relay for Life, tutoring programs at local schools, and Habitat for Humanity.

The craziest thing I've done is…

...go to Minneapolis, Minnesota for a six month internship where I knew absolutely no one. I’d lived in Georgia my whole life, and I went to UGA with friends from high school. I always wanted to have an experience where I had to go off on my own and rely on myself. I did it! I met so many wonderful people and formed many great friendships with people from all over the country.

My favorite place to study is…

...in the quiet of my room. I do my best studying with no distractions.

My favorite professor is…

There are actually several professors who have been excellent mentors to me at UGA. During two of my summers at UGA, I worked in Larry Beuchat’s labs at the Center for Food Safety on the UGA Griffin campus. During my second summer, he was my undergraduate advisor for my honors thesis. He gave me the opportunity to help in the planning of experiments, the implementation of experiments, and the writing of manuscripts. I also greatly value Mark Harrison my advisor and Food microbiology professor and Rob Shewfelt my food chemistry and chocolate science professor. With the guidance and support from these three professors, I have had many amazing opportunities that will definitely give me a great start for my future career in food science.

If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with…

Honestly, it’s not anyone legendary or famous. I would love just sharing the afternoon with family and close friends, especially family and friends that I don’t get to see often.

If I knew I could not fail, I would…

...open up my own wooden doll house store. I have always enjoyed crafts and especially building doll houses. I wouldn’t mind spending all my time building doll houses and helping others build them as well!

After graduation, I plan to…

...attend graduate school and earn a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in food science and technology and then get a job working in the food industry for a while. Eventually, I may return to a university setting as a professor to conduct research and teach.

The one UGA experience I will always remember will be…

...living in the dorms with a bunch of women and having to use community bathrooms. I will always remember moving into my first condo and having to empty out the basement when a huge storm came through and it flooded. And most of all, I will always remember and cherish all the friendships that I have made throughout my college career. Without all the fun times with friends, life just wouldn’t be as sweet.

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