Laura K. Strawn, Ph.D. (Candidate for Director)

Laura K. Strawn, Ph.D., a Lifetime Member of Phi Tau Sigma, is an Associate Professor and Extension Specialist of Produce Safety in the Department of Food Science and Technology at Virginia Tech. She holds three degrees in Food Science with food microbiology emphases, as well as minors in Epidemiology and Molecular Microbiology: a Ph.D. from Cornell University, a M.S. from the University of Florida, and a B.S. from the University of California, Davis.  Her research program at Virginia Tech focuses on the microbial safety of fresh fruits and vegetables; specifically, the ecology, evolution, and transmission of Salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes and Shiga-toxin producing Escherichia coli in the produce field to fork continuum. Additionally, Dr. Strawn works directly with produce stakeholders on various produce safety issues, as well as teaches a cadre of food safety curriculums. She leads Virginia Cooperative Extension’s educational efforts on the Food Safety Modernization Act’s Produce Safety Rule including teaching Produce Safety Alliance Grower Trainings and performing On-Farm Readiness Reviews. Dr. Strawn is also the Lead of Applied Research for Virginia’s Fresh Produce Food Safety Team, Extension Team Leader for Food Science, and an invited-member of several commodity driven food safety task force efforts. Professional service includes involvement in the American Society for Microbiology, International Association for Food Protection (IAFP), and Institute of Food Technologists. Dr. Strawn received the prestigious Larry Beuchat Young Researcher Award from IAFP in 2021. Service, specific to Phi Tau Sigma, includes serving as the Phi Tau Sigma Chapter President at the University of Florida, re-booting the Phi Tau Sigma Chapter at Virginia Tech, serving as the Virginia Tech Phi Tau Sigma Faculty Advisor since 2015, and serving on the Board of Directors from 2019-2022.      

Vision for ΦΤΣ:  As an active member of Phi Tau Sigma at the local level I am interested and excited to serve at the national level. Phi Tau Sigma is one of my favorite organizations because rarely does an organization pair scholarly pursuit, service to the community, and social interaction between members – all at the same time. In my current position, serving as the Faculty Advisor for the Virginia Tech Chapter of Phi Tau Sigma, I have invested in mentoring the next generation of Phi Tau Sigma members/food professionals. It has been highly rewarding working alongside bright students to develop service projects and social activities. The reason I decided to become a Lifetime Member of Phi Tau Sigma was because I feel truly honored to be a part of such a prestigious honor society. If elected, I look forward to working alongside each of you to carry out the Phi Tau Sigma mission.