Our Team

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Dr. Yaohua (Betty) Feng

Dr. Feng is an assistant professor of food science at Purdue University. Feng’s research program explores cultural, social, and environmental factors that affect food safety behaviors. The goal of Dr. Feng’s research program is to identify barriers to understanding food safety issues and evaluate strategies that empower stakeholders to make science-based decisions. By using both qualitative and quantitative research methods and working with farmers, food workers, and consumers, Dr. Feng’s work can increase the knowledge of different sectors of the food supply chain: which include consumers, food processors, retailers and the policymakers.

PhD Students

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Merlyn Thomas

Merlyn received her master’s in food science  from the University of Georgia and is pursuing her PhD in Dr. Feng’s lab studying the social implications of  food safety. She has assisted in projects related to pet food safety and food handling practices of university students. Currently, she is working on projects related to food safety and the COVID-19 pandemic. She hopes to learn and grow during her time at Purdue and in the Feng Lab.


Han Chen

My name is Han and I’m currently a graduate student in Dr. Feng’s lab. Currently, I’m working on the veteran farmer project, which is to evaluate the attitude, knowledge, and practices of veteran farmers. Previously, we found out that there was little research conducted to understand the barriers faced by veteran farmers who may struggle to balance profits and the increasing food safety regulatory requirements. Therefore, we want to identify the major barriers and develop a better food safety education program for veteran farmers.

Master Students


Juan Achila Godínez

My name is Juan C. Archila Godínez, and I received a BSc. in Food Science and Technology from Zamorano University, Honduras. Since 2019, I have had the opportunity to assist in some projects from Dr. Feng’s lab. Currently, I am pursuing my MS in Dr. Feng’s lab, evaluating the effectiveness of online food safety educational materials for small food processors and veteran farmers. I hope these coming years will be of professional and personal growth in the lab.


Megan Low

My name is Megan Low and I graduated with a BSc in Food Science from the University in Minnesota in 2018. Over the past 3 months, I have been working remotely from Malaysia on a project with Dr. Feng examining the effects of situational factors on consumers’ menu selection of risky food items. I will join as an MS student in her lab starting Spring 2021 and look forward to starting the consumer perception research in flour safety.

Maeve Swinehart

My name is Maeve Swinehart, and I graduated with a BSc in Biological Sciences from the University of Notre Dame in 2021. Since the summer, I have been conducting research on the food safety implications of homemade nut-based dairy alternatives and soaked nuts with Dr. Feng. Starting in spring 2022, I will pursue my MS in Dr  Feng’s lab. I look forward to continue my research on tree nuts and military veteran farmers over the next two years. 

Zach Berglund

My name is Zachary Berglund, I graduated from Purdue ABE in 2020 and since then have had experience working in agriculture at a small robotics start-up and then as a medical technician at a contract research organization. My personal interests vary from synthetic biology, biosafety, and ethics to fermentative processes, home brewing, and food safety. Currently, I’m studying in Feng’s Lab as a master’s student and plan to graduate in 2023. My research aims to understand the barriers and advantages of digital food safety trainings with a focus for small scale food processors.

Undergraduate Students


Sangavi Subramani

I am a Senior double majoring in Food Science and Biological Engineering with a concentration in food and bioprocessing. As an undergraduate research assistant, I help collect food handling data from various video recipes. I also assist with a food safety workshop geared towards individuals of low socioeconomic backgrounds.


Cai Chen

My name is Cai Chen and I am a freshman at Purdue majoring in agribuisness. I’m currently working with Han on the veteran farmer project. I code literature reviews, transcribe focus groups, and assist Han in carrying out focus groups.


Sanjana Manjrekar

My name is Sanjana Manjrekar and I am currently a Senior studying Nutrition and Food in Business. My role in Dr. Feng’s Lab is to help with video analysis and data entry in the Dry Woodier Mushrooms study and other research studies at the Lab.

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Sasha Nerney

My name is Alexandra ‘Sasha’ Nerney and I am currently a Senior studying Food Science with a minor in Fermentation at Purdue. I have always had interest in food safety and am excited to hone my skills helping as an undergraduate intern in Dr. Feng’s lab! Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sashanerney/


Isabelle Yates

My name is Isabelle Yates, and I am currently a Junior studying Biological Engineering at Purdue. I have always had an interest in food safety and ways to make our food safer. I look forward to working with Dr. Feng and everyone else in the lab to help improve food safety and keep our community informed! LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/isabelle-yates-9b3933190/


Ella Bryan

My name is Ella and I am currently a Junior studying food science at Purdue. This is my first time in a research lab, and I am excited to assist Dr. Feng and others with projects to improve food safety in our community.

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/isabella-bryan



I am a Junior studying Food Science and Finance at Purdue. Currently, I am assisting Juan and Han on the Wood Ear Mushroom Content Analysis as an undergraduate research assistant in the Feng Lab.


Melissa Suárez

My name is Melissa M. Suárez Escala, I’m currently a junior majoring in Food Science at Purdue University. My role in the lab is to help Dr. Feng in creating content for the web page and social media. I’m very excited to be starting out at Dr. Feng’s lab this year!


Alyson McGovern

My name is Alyson McGovern and I am a junior majoring in Food Science with a minor in Fermentation Sciences. I am passionate about food safety in the food industry ranging from ingredient suppliers, plant manufacturing practices, and consumer product response. In the lab I will create and learn ways to spread the importance of food safety to all consumers

Visiting Students

Carmen Yulieth Bañol

My name is Carmen Yulieth Bañol, I am a undergraduate student in Agriculture Business Management at Caldas University in Colombia. I am a visiting student at Purdue University in the Food Science Department. I am currently working on research on Food Safety Content Analysis. This research will help me find opportunities in the academic field and also in the work environment. I hope to apply all the knowledge I have acquired during my time in the Feng lab back home in Columbia. 

Luisa Garcia

My name is Luisa Garcia, and I’m originally from Colombia. I am undergraduate student in Agriculture Business Management at Caldas University in Colombia. I am currently a visiting undergraduate student. I have been working on food safety content analysis. The idea is to be able to apply all the acquired knowledge with Dr Feng’s laboratory group.

Summer Interns

There are currently no summer interns in the lab.