Biting into a tasty wedge of melon Listeria is probably the last thing on your mind, unless you’re Haley Oliver. As an associate professor with Purdue’s Department of Food Sciences, Oliver’s research focuses on the spread of food-borne pathogens in the retail landscape. She has studied a variety of sanitation strategies that reduce contamination and extend a product’s shelf life.
While Oliver’s work focuses mainly on containment of the Listeria bacteria, she also employs genome sequencing to better understand the environments that foster Salmonella and Staphylococcus. One of Oliver’s recent projects involved investigating food handling practices at over 100 retail establishment. Oliver also collaborates with the USDA and USAID to spread awareness about food safety. This initiative takes her regularly to Afghanistan, where she implements food safety practices and technologies.
In addition to lending her expertise overseas, Oliver serves as a domestic resource for issues of food handling and processing, food poisoning and institutional practices that impact food safety. She assists companies, reporters and the public in better understanding how contaminations occur and offers practical advice on how to avoid them.