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Food safety leader joins N.C. State faculty

Media Contact: Dr. Barbara Kowalcyk, 608-347-1227 or

Already strong food safety programs at North Carolina State University will be strengthened further with the addition of Dr. Barbara Kowalcyk as a member of the faculty in the university’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Kowalcyk is well known in the food safety community as the chief executive officer of the Center for Foodborne Illness Research and Prevention (, a non-profit organization dedicated to preventing foodborne illness through research, education, advocacy and service. In 2010, Kowalcyk was named the Huffington Post Ultimate Game Changer in Food and received the LennonOno Grant for Peace, a biannual award established to honor John Lennon’s dedication to peace and commitment to human rights. She also was featured in the 2009 documentary Food, Inc.

At N.C. State, Kowalcyk will serve as an assistant research professor in the Department of Food, Bioprocessing and Nutrition Sciences. She will be a half-time faculty member, continuing to serve as CEO of the Center for Foodborne Illness Research and Prevention. The center has moved from Pennsylvania and will be housed on N.C. State’s Centennial Campus. Kowalcyk, who’s first day as an N.C. State faculty member was Thursday, Dec. 1, will also be an adjunct faculty member of the Gillings School of Public Health at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Kowalcyk became interested in food safety following the death in 2001 of her 2-year-old son Kevin from complications related to E.coli poisoning. She founded the Center for Foodborne Illness Research and Prevention in 2006, while she received a Ph.D. in environmental health with a focus in epidemiology/biostatistics earlier this year.

“We feel North Carolina is a really good environment for our organization to grow in,” Kowalcyk said. “North Carolina is already a food safety leader, and we feel the state is well positioned to become one of the most prominent participants in food safety in the country. There’s so much potential.”

As an N.C. State faculty member, Kowalcyk said her focus will be research designed to develop a better understanding of how and why outbreaks of foodborne illness occur as well as long-term impacts on human health that may be related to bouts of foodborne illness. She said she hopes through the Center for Foodborne Illness Research and Prevention to amplify her research to educate policy makers and others and develop collaborations and policies that lessen the impact and frequency of foodborne illness outbreaks.

Written by: Dave Caldwell, 919-5-3-3127 or

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