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Jaykus Wins University’s Top Honor

Lee-Ann Jaykus of the NC State Department of Food, Bioprocessing and Nutrition Sciences

Lee-Ann Jaykus, William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor in the Department of Food, Bioprocessing and Nutrition Sciences, has been awarded the Alexander Quarles Holladay Medal for Excellence, NC State’s highest honor in recognition of faculty achievement.

Jaykus was one of three NC State faculty members to receive the award from Chancellor Randy Woodson during a May 2 ceremony.

An internationally-recognized expert in food microbiology, Jaykus is best known for her work in food virology. She secured a $24.8 million award from the United States Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture – one of the two largest grants ever issued by USDA-NIFA in support of food safety work – to establish the NoroCORE project.

As NoroCORE scientific director, Jaykus leads a collaborative of scientists from over 15 other institutions and more than 100 stakeholders representing more than 50 public and private entities. The collaborators work together to translate research findings into practical applications that improve the quality of life of citizens worldwide.

“Our food microbiology programs are widely regarded among the finest in the world, and Lee-Ann is one of the elite scientists within that global community,” said Chris Daubert, head of the Department of Food, Bioprocessing and Nutrition Sciences. “The sustained success and excellence of her 22-year career at NC State speaks for itself. Lee-Ann is a trailblazing scientist, a beloved teacher and mentor, and a consummate professional who is well-deserving of this award recognizing her exceptional contributions.”

The research produced by Dr. Jaykus’ food virology program has led to increased public health awareness of how easily norovirus is transmitted and how difficult it is to halt that transmission. These findings have led to the development of better ways to control norovirus.

“When I became an assistant professor at NC State, I could never have dreamed I would one day be in this position,” Jaykus said. “While being named a Holladay Medal winner is a peak experience for me, I am humbled by just how many people have had a role in my success. The Holladay Medal is really an award for our work together. I can’t imagine a life without such wonderful students, colleagues and collaborators.”

Jaykus received a bachelor’s degree in food science and a master’s degree in food microbiology from Purdue University in 1979 and 1982, respectively. She joined industry for seven years, then returned to school to earn a Ph.D. in environmental sciences and engineering from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1994. Jaykus joined NC State in 1994 and became a William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor in 2012.

She also has served as a faculty member of the Department of Microbiology, the Population Medicine Program (College of Veterinary Medicine), and the Genomics and Biotechnology Program.

Jaykus’ numerous awards and honors include the International Association for Food Protection Maurice Weber Laboratorian Award and the NC State Alumni Association Outstanding Research Award. She also was featured in 2011 as “Tar Heel of the Week” in the Raleigh News & Observer.