“The 2006 E. coli outbreak in the US was a real motivation for me,” said Siyun Wang, Assistant Professor, Food Safety Engineering. “It moved me to study food borne pathogens so I can help develop better prevention strategies to control food borne disease.”
During her PhD in Biology at the Illinois Institute of Technology (2010), Wang – one of two new Assistant Professors recently hired to work in our Food Safety department – was part of a research project that studied the stress response of E. coli O157:H7, the bacteria responsible for 3 deaths in the US in 2006.
“We studied the response of E. coli O157:H7 under chlorine treatment and how it responded to this sanitation process,” she said, adding that their discovery of treatment resistant genes will enable researchers to develop new detection technologies and vaccines.
Wang has also worked with industry to evaluate some of the bacteria detection systems currently on the market. “There are so many that it’s challenging for the food companies to choose which one to use,” she said.
She plans to directly apply what she’s learned through these projects, as well as from her experience as a Postdoctoral Associate at Cornell University, to her research at UBC. Wang’s main goal is to create a rapid bacteria detection system with much bigger potential than what is currently available.
Wang is looking forward to starting her research projects and to working with students. Beginning in January 2014, she’ll teach a graduate level course in advanced food technology. She is also developing a brand new food safety course to be launched in September 2014.