Steven Ricke named to UA food safety chair

Oct. 10, 2005
Contact Information:

Dr. Steven C. Ricke, 979-862-1528,
Dr. Greg Weidemann, 479-575-2034,
Howell Medders, 479-575-5647,

Steven C. Ricke

Steven C. Ricke

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. --- Steven C. Ricke, a professor of poultry science at Texas A&M University, will be the first holder of the new Donald "Buddy" Wray Chair in Food Safety and director of the Center for Food Safety in the Institute of Food Science and Engineering at the University of Arkansas.

Greg Weidemann, dean of the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences and associate vice president of the U of A System's Division of Agriculture, announced the appointment today. He said Ricke will join the faculty in January.

"Dr. Ricke is one of the leading young scientists in the fields of food safety and microbiology," Weidemann said. "He has an excellent track record of working with colleagues in a variety of disciplines to address food safety issues."

Weidemann added that the Center for Food Safety is designed to facilitate cooperation by University scientists, other agencies and the food industry. "Working together is essential to developing, delivering and implementing new information and technology that will lead to safer products for consumers," he said.

The center is a unit of the U of A System's statewide Division of Agriculture.

Ricke said, "I look forward to the tremendous opportunities in this appointment for developing an outstanding program that will represent the cutting edge of food safety and microbiology."

The Donald "Buddy" Wray Chair in Food Safety is supported by a $3 million endowment provided by matching gifts from Tyson Foods and a fund created from the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation's $300 million gift to the University in 2002.

Investment earnings from the endowment will be used to support Ricke's teaching and research in the Department of Food Science and the Center of Excellence for Poultry Science as well as the Center for Food Safety.

Wray, who retired in 2000 as Tyson Foods president and chief operating officer, is a 1959 graduate of the U of A with a degree in agriculture. He has served as industry advisor to the USDA Food Safety Consortium, which funds research at the U of A, Iowa State University and Kansas State University.

Ricke grew up on a dairy and grain farm near Bingham, IL. He has B.S. and M.S. degrees from the University of Illinois and a doctorate from the University of Wisconsin with a co-major in animal science and bacteriology. He held a USDA post-doctorate position in microbiology at North Carolina State University from 1989 to 1992. He joined the Texas A&M poultry science faculty in 1992 and rose to the rank of professor in 2004.

In addition to teaching and research duties in poultry science, Ricke is also a professor of veterinary pathobiology in the College of Veterinary Medicine and a member of the graduate molecular and environmental science faculty, the graduate nutrition faculty, the institute of molecular pathogenesis, the graduate food science and technology faculty, and the center of food safety in the Institute of Food Science and Engineering at Texas A&M.

Ricke received the Poultry Science Association National Research Award in 1999 and the title of Faculty Fellow of the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station in 2003. His publications include 153 research articles in refereed journals and 37 review papers and book chapters. He is editor in chief for Bioresource Technology and has been a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Food Protection and three other scientific journals.

Ricke teaches undergraduate and graduate students and has been the major professor for over 20 students who received M.S. and Ph.D. degrees. One of his students, Dr. Young Min Kwon, is now a UA faculty member and was recently awarded a $541,368 grant from the National Institutes of Health for research on Salmonella enteritidis.

Salmonella enteritidis, a bacterium that causes more than half of the food-borne illness cases in the United States, has been the major focus of Ricke's research. His research team recently reported findings that led to dietary changes for laying hens to prevent Salmonella enteritidis infection during molting, which is a periodic shedding of feathers.