Working Groups

AUFSI organizes and maintains numerous Working Groups, targeted research groups comprised of AUFSI Core Faculty. These groups involve collaboration across various Auburn University Colleges and Schools, as well as those from many other major universities and industry partners. More information and overviews of each group are coming soon, and public websites for certain groups are currently being developed. For more information about working groups, contact Regina Crapps at (334) 844-7456 or email her at

Current working groups:

Farm and Consumer Environmental Safety and Security (FACESS)

Agriculture 088

This working group is a collaboration between researchers from the Auburn University departments of animal science, poultry science, agricultural economics and rural sociology and Alabama Water Watch. The partnership also includes the College of Business and researchers from Tuskegee University. This group is completing year two of a five-year, USDA-funded project that aims to improve food security and safety on small cattle farms while helping to sustain the viability of small producers and vendors. Regulation and inspection of food products are inconsistent, so small farmers, farmers markets and small niche operators may not have adopted necessary food safety measures. For more information, contact Dr. Christy Bratcher at


Obesity Working Group

The AUFSI Obesity Working Group consists of individuals (both faculty and community partners) interested in obesity prevention. The primary purpose is to generate research proposals related to obesity prevention through interdisciplinary collaboration, shared expertise, and creating networking opportunities. The group also provides a forum for faculty and community partners to share their research, outreach, or educational activities related to obesity prevention.  The working group is open for anyone interested in obesity prevention research or outreach to share ideas, identify gaps, and generate potential solutions through scientific inquiry. It is expected that smaller research grant-writing teams will emerge from the larger group based on specific interests and expertise to target extramural funding opportunities. To learn more about the Obesity Working Group contact Dr. Bonnie Sanderson at (334) 844-6756 or


Food Entrepreneur Working Group

The Food Entrepreneur Working Group brings together the expertise of faculty members and others who are interested in helping budding food entrepreneurs. Faculty from animal sciences, fisheries and aquaculture, food science and business have joined with representatives of the Small Business Administration’s Small Business Development Center to sponsor two Food Entrepreneur Conferences, where aspiring entrepreneurs learned about subjects such as labeling, regulations, business plans, marketing and finding financing. Their next project is to establish the Virtual Food Entrepreneur Network, a web-based portal to provide all the information an aspiring food entrepreneur needs to know. To learn more about the Food Entrepreneur Working Group contact Dr. Jean Weese at (334) 844-7456 or



National Egg Products School Working Group


AUFSI’s Egg Working Group brings together scientists from Auburn, Clemson, North Carolina State, Purdue, the University of Georgia, and the University of Arkansas, as well as the Egg Safety and Quality Research Unit of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service in Athens, Georgia. The goal is to leverage egg-related research and outreach programs at each of the partner institutions, drawing on strengths and areas of expertise of each to address issues plaguing the nation’s $7.82 billion egg industry. This working group is responsible for the three-day, hands-on National Egg Products School that takes place every two years. The school is designed for the egg processing industry, foodservice and allied industries. To learn more about the NEPS Working Group contact Dr. Pat Curtis at (334) 844-7456 or


Agricultural Economics, Rural Communities and Food Policy Working Group


The Agricultural Economics and Rural Communities Working Group is currently working on a project to determine the factors that make a food hub successful. Although public interest in local and regional foods is soaring, many small- and mid-size farmers lack expertise to engage in the market, and food hubs can be a significant resource for these farmers. Food hubs can provide training to help small farmers fulfill the needs of schools and large retailers, while also facilitating marketing to these potential buyers. This group, which includes Auburn University faculty and Extension personnel struggling food hubs can benefit by learning strategies employed by successful food hubs. To learn more about the Agricultural Economics, Rural Communities and Food Policy Working Group contact Norbert Wilson at (334) 844-5616 or


Antibiotic Alternatives Working Group


Members of this working group are interested in identifying alternatives to the nontherapeutic use of antibiotics in the raising of food animals such as cattle, poultry and swine. Low doses of antibiotics are commonly used to promote the growth of food-producing animals in addition to the therapeutic doses used to prevent, control and treat disease. Overuse of antibiotics is believed to be related to the appearance of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the food supply, with the resistant pathogens ultimately cause resistant infections in humans. One possibility to be used as an alternative is a probiotic identified by a group member. To learn more about the Antibiotic Alternatives Working Group contact Sue Duran at (334) 844-6722 or



Salmonella Working Group

Colony of bacterias

The Salmonella Working Group, which brings together faculty from the Colleges of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine, explores the possibility that the foodborne bacteria Salmonella might be able to exploit proximity in mixed-animal food production sites to move between species, and that pre-harvest food safety interventions could be developed to reduce this transmission. For more information contact Stuart Price at (334) 844-2673 or



STEM Education Working Group

Teacher instructing class

Using  food science can make math and science easy to learn by explaining seemingly difficult concepts by using everyday materials and processes, such as baking. This very active group is working to make fun, food-related STEM lessons available to Alabama school children. Working group members come from the College of Education, College of Liberal Arts, College of Agriculture and the Auburn University-Montgomery Office of Outreach. The first project involves working with Montgomery Public Schools. For more information, contact Bob Norton at (334) 844-7562 or



Food Defense Working Group

food defense

Criminals or terrorists could score a big victory by tampering with the U.S. food supply. This new group is zeroing in on research and education to address this potential threat and so far includes members from the College of Agriculture and the College of Veterinary Medicine and Arizona State University. In the future, the group is expected to include members from other universities and industry. Chair Robert Norton has been writing a series of articles on the subject for Food Safety Magazine, and the group’s website will include a “members only” section where business and industry executives may discuss their concerns. For more information, contact Bob Norton, or (334) 844-7562.




Disaster Management Working Group

Food Donation Box

Most communities are just a few days away from running out of food should disaster—a hurricane, a tornado, an earthquake—strike. This new working group will focus on research and education related to disaster planning, preparation, and recovery. For more information, contact Bob Norton at (334) 844-7562 or




Aquaponics Working Group


The Aquaponics Working Group brings together researchers from fisheries, horticulture, and biosystems engineering to study aquaponics, which has been called “the future of farming” because of its highly efficient use of water to grow both fish and produce. AU’s aquaponics system consists of two greenhouses located at the E.W. Shell Fisheries Center a few miles north of Auburn’s main campus. One greenhouse contains tanks brimming with tilapia, and the other is full of cucumber vines trellised on strings, curling up from Dutch buckets filled with pine bark substrate. AU Tiger Dining is also an active partner in the working group, as tilapia and produce are processed and delivered when Tiger Dining needs the product. Campus dining gets year-round access to exclusive, high-value products in return for a reasonable investment, and researchers are able to study a working model that otherwise would be too expensive to operate.



Animal Food Manufacturing and Safety Working Group

The house hen pecks food from a feeding trough

The Animal Food Manufacturing and Safety Working Group emphasizes education and training for all aspects of animal food manufacturing, worker safety, food chain safety and security, and regulatory compliance.  Since animal foods are part of the whole food chain, producing safe animal foods is imperative for a complete cycle of food safety and security.  Working on the efficiency of production while also emphasizing employee safety is also a part of a healthy sustainable food chain.