Affiliate Faculty

AUFSI core faculty members are listed below with their areas of expertise. Auburn University also boasts many more faculty members with research and expertise related to all components of the food system. For more information, call Jacque Kochak at (334) 844-7465 or email her at

Toni Alexander

Department Chair, Global Cultures and Languages, Southeast Missouri State University

(573) 651-2146

Dr. Alexander is particularly interested in “cultural geography.” Cultural geography describes and analyzes the ways that language, religion, economy, government and other cultural phenomena vary or remain constant from one place to another.


Sonia Moisa Bachamp

Assistant Professor

Sonia Moisa Bachamp is an assistant professor of animal sciences in the College of Agriculture. Her specific research aims are to define potential markers for marbling deposition and growth efficiency in beef cattle; determine epigenetic regulators that might inhibit or enhance muscle growth and adipose tissue deposition in beef cattle; and characterize the administration of nutrients that might generate epigenetic changes (DNA methylation, acetylation, microRNAs) that will affect the transcriptome profile with noticeable phenotypic effects on beef carcass quality and/or animal performance.

Leonard Bell


Leonard Bell is a professor of poultry science in the College of Agriculture. His primary research focus is in the area of food physical chemistry.

Dianna Bourassa

Extension Specialist, Assistant Professor, Department of Poultry Science

(334) 844-2610

Dr. Bourassa is an extension specialist and assistant professor in the Department of Poultry Science. Her research focuses on poultry processing, microbiology, and food safety. Specifically, Dianna’s poultry processing research has included stunning and animal welfare, the effects of primary processing parameters on carcass microbiology, carcass sampling methods for foodborne pathogens, as well as the effects of farm interventions on fully processed carcasses. Her extension program includes supporting the Alabama poultry industry by providing education in areas such as stunning, welfare, food safety, and regulatory compliance. She has worked with programs such as 4-H and FFA.

Onikia Brown

Associate Professor & Extension Nutritionist

Onikia Brown is an associate professor and extension nutritionist in the Department of Nutrition, Dietetics, and Hospitality Management in the College of Human Sciences. Her research interests include using Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR) to examine the nutritional determinants, consequences, and prevention of diet-related health disparities in ethnic minority and low-income populations.

Brigitta Brunner

Professor, Communications and Journalism

(334) 844-2755

Dr. Brunner heads the public relations program and is an expert on crisis management.

Donna Burnett

Assistant Professor and Director of Graduate Clinical Education Programs

Donna Burnett is an assistant professor of nutrition in the Department of Nutrition, Dietetics, and Hospitality in the College of Human Sciences. Her areas of expertise include nutrition counseling; professional practice in dietetics and dietetics education; adverse childhood experiences and adult health outcomes; college weight gain and college health; and Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) research.

Zhongyang Cheng

Professor, Materials Engineering

(334) 844-3419

Dr. Cheng is the assistant director of the Center for Detection and Food Safety. He researches the use of tiny, inexpensive biosensors to improve the identification of foodborne pathogens.

David Cline

Extension Specialist

David Cline is an extension specialist in the School of Fisheries, Aquaculture, and Aquatic Sciences. His areas of expertise are catfish aquaculture, caged fish production, recreational pond management, small-scale marketing, aquatic plant management, aquaculture (other species) freshwater shrimp, crawfish, koi and aquatic plants.

Elina Coneva

Associate Professor & Extension Specialist

Elina Coneva is an extension specialist and associate professor of horticulture in the College of Agriculture. Her primary research focus is exploring the potential of alternative fruit crops in Alabama.

William Daniels

Associate Professor School of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Aquatic Sciences

(334) 844-9123

Dr. William Daniels is an associate professor of marine and freshwater aquaculture for the School of Fisheries, Aquaculture, and Aquatic Sciences. Dr. Daniels’ research focuses on catfish aquaculture and alternative production systems

Allen Davis

Alumni Professor, School of Fisheries, Aquaculture, and Aquatic Sciences

(334) 844-9312

Dr. Allen Davis is an alumni professor of aquatic animal nutrition in the School of Fisheries, Aquaculture, and Aquatic Sciences. He seeks to expand our understanding of the nutritional requirements of species of economic importance and to facilitate the continued development of commercial rations for use in supplemental feed systems.


Kimberly Garza

Assistant Professor, Harrison School of Pharmacy

(334) 844-8360

Dr. Garza is an assistant professor in the Department of Health Outcomes Research and Policy in the Harrison School of Pharmacy. She also serves as chair of the AUFSI Obesity Working Group and as a member of the Alabama Obesity Task Force. Kimberly’s research involves application of behavioral economic theory to study preventative health behaviors, including medication adherence, diet, and physical activity. Specifically, she is interested in incentive systems that help people engage in and maintain preventive health behaviors.

Misty Edmondson

Associate Professor, Farm Animal Department of Clinical Sciences

(334) 844-4490

Dr. Misty Edmondson is an assistant professor in the food animal section of the College of Veterinary Medicine, where her duties include management of clinical hospital cases, didactic teaching, research, and outreach. Her major research interest is theriogenology of cattle, small ruminants, and camelids.

Terry Hanson

Professor & Extension Specialist

Terry Hanson is a professor and extension specialist in the School of Fisheries, Aquaculture, and Aquatic Sciences.  His extension program includes the broad umbrella “Pond-to-Plate” project that addresses the needs of the U.S. and Alabama farm-raised catfish industries. He is also a member of the AUFSI Aquaponics Working Group, which has received over $1 million in federal funding over the last few years.

Tung-Shi Huang

Professor, Food Science

(334) 844-3290

Dr. Huang focuses on food safety and the development of biosensors to detect foodborne pathogens.


Kathy Lawrence


Kathy Lawrence is a professor of entomology and plant pathology. Her areas of expertise are soil borne and foliar fungal diseases, specifically plant parasitic nematodes and fungi attacking field crops, vegetables and ornamentals with emphasis on nematode and fungal pathogen interactions, and host-pathogen relationships in the natural environment.

Ken Macklin

Associate Professor, Poultry Science, College of Agriculture

(334) 844-4225

Dr. Macklin’s research interests include the reduction of foodborne bacteria through the use of feed additives and the safe handling and disposal of poultry litter.

Emefa Monu

Assistant Professor, Microbiology, College of Agriculture

(334) 844-2599

Dr. Emefa Monu comes to Auburn from the University of Tennessee, where she was completing post-doctoral studies. Her goal as a researcher is to improve food security through increasing the microbiological safety and shelf life of food.

Amit Morey

Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist, Poultry Science

(334) 844-8480

Dr. Amit Morey is interested in food safety, shelf-life, post harvest processing technologies, product development and storage, and spoilage microbiology.

Annie Newton Kirby

Assistant Professor, Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine

(334) 442-4010

Dr. Newton is the dietitian in the AU Pharmaceutical Care Center. She is also an assistant professor at the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine and has been a registered dietitian nutritionist for five years. Annie’s current research interests include preventative lifestyle behaviors, with specific interest in identifying and intervening with at-risk populations (e.g., pre-diabetic individuals, children with developmental disabilities, and geriatric patients) in order to prevent obesity and disease progression, thereby improving their overall quality of life.

Bob Norton

Professor, Poultry Science College of Agriculture

(334) 844-7562

Dr. Norton is an expert on data mining and database management. He has recently been named Director of the University’s new Open Source Intelligence Laboratory.

Stephanie Ostrowski

Associate Professor, Department of Pathobiology, College of Veterinary Medicine

(334) 844-2722

Dr. Ostrowski is an associate professor of public health in the Department of Pathobiology in the College of Veterinary Medicine. She serves as lead faculty coordinator for DVM+MPH combined degree program options with Auburn’s partner programs at the University of Minnesota (Veterinary MPH program) and the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She also provides public health career counseling to undergraduates, veterinary students, and post-graduate DVMs. Stephanie’s research interests include public health/one health, herd health; food animal medicine and surgery; agricultural sustainability; epidemiology; emerging infectious diseases; equine sports medicine; CBRNE preparedness and response; and food safety, including antimicrobial resistance.

Stuart Price

Associate Professor, Department of Pathology, College of Veterinary Medicine

(334) 844-2673

Dr. Price is an associate professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine’s Department of Pathobiology. His lab studies the molecular basis of bacterial pathogenesis, with a focus on pathogens that cause foodborne illness.

Elizabeth Schwartz

Assistant Professor, Biological Sciences, College of Sciences and Mathematics

(334) 844-1631

Elizabeth Schwartz is an assistant professor of biological sciences in the College of Sciences and Mathematics. Schwartz has a longstanding interest in the foodborne bacterial pathogen Listeria monocytogenes and in the innate immune responses elicited by this organism.


Charles Starkey

Assistant Professor, Department of Poultry Science

(334) 844-4136

Dr. Starkey is an assistant professor in the Department of Poultry Science and chair of the Animal Food Manufacturing, Quality, and Safety Working Group at AUFSI. He previously served as director of technical services at American Proteins, Inc. in Cumming, Georgia. Charles was named American Feed Industry Association’s Member of the Year in 2015. His research focuses on connecting all aspects of animal food ingredient characteristics, dietary formulations, animal food manufacturing techniques, live animal performance, and gastrointestinal tract physiology and health.

Jessica Starkey

Assistant Professor

Jessica Starkey is an assistant professor of poultry science in the College of Agriculture. Her research is centered around exploring the impact of nutrition and management strategies on the cellular and molecular regulation of skeletal muscle development and growth.


Bill Walton

Associate Professor & Extension Specialist

William Walton is an associate professor and extension specialist in the School of Fisheries, Aquaculture, and Aquatic Sciences. His work focuses primarily on issues related to marine invertebrate aquaculture as well as fisheries management and restoration.

Chengming Wang

Professor, Department of Pathobiology

(334) 844-2601

Dr. Wang is a professor in the Department of Pathobiology.  He previously worked at Yangzhou University College of Veterinary Medicine of China as a Jiangsu specially appointed professor (2012-2016). His research interests include molecular diagnostics, pathogenesis of Chlamydia, and transmission mechanisms of vector-borne agents with zoonotic importance.


Yifen Wang

Professor, Biosystems Engineering, College of Engineering

(334) 844-8051​

Dr. Wang is interested in the applied and fundamental study of food engineering and food safety. He was one of 15 food safety authorities on the Beijing Olympic Food Safety Expert Committee before the 2008 Olympics. His current research involves extracting the bioactive element fucoxanthine from algae and, after the extraction, utilizing the rest of the algae in a sustainable way. Fucoxanthine may possibly be used to control obesity and diabetes.

Jean Weese

Professor, Food Science, College of Agriculture

(334) 844-3269

Dr. Weese researches food safety issues in the food processing and food service industries. A food safety specialist for the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, she also helps aspiring entrepreneurs navigate a maze of regulations. She has worked with school lunch programs to add more fresh fruits and vegetables as well as whole grains to the menu.

Daniel Wells

Assistant Professor, Horticulture, College of Agriculture

(334) 844-4824

Daniel Wells’ research program is focused on specialty crop production systems in Alabama, and was recommended to the faculty because of his interest in local foods production.

Jim Witte

Professor, Adult Education, College of Education

(334) 844-3054

Dr. James E. Witte is the program coordinator for adult education programs in the College of Education. His academic areas of interest include training program development and evaluation as well as how learning is assessed. He is an avid world traveler, having lived and worked in places such as Pakistan, Central and South America, Europe, the Middle East and Japan. His multicultural, multilingual background brings a unique perspective to examining how people acquire skills and information.

Michelle Worosz

Associate Professor, Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology, College of Agriculture, Auburn University


Dr. Worosz researches economic viability in rural settings. She focuses on barriers and constraints to increasing production and consumption of local and regional products.

Pei Xu

Assistant Professor, Business Analytics, College of Business, Auburn University

(334) 844-6513

Pei Xu brings expertise in “big data” to the core faculty with the ability to effectively evaluate a wide variety of business issues by using data to apply quantitative techniques for decision-making.