Research

As a land-grant institution, Auburn University has a long history of doing practical research and communicating the results of that research to the public. Research activities are located across campus, from fishponds and research labs on the north side of Auburn to the National Center for Asphalt Technology track on the south.

Auburn University also staffs the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Stations and Extension offices around the state. Auburn has a meat processing facility as well as USDA labs and a partnership in a pilot produce processing facility in Chilton County, Al., and a feed mill.

The food system encompasses every aspect of the complicated, interrelated system to feed a population, including growing, harvesting, processing, packaging, transporting, marketing, consumption and disposal of food and food-related items.

Research is ongoing into both food quality and food safety, and a complete center is dedicated to developing efficient ways to monitor food for dangerous pathogens. Auburn has engineers looking for ways to recycle poultry litter as a fuel source. Auburn even has its own hotel and restaurant where students learn about the hospitality business, thanks to an innovative partnership with the West Paces Hotel Group.

Auburn’s commitment to advancing research is best exemplified by the Center for Advanced Science, Innovation and Commerce (CASIC), now under construction in the university’s Research Park. The $14.4 million dollar facility, with 68,000 square feet of space and 21 labs, will contain five multidisciplinary research clusters, bringing scientists together from a variety of disciplines across campus. CASIC research clusters will be devoted to food safety, aquaculture development and sustainability, water and environmental quality and bioenergy technologies.

Project Teams

AUFSI organizes and maintains numerous Working Groups, which are targeted research groups consisting of AUFSI core faculty and other interested faculty campus wide. 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 crappre@auburn.edu.

Current working groups

 

Animal Food Manufacturing & Safety

This 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. For more information, contact contact Regina Crapps at (334) 844-7456 or crappre@auburn.edu

Antibiotic Alternatives Working Group

This group is interested in identifying alternatives to the non-therapeutic use of antibiotics in the raising of food animals. 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. To learn more, contact Sue Duran at (334) 844-6722 or duransh@auburn.edu.

Aquaponics Working Group

The Aquaponics Working Group brings together researchers from fisheries, horticulture, and biosystems engineering to study aquaponics, called “the future of farming” because of its highly efficient use of water to grow both fish and produce. AU Tiger Dining is also an partner, getting year-round access to high-value products in return for a reasonable investment. Researchers in turn get to study a working model that otherwise would be too expensive to operate. For more information, contact Terry Hanson at (334) 844-9207 or trh0008@auburn.edu.

Food Entrepreneur Working Group

The Food Entrepreneur Working Group brings together faculty members and others interested in helping budding food entrepreneurs. Faculty from animal sciences, fisheries and aquaculture, food science and business join with representatives of the SBA’s Small Business Development Center to sponsor conferences where aspiring entrepreneurs learn about labeling, regulations, business plans, marketing and finding financing. Their next project is to establish a web-based portal. To learn more, contact Jean Weese at (334) 844-7456 or weesesj@auburn.edu.

Food & Water Defense Working Group

Criminals or terrorists could score a big victory by tampering with the U.S. food supply. This group is zeroing in on research and education to address the potential threat and so far includes members from Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine as well as Arizona State University. Members have been writing articles on the subject for the trade press, and the group’s website includes a Food Defense blog with the latest news about food safety, food security and food defense. For more information, contact Bob Norton at (334) 844-7562 or nortora@auburn.edu .

Food Safety, Quality, & Integrated Health

The Food Safety, Quality, and Integrated Health research team falls under the Integrated Food and Human Health System in the College of Agriculture and is led by Dr. Christy Bratcher. Our research focuses on interdisciplinary approaches to improving the safety and quality of food, beginning with the growth and production of food to processing, packaging, and selling it. Team members also look at how practices and interventions within all these areas of the food system ultimately impact human health.

Obesity Working Group

This group consists of faculty members and community partners interested in obesity prevention. The group also provides a forum for faculty and community partners to share their research, outreach, or educational activities related to obesity prevention. 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 contact Kimberly Garza at (334) 844-8360 or kbl0005@auburn.edu.

Salmonella Working Group

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 pricesb@auburn.edu.