January 14, 2005
By Shyunti Das
Assistant Professor Trevor Phister spoke about food microbiology as part of the Dean Seminar Series Jan. 12 in the Living Arts Lounge. Phister joined Drexel University in 2004, and teaches microbiology in the College of Arts and Sciences.
In his lecture, titled “Studies in Food Microbiology from Foodborne Illness to Why Your Wine Smells like a Wet Dog”, he spoke about the subsets of food microbiology, including food safety, fermentations and biotechnology, as well as his own specific research interests.
Phister explained how pathogens such as Listeria monocytogenes and Campylobacter jejuni cause foodborne illnesses in food such as cheese, cold cuts, vegetables and poutry.
Interaction between bacteria are often responsible for whether or not a bacteria survives in these food.
The specific interactions Phister studies are known as quorum sensing, which can allow bacteria to adapt to new conditions, and can hopefully be manipulated to prevent infections.
He also spoke about the subject of his Ph.D. thesis in food science from the Unniversity of of Minnesota, which involved the Mexican corn pozol.
Pozol is fermented by the indiginous people of Mexico and is known to remove toxins, improve nutritional value and affect the taste and has also been used medicinally. Phister worked to isolate specific antimicrobials that were responsible for these properties.
Phister detailed the process of fermenting wine, highlighting the yeast, bacteria and molds used in the various steps, followed by an explaination of the laboratory techniques used to do analysis of fermentations.
The Dean Seminar Series was instituted by Dean of College of Art and Sciences Donna Murasko.
In its third academic year, the series is designed to allow new faculty to present their research interests to the rest of the college and promote collaborations between different faculty and departments of the college.