Kathryn J. Boor is Ronald P. Lynch Dean of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University. Dr. Boor served as Professor and Chair of the Department of Food Science at Cornell University (2007-2010). Dr. Boor earned a BS in Food Science from Cornell University and an MS in Food Science from the University of Wisconsin. She conducted research for two years in Kenya, East Africa, as a member of a multi-disciplinary team working with small-scale farmers to enhance sustainable and safe goat milk production and preservation systems, then earned her PhD in Microbiology in 1994 at the University of California, Davis. She established the Food Safety Laboratory as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Food Science at Cornell University in 1994. Presently, research in her laboratory is funded by the National Institutes of Health, the United States Department of Agriculture and the New York State Milk Promotion Advisory Board. Dr. Boor serves on the editorial boards for Applied and Environmental Microbiology and Foodborne Pathogens and Disease. She is scientific advisor for the New York State Cheese ManufacturersÕ Association and past president of the New York State Association for Food Protection. She served on the National Academy of Science/Institute of Medicine Committee on Review of the Use of Scientific Criteria and Performance Standards for Safe Food (December 2001- May 2003) and the National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods. She received the 2000 USDA Honor Award as a member of the Listeria Outbreak Working Group, the 2000 Foundation Scholar Award and the 2006 DeLaval Award for Dairy Extension programming, both from the American Dairy Science Association, and the 2002 Samuel Cate Prescott award for outstanding research from the Institute of Food Technologists. Dr. Boor is a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, the International Academy of Food Science and Technology and the Institute of Food Technologists.
The increasingly competitive nature of the food and beverage market highlights the need for improvement of dairy product quality, variety, and availability to ensure the economic vitality of the dairy industry. To work toward meeting these challenges, I have established an integrated research and extension program in dairy microbiology quality and safety which is dedicated to improving dairy product shelf-life, wholesomeness and safety through reduction of spoilage and pathogenic bacteria in processed products and in raw milk. The long-term objective of this program is the creation of an integrated and interactive University/regulatory agency/dairy industry network to protect dairy product safety and quality. The specific foci of my research program are to identify and characterize factors that affect the presence and persistence of spoilage and pathogenic organisms in food products intended for human consumption. My strategies integrate the tools of molecular biology and phenotypic microbiology to: (i) explore factors linking the ability of bacteria to survive under various conditions, including in foods and in food processing environments, with bacterial ability to cause human and animal disease; and (ii) rapidly identify and track spoilage and pathogenic bacteria in food systems. My program targets the long-term food quality and safety needs of the food and dairy processing industries and facilitates rapid translation and communication of research results to these industries. The major impacts from these programs will be (i) continued discovery and application of new information for production of high quality, wholesome dairy and food products; (ii) an improved understanding of the cellular mechanisms contributing to bacterial survival under widely varying environmental conditions; and (iii) training of highly qualified students for employment in dairy- and food-related sectors of industry, government, and academia.
Outreach and Extension Focus
The dairy foods extension team specializes in delivering research driven, science-based educational programs for all sectors of the NYS and Northeastern dairy foods industry, from farm to consumer. The Milk Quality Improvement Program, which is funded by NYS dairy farmer check-off dollars, works in collaboration with the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets to provide a multi-pronged, non-regulatory, educational approach for improving dairy product quality. Cornell food scientists sample and evaluate the microbiological, sensory, and chemical characteristics of fluid milk products manufactured in processing plants throughout New York State and provide timely and direct feedback, including plant visits for targeted trouble-shooting, to enable product quality improvement by visiting each plant in NYS twice a year. Impact and success are measured by monitoring the numbers of plants participating in our program as well as changes in the measured quality of the products that are sampled. Cornell also coordinates programs for dairy industry professionals through the New York State Cheese Manufacturers’ Association, the New York State Association for Food Protection, the American Dairy Science Association, and the International Association for Food Protection. Impact and success are monitored by tracking numbers of attendees over the years as well as by surveying program participants.
Awards and Honors
- Research Award in Dairy Foods Processing () The American Dairy Sciences Association
- Honorary Doctorate (2016) Harper Adams University, United Kingdom
- Emmett R. Gauhn Memorial Award (2012) New York State Association for Food Protection
- David K. Bandler Cheese Industry Award (2011) New York State Cheese Manufacturers’ Association
- Fellow, Biological Sciences (2016) American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)