Director of Scientific Affairs
Dr. Keith Belk

Dr. Belk is a professor and holder of the Ken & Myra Monfort Endowed Chair in Meat Science with the Center for Meat Safety & Quality, Department of Animal Sciences, Colorado State University, and a Professor in the Colorado School of Public Health. He earned a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science degree from CSU, and a PhD from Texas A&M University. He has been employed in the private sector as a buyer by Safeway, Inc., and by the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service in Washington, D.C., as an international marketing specialist. At Colorado State University since 1995, he has authored or co-authored 204 refereed scientific journal articles and over 740 total publications, generated more than $19M in external funding, and was the primary inventor on two patents. He served as the state Meat Extension Specialist between 1995 and 2000, on the editorial board for the Journal of Animal Science in 1997-2000, on the board of directors for the American Meat Science Association (AMSA) between 2003-2005, and as president of AMSA in 2009-2010.

 
Director of Technical Services
Dr. Alex Brandt

Dr. Brandt joined Food Safety Net Services in 2014. Dr. Brandt has expertise in many areas of food processing and production and has a major interest in the molecular biology of foodborne pathogenic bacteria. Dr. Brandt received his Bachelor of Science in Food Science & Technology, and Master of Science in Food Science & Technology from Texas A&M University, and received his PhD in Animal Science (Food Microbiology) from Texas Tech University. In his role with FSNS, Dr. Brandt provides technical and regulatory guidance to clients and assists them in the custom-development and interpretation of microbiological challenge studies, shelf-life studies, modeling studies, and testing method validation studies. Also in his role at FSNS, Dr. Brandt provides educational outreach and training, and assists clients with in-plant services such as pathogen harborage investigations, spoilage organism source investigations, and sanitation evaluations.

 
Technical Services Supervisor
Robert Levy

Mr. Levy joined Food Safety Net Services in 1999 and serves as the Technical Services Supervisor. He graduated from Wayland Baptist University with his Bachelor of Science degree and from the University of Texas at San Antonio with his Master in Environmental Science degree. Prior to joining FSNS, Mr. Levy served 20 years in the United States Army.

 
Science Advisor
Dr. Kendra Nightingale

Dr. Nightingale joined the FSNS Technical faculty in September 2012. Formerly an associate professor in Colorado State University’s Department of Animal Science, her research focuses primarily on pre- and post-harvest food safety. Dr. Nightingale’s work has included a comprehensive understanding of the molecular ecology and transmission dynamics of foodborne pathogens throughout the human food chain, as well as identifying risk factors that contribute to loading of the human food chain with foodborne pathogens and the subsequent spread of these pathogens along the food continuum. She’s also interested in probing the molecular evolution and population structure of human foodborne and animal pathogens, and defining the underlying genetic mechanisms responsible for observed differences in virulence phenotypes within a given pathogen species. Dr. Nightingale received her Bachelor of Science degree in animal science and a Master of Science degree in food science from Kansas State University. She earned her PhD in science and technology from Cornell University.

 
Research Scientist
Dr. Aaron Pleitner

Dr. Pleitner joined Food Safety Net Services in the fall of 2015. He has an extensive background in molecular methods ranging from PCR, PFGE to whole genome sequencing. Dr. Pleitner received his Bachelor of Science degree from Purdue University in Food Science in 2009, his Master of Science in Food Microbiology from the University of Alberta in 2011, and his PhD in Food Science from Purdue University in 2015. His doctoral research involved the use of next-generation sequencing techniques for further characterizing pathogen stress response. Additionally, he designed and conducted course lectures for undergraduate curricula while at Purdue University. Throughout his academic career, Dr. Pleitner gained food industry experience as well while working in quality regulatory operations for General Mills and in microbiology and analytical services at Nestle Nutrition.