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Cardwell named head of national research lab at OSU

Friday, February 3, 2017

Kitty Cardwell was appointed as the new director of the National Institute for Microbial Forensics and Food and Agricultural Biosecurity at Oklahoma State University.

Cardwell comes to NIMFFAB after 15 years as a national program leader and grants administrator with the U.S. Department of Agriculture-National Institute of Food and Agriculture in Washington, D.C.

She succeeded Jacqueline Fletcher, the institute’s founder, March 14.

Cardwell, an expert in plant pathology and food safety, spent three years working in her field of study as a Peace Corps volunteer in Nicaragua and Colombia. After the Peace Corps, she remained in South America eight more years overseeing a large-scale rice farming operation.

Cardwell also aided the fight against hunger in Africa for a dozen years by investigating plant diseases and promoting food safety practices. She joined the USDA in 2001.

As part of its work, NIMFFAB investigates questions such as how crop and animal disease enters a state or how a food-borne pathogen ends up in a food product that is then distributed. Through the use of solid forensic science, the institute also investigates whether these types of incidents are intentional.

In addition, NIMFFAB contributes to the pipeline of professionals and scientists qualified to work in regulatory laboratories such as the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of the USDA, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Food and Drug Administration.

Cardwell earned a bachelor’s degree in botany at the University of Texas, Austin, and earned a master’s degree and doctorate from Texas A&M University.

NIMFFAB, the only institute of its kind in the nation, is part of OSU’s Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. Cardwell’s tenure-home is the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, where she will offer a course.

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