JIFSAN 2023-24 Intern Class Notes and Activities

Attending conferences, presenting posters, co-authoring publications and manuscripts—these are just some of the activities and accomplishments that JIFSAN Interns have participated in or completed this 2023-24 academic year as they bridge the gap between classroom and real-world professional experience through their paid internships working at various U.S. FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) worksites. Read on below for some “class notes” from a few of our outstanding 2023-24 JIFSAN interns:

Akshaya Balaji at 2023 International Associaton for Food Protection conference in Toronto, Ontario.

Akshaya Balaji (Group photo: third from left) was awarded a Travel Scholarship to attend the annual IAFP (International Association for Food Protection) conference in July 2023 where she presented a poster on her research with E. coli extraction methods. IAFP is an organization of over 4,000 food safety professionals committed to advancing food safety worldwide—Akshaya credits her mentor Dr. Julie Ann Kase and her project team for enabling her to have the wonderful opportunity of networking and collaborating with other food safety leading experts and professionals. Congrats, Akshaya!

Tanya Gupta presenting poster: How FDA's Tech-Eanbled Traceability Initiative Improves Outbreak Investigations.

Tanya Gupta attended the January 2024 InFORM (Integrated Foodborne Outbreak Response and Management) conference held in Washington, D.C. where she presented her poster on FDA’s Tech-Enabled Traceability Initiative. Tanya’s FDA mentor, Dr. Adam Friedlander shares that Tanya has developed important resources for FDA’s New Era of Smarter Food Safety objectives, including contributing to a traceability technology video series and creating presentation posters. Tanya continues to demonstrate strong collaboration and research skills among her colleagues in the FDA Coordinated Outbreak Response and Evaluation (CORE) Office. Congrats, Tanya!

Victoria Hadden Cribelar, as part of the CFSAN Office of Food Safety, Retail Food Policy Team with mentor Laurie Williams, has drafted, developed, and published a factsheet based on a new defined term featured in the FDA Food Code for “In-shell Product” molluscan shellfish. You can find Victoria’s work at the FDA’s 2022 Food Code site as well as a direct link to the factsheet. Additionally, Victoria has contributed to the development of this resource webpage for FDA. These resources make it possible for agencies and industries to regulate the retail food and foodservice industries in the United States, such as restaurants, grocery stores, vending machines, cafeterias, and other outlets in healthcare facilities, schools, and correctional facilities. Great work, Victoria!

Kelsey Meis' poster about her JIFSAN internship: Internal App Dev, User Interface, Problem Solving, Communication, Connection. In the corner is a photo of Kelsey at an Office of Compliance luncheon.

Kelsey Meis has been working closely with her mentor Dr. Jamie Hughes as well as Compliance Officers in the FDA to build and improve web applications powered by the Microsoft product suite for internal use. She wants to bring ease of access to managers and team members alike in the department, granting seamless user experiences in retrieving and analyzing needed data. Kelsey shares, “These experiences have helped me grow in many technical areas; I have learned to prioritize development tasks, communicate my progress, and troubleshoot problems by referencing Microsoft documentation and online guides. The departmental value of connection in the Office of Compliance has made me feel very welcome, and I have been able to attend events in the area, professional trainings, and interesting webinars. I am excited to continue building out these products and refine my own processes and style as a software developer." Well done, Kelsey!

Chiara Santoro with Dr. Yi Chen and fellow labmate present their poster: Evaluation of Revised FDA Bacteriological Analytical Manual (BAM) Method for the Detection of Cronobacter using Retail Powdered Infant Formula Samples.

Chiara Santoro (Photo: Far left) credits her internship with providing her with the opportunity to learn new techniques, such as aerobic plate counting, qPCR, Vitek 2, and how to create a bacterial growth curve experimentally. One of her favorite memories of her internship thus far, aside from getting to know and working with her mentor Dr. Yi Chen and her lab teammates, has been participating in the NCAC-SOT and CFSAN Joint Fall Symposium. Chiara presented a poster on a research project she had spearheaded over the summer and was awarded third place for her project. She has enjoyed stepping out of her comfort zone to try something new, proving to herself that she has the skills necessary to succeed in a research space. Chiara is also a selected outstanding student whose internship is supported by the Rosina Barone JIFSAN Educational Fund. The Rosina Barone Fund provides additional funding to JIFSAN’s internship program, enabling undergraduate students to receive support for educational, experiential, and professional opportunities.

Risa Verma and her mentor Dr. Laura Markley in front of a poster for FDA Student Scientific Research Day 2023.

Risa Verma, one of JIFSAN’s continuing interns, has contributed to several presentations and posters since she began interning in 2022. Pictured above, Risa (right) and her mentor Dr. Laura Markley (left) attended the FDA 2023 Annual Student Scientific Research Day to present her poster on the “Hazard Identification of Printing Ink Substances Used on the Exterior of Food Packaging” to fellow students and researchers at FDA. She shares that it was “a memorable experience where I had the chance to discuss my findings with experts in the field of toxicology and learn about what other students were researching in different centers of the FDA.” Outstanding work, Risa! See below for a list of her publications and presentations:

− Markley LC, Verma R, Arvidson K, Chen T-F, Bandele O. Mutagenicity Predictions for Hazard Prioritization of Photoinitiators used in Printing Inks on the Exterior of Food Packaging. SOT 63rd Annual Meeting and Tox Expo, March 2024. Salt Lake City, UT.

Verma R, Markley LC, Bandele OJ. Hazard Identification of Printing Ink Substances Used on the Exterior of Food Packaging. NCAC-SOT and CFSAN Joint Fall 2023 Symposium. College Park, MD. November 2, 2023.

− Markley LC, Verma R, Bandele OJ. Hazard Identification of Printing Ink Substances Used on the Exterior of Food Packaging. 2023 FDA Science Forum. Silver Spring, MD. June 2023. Online at:

− Markley LC, Verma R, Bandele OJ. Hazard Identification of Printing Ink Substances Used on the Exterior of Food Packaging. FDA 2023 Annual Student Scientific Research Day. August 10, 2023. Abstract online at:

− Markley LC, Verma R, Bandele OJ. In Silico Genotoxicity Predictions for the Hazard Assessment of Photoinitiators Used in Food Packaging. Genetic Toxicology Association, May 2023. Newark, DE.

Cynthia Xi with her poster: The Impact of Live Microbials and Emulsifiers on Gut Epithelial Barrier Integrity and Function.

Cynthia Xi has taken part in several events. She attended the 2023 FDA Annual Student Scientific Research Day (ASSRD) at the White Oak Campus, an annual forum which showcases and recognizes the importance of mentor-led student research and enables students to present their projects. Cynthia’s poster presentation was on “The Impact of Live Microbials and Emulsifiers on Gut Epithelial Barrier Integrity and Function”—She went on to present the same poster at the 2023 FDA NCAC-SOT Fall Symposium, a joint symposium on toxicology/biology/risk assessment, hosted between the National Capital Area Regional Chapter of the Society of Toxicology and FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN). Cynthia applied for the undergraduate abstract award at the latter event and won first place! Cynthia couldn’t attend the symposium in person but her mentor, Dr. Sefat Khuda, attended in her stead. Lastly, Cyntha is currently working on a presentation for the 2024 Annual Meeting of the Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP). Congratulations, Cynthia!

JIFSAN interns like the students above represent the cadre of excellence we strive for in our internship program—JIFSAN is so pleased to be able to continue this longstanding program with the U.S. FDA to educate and provide real-world experience to undergraduate students.

If you are a University of Maryland, College Park undergrad and are interested in the JIFSAN Internship program, we are currently accepting applications for 2024-25 Internship Projects.

Please visit our Internship Program page for more information or write to jifsan@umd.edu with any questions.