Speakers

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Abigail Appleman
Hispanic Outreach Technician
USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service in Pennsylvania.

Abigail works to ensure that all producers, including Hispanic and Historically underserved producers, are aware of and have access to the assistance available through the USDA-NRCS. Previously, Abigail was a social studies and Spanish teacher. She has also worked for the Pennsylvania Migrant Education Program and with CENFOL in Maracaibo, Venezuela.

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David Beyer, PhD
Professor, Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology
Penn State University
David works with the mushroom community here in North America and Europe. His grower education extension program develops and conducts workshops and farm visits to provide assistance on many different aspects of mushroom cultivation. The focus of his research is looking at cultural factors influencing disease development to help minimize the impact of mushroom diseases and screening existing and potential new fungicides to maintain and improve the efficiency of the few pesticides the industry have left in their arsenal.
Websites:
David Beyer
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Carolee Bull, PhD
Head/Professor, Department of Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology
Penn State University

Originally a Pennsylvania native, Dr. Bull graduated with a degree in Botany at Ohio University in 1985. Work with a mycologist and courses in mycology and microbiology transformed her interest in botany to a passion for plant pathology. She received an MS in Plant Pathology from Washington State University in 1987, and a PhD in Plant Pathology from Oregon State University in 1992. Her work on biological control of plant pathogens and phytobacteriology continued as a NSF Postdoctoral Fellow in Switzerland. For the past 20 years she worked for the USDA?ARS in California to develop alternatives to chemical pesticides for vegetable and small fruit production. Dr. Bull served on the Administrative Council for the Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program and was key to the development of organic research programs at the USDA/ARS. For outstanding mentorship women and Latino student research interns, she received the Secretary's Honor Award (the highest award service to the nation in agriculture) from the USDA Secretary Thomas Vilsack. 

Websites:
Carolee Bull
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Kevin Cloonan, PhD
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Tradd Cotter
Mushroom Mountain LLC
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Phillip Coles
VP, Compliance & Strategy
Giorgi Mushroom Company
Phil Coles holds a BS in Entomology from Penn State, an MBA from Lehigh University and an MS in Applied Economics and Management from Cornell University. He has worked in the mushroom industry for over 35 years, taught and published on a variety of agricultural science and business topics, including a handbook on book on mushroom IPM, and in addition currently teaches Agricultural Business at Penn State Berks.
 
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John de Soto
M.S. Student
Penn State University
Websites:
John de Soto
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Gale Ferranto
President
Buona Foods, Inc.
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Michael Fidanza, PhD
Associate Professor, Horticulture
Penn State University
Websites:
Michael Fidanza
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Siyi Ge
Graduate Student
Penn State University
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Maria Gorgo-Gourovitch
Latino Community Outreach Coordinator
Penn State Extension, PA IPM Program
Ms. Gorgo-Gourovitch is the Food Safety, IPM and Water Quality Extension Educator for Chester and Berks counties. Maria conducts educational programs in the areas of vegetable, small fruit and mushrooms production; green industry; IPM solutions, FSMA, GAP and farm food safety; beginning farming and pesticide safety for various agricultural industries in Pennsylvania. Maria is also adapting new, culturally appropriate trainings and outreach materials and assessing the needs of the Latino Community. She recently worked for USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service as a Soil Conservationist assisting farm owners in the planning, application and maintenance of a variety of agronomic and engineering practices. She also previously worked for Penn State Extension until January 2015 where she served as outreach coordinator, educator and trainer for the PA IPM, Farm Safety and Food Safety Programs.
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David Iaconi
President
Mushroom Supply & Services, and Ag Solutions, Inc.
Websites:
Ag Solutions, Inc.
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Nina Jenkins, PhD
Senior Research Associate
Penn State University
Websites:
Nina Jenkins
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Alicia Kerber
Head Consul
Mexican Consulate of Philadelphia
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Meghan Klotzbach
Mother Earth Organic Mushrooms
Meghan is a fifth generation member of the Yeatman Family. She graduated from Dickinson College in 2008 and has worked for Mother Earth Organic Mushrooms since 2012. She began her journey working with the Quality Assurance Department, taking on many projects for Food Safety and Food Defense. She now holds the title of Regulatory Manager, specializing in Organic Certification, Employee Safety, OSHA and Human Resources Compliance for their Farms and Packing facility. 
 
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Lise Korsten, PhD
Professor, Department of Plant and Soil Sciences
University of Pretoria, South Africa

Professor Korsten is currently the Co-Director within the Department of Science and Technology, Centre of Excellence Food Security. She is also responsible for the food safety and regulatory control programs within the DST Centre of Excellence Food Security. She is a chief editor of Crop Protection and is chairing the International Society for Plant Pathology Task Force on Global Food Security.

Professor Korsten has focused her research mainly on complementary fields of post harvest technology and food safety as related to international trade in fresh produce. She has been able to establish research teams in food safety, post harvest pathology, biocontrol and mushroom and fruit health. As a team they have been able to develop several innovative technologies to reduce diseases and prevent product contamination. The value of her research programs can best be illustrated by sustainable industry financial support. She has been able to attract extensive national and international long term funding such as the Water Research Commission solicited research projects “An investigation into the link between water quality and microbiological safety of fruit and vegetables from the farming to the processing stages of production and marketing” and “Evaluation of the risks associated with the use of rain water harvested from roof-tops for domestic use and homestead food gardens, and groundwater for domestic use and livestock watering” as well as the 7th EU Framework project “Impact of climate change and globalization on safety of fresh produce – governing a supply chain of uncompromised food sovereignty.

Professor Korsten has also developed one of the first biocontrol products in South Africa in 1992 that was patented, registered and commercialized and is still used in the fruit industry. An alternative mushroom casing material has also been developed by her team using waste products that has since been licensed for commercial production.

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Luke LaBorde, PhD
Professor
Department of Food Science, Penn State University

His current research interests include finding ways to minimize contamination of produce packing houses and food processing facilities with Listeria monocytogenes and other harmful microorganisms.  Luke's extension activities center on food safety and sanitation curriculum development for agricultural producers, packers, and processors of fresh and minimally processed produce. Most recently, his activities have included assisting the Pennsylvania food industry meet new regulatory requirements issued under the U.S. Food Safety Modernization Act.

Websites:
Luke LaBorde
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Steven Loerch, PhD
Senior Associate Dean, College of Agricultural Sciences
Penn State University
Steve Loerch obtained his B.S. degree in Animal Industries from Penn State in 1977 and received his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Ruminant Nutrition at the University of Illinois in 1978 and 1981, respectively.  In 1981, he joined the Animal Sciences faculty at The Ohio State University with primary responsibilities in beef cattle research and teaching.  Steve left Ohio State in 2014 to become Head of Animal Sciences at the University of Illinois. In August 2017 he and his wife Karen returned home to Penn State where Steve serves in his current role as Senior Associate Dean in the College of Agricultural Sciences. His favorite food is a Philly cheesesteak piled high with grilled Pennsylvania mushrooms!
 
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Maria Mazin
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Rebecca Miller
Giorgi Mushroom Company
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Paul Patterson, PhD
Professor of Poultry Science
Penn State University
The central theme of Dr. Patterson's extension and research programs is environmental poultry management. Efforts focus on discovering and promoting efficient poultry production systems that place minimum burden on the environment. While managing manure and by-products of poultry production are obvious endeavors, less tangible efforts include the impact of odor, flies, traffic, etc., on the environment at the urban-rural interface. The later impacts are important to the sustainability of poultry production and processing enterprises in Pennsylvania. Other efforts are geared to enhancing producer profitability and improving egg production, quality, and food safety.

Research efforts have focused on environmental poultry management with an emphasis on applied studies that go hand in hand with the extension programs. As a nutritionist I have sought to recycle the nutrients of poultry by-products to both crop and livestock systems to abate non-point sources of pollution. These efforts benefit small poultry farmers, corporate agriculture, and ultimately the public at large.
Websites:
Paul Patterson
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John Pecchia, PhD
Assistant Professor & Research Associate, Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology
Penn State University
Websites:
John Pecchia
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Geoff Price
Technical Director
Giorgi Mushroom Company
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Greg Roth, PhD
Professor of Agronomy
Penn State University
Dr. Greg Roth is a Professor in the Department of Plant Science and has an 75% extension/ 25% research appointment focusing on grain crop management. He has been a member of the faculty at Penn State since 1989. He has a B.S. and Ph.D. in Agronomy from Penn State University and a M.S. from Virginia Tech. In his position as the extension grain crops specialist, he develops educational programs for extension agents, agribusiness groups and producers on timely issues such as potential of corn hybrids for silage production, small grains for forage production and management tactics for corn for silage. His research has complemented his extension program, and is often targeting issues at the plant/animal interface in the diversified agriculture in Pennsylvania. He helps to direct the Penn State variety evaluation trials for corn, corn silage, wheat, soybeans and barley. He has also led the development and commercialization of an interseeding machine to expand the potential of cover cropping for corn and soybeans.
Websites:
Greg Roth
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Richard Rush
Director of Safety
South Mill Mushroom Sales
Richard Rush has been employed since April, 2011, as the Safety Director for Kaolin / South Mill Mushrooms, located in Kennett Square, PA. Besides working closely with Kaolin / South Mill Management to ensure a safe workplace environment for all employees, he is also actively involved with the MESH Safety Committee in promoting safety within the mushroom industry.
 
Websites:
South Mill
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Nazareth Siyoum, PhD
Postdoctoral Research, Department of Plant and Soil Sciences
University of Pretoria

She coordinates the UP-SAMFA mushroom research program and is responsible for research and student co-supervision. Dr. Nazareth Siyoum obtained an MSc degree in Plant Pathology from the University of Natal and a PhD degree in Plant Pathology from the University of Pretoria, South Africa. She worked on the microbial ecology of casing soil materials, compost and white button mushrooms for her PhD and graduated in 2013. She published two peer reviewed articles and a number of papers for the South African mushroom industry journal, The Spawn Run.

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Yijia Sun
Undergraduate, Industrial Engineering
Penn State University
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Yinong Yang, PhD
Professor, Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology
Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences at the Pennsylvania State University

Dr. Yang received a BS in biology from Hangzhou University, an MS in botany from University of South Florida, and a PhD in plant molecular and cellular biology from University of Florida. After a postdoctoral position in Waksman Institute at Rutgers University, he became an assistant and associate professor at the University of Arkansas. He joined the faculty at Penn State in 2006 and has been working on the molecular mechanisms of plant-microbe interactions and genome engineering of agricultural crops such as rice and mushroom.

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Consuela Gondres Medrano
Giorgi Mushroom Company
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