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Megan Lang

Undergraduate Research: Food Safety

Major(s): Junior in Food Science/Bacteriology

Research area: Food safety

"I study how toxic bacteria enter and survive in food. I am developing highly sensitive methods for detecting these toxic bacteria in apple cider and in beef. My goal is to provide affordable and rapid tests that will allow all farmers to meet food safety standards so our food supply is safer for everyone."

Why did you choose to pursue a research project?

I thought it would be a great opportunity to see what food science is like. I had a vague idea that it meant working with food, but I had no clue that I could work in specific areas such as chemistry and biology. Now I know that I really enjoy applying bacteriology in the study of food safety.

Would your experience as an undergraduate have been different if you had not done research?

Yes, I am getting different things out of my classes as result of being involved with research. Before, I would have been more concerned with learning lab techniques in class and now I am more interested in learning scientific writing. Research made me more interested in my classes. Now I feel I want to learn; I want to study.

What did you accomplish in your research?

My biggest accomplishment has been getting all the freedom I've been given in my projects: I've been involved in all aspects of planning of my research. Before I did research I wasn't considering a Ph.D. but now I know I would like to be the one who directs research, the one who comes up with the ideas. Also, I have written a paper on my research that we are submitting for publication. Finally, I feel I am more marketable to industry and graduate programs.