MSU assistant professor is bringing novel approaches to food safety engineering

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Jiyoon YiPublished: January 19, 2023

Jiyoon Yi, Ph.D., joined Michigan State University (MSU)’s Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering (BAE) as an assistant professor in January 2023.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service, there were 47 recalls, totaling over 15 million pounds of food, in 2021. While there have been many improvements in food safety, Yi has seen an opportunity to improve food processing and control systems and make food safer. “Food safety/security, public health, and sustainability are global missions as we need to nourish a projected population of 10 billion by 2050.” said Yi.

Yi’s research focuses on novel techniques to advance food safety and security by combining physics-based and data-driven modeling with experimental methods. Her research primarily aims to automate and accelerate food process control using data and increasing resource efficiency. 

Yi says that current research showed that many methods of reducing pathogens in food systems are not as effective as expected. She has begun examining food processing and control technologies to find ways to improve food safety from farm to fork.  

Yi’s current projects use image-based sensors to take microscopic pictures of foodborne pathogens to determine their presence in food matrices. She uses artificial intelligence (AI) techniques to distinguish between pathogens and commensal microbes or background food matrices. This will allow the image-based sensors to tell apart harmful pathogens in a timely manner and inform the food processing plant whether their method of reducing pathogens is effective.  

Yi is excited to bring her skills to MSU. “Conventional pathogen detection methods are time- and labor-intensive, requiring skilled personnel. To this, my current work will develop a low-cost, AI-enabled sensing platform that automates and accelerates pathogen detection in food and agricultural systems.”