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K-State Today

January 29, 2024

Vipham honored by State Department for research in global food safety

Submitted by Dena Bunnel

Jessie Vipham (far right) with the other ASPIRE winner (Nicole Yunger Halpern, University of Maryland) and runner-up (Payman Dehghanian, George Washington University).

Jessie Vipham, associate professor of food safety in the department of animal sciences and industry, was honored by the U.S. State Department's Office of Science and Technology Cooperation as runner-up for the U.S. APEC Science Prize for Innovation, Research and Education, or ASPIRE, on Jan. 11 in Washington, D.C.

ASPIRE is an annual award hosted by the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation, or APEC, Policy Partnership for Science, Technology and Innovation that recognizes young scientists who have demonstrated a commitment to excellence in scientific research and cross-border collaboration.

"Food safety has a more critical role in enabling economic prosperity than is often recognized," said Vipham. "Human prosperity is directly linked to public health, and the burden of food-borne disease on public health — globally — is often underestimated or underprioritized."

For 2023, the ASPIRE prize focused on innovative research that advances society through the theme of "inclusive science, technology, and innovation for a resilient and sustainable environment." Vipham was named runner-up for the prize for her long-standing and foundational research partnership with the Royal Agricultural University, Institute of Technology and Pasteur Institute in Cambodia to advance understanding of food safety hazards in the vegetable value chain in Cambodia and build institutional capacity of food safety research in-country.

"Since she started her career at K-State, Jessie has developed into a global leader in international food safety research," said Nina Lilja, associate dean for international agricultural programs. "She provides a strong vision for what transformative research combined with thoughtful capacity building can do to reduce the global burden of food-borne disease."

"Diarrheal disease drives infant mortality rates, poor nutritional outcomes, lost wages, medical costs, etc., and these issues are often the most compounded in parts of the world with low economies," said Vipham. "It was exciting to have food safety recognized at a forum like APEC."

In addition to her work in Cambodia, Vipham has had an extensive portfolio of international research in food safety, including in Ethiopia, Paraguay and Bangladesh. The award is co-sponsored by scientific publishers Wiley and Elsevier. As part of her selection as a runner-up, Vipham will receive a $1,200 cash prize.