Microbial Validation and Verification Workshop



Melinda Hayman, Ph.D.
Director, Microbiology


Melinda Hayman is a food microbiologist specializing in Food Safety.  Melinda received her Ph.D. in Food Science from the Pennsylvania State University and a B.S. Hons in Microbiology and Biochemistry from the University of Sydney.  Melinda joined GMA in 2012 as Director of Microbiology.  In this role she oversees critical food safety research, supports membership through technical and laboratory services and interacts with many segments of the food industry, as well as the academic and food regulatory communities, in order to track and interpret food safety issues and deliver effective solutions.

Prior to joining GMA, Melinda was the Director of Technical Services at Food Safety Net Services, where she managed Laboratory Quality Systems, Training, Method Validation, and Special Projects.  In addition, Melinda worked as a Food Microbiologist for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in Sydney, Australia.

Richard Podolak, Ph.D.
Senior Scientist, Processing Technologies

Richard assists GMA members with thermal processing recommendations for acidified, water activity controlled food products, process cheese products, food safety and sanitation issues. Dr. Podolak is also an instructor for Better Process Control Schools, the workshop on thermobacteriology and the workshop on thermal processing of acidified foods for FDA inspectors.

Prior to joining GMA in 2004, he worked for the USDA/ARS where he was involved with researching hydrodynamic pressure processing to control pathogens in meat. Richard also served as a senior scientist at the research and development department of a food ingredient company in Wisconsin for more than five years. There he developed microbial starter cultures, antimicrobial agents for meat products and significantly reduced the cost of production through process optimization. He has published numerous articles in scientific journals on the subject of pathogenic bacteria control in food products, especially meat.

Dr. Podolak earned his Ph.D. in food science from Kansas State University.

Ai Kataoka, MS
Associate Scientist, Microbiology

Ai is responsible for conducting scientific research projects in the area of microbiological food safety/stability and laboratory services such as food microbiology testing related to quality control issues and foodborne pathogen screening analysis. 

Ms. Kataoka earned her BS in food science and technology from Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology and MS in food science from Kansas State University.

Elena Enache, Ph.D.
Senior Scientist, Microbiology

Elena is responsible for leading microbiology research and providing innovative food safety solutions to GMA membership.  Dr Enache ensures that GMA’s food safety research aligns with organizational strategic plans, as well as preparing proposals, protocols and reports and conducting research. The following research projects were recently conducted under her leadership: “Heat Resistance of Histamine-Producing Bacteria in Irradiated Tuna Loins” and “Thermal Inactivation and Survival of Salmonella in Food as a Function of Water Activity (aw) and Fat Level.”  Other research interests include survival and heat resistance studies of vegetative pathogens and spoilage organisms in an array of food products.  She also supports GMA membership by providing technical expertise in food safety and microbiology.

Dr. Enache earned her Ph.D. in microbiology from the Institute of Biological Sciences – Central Institute of Biology, Bucharest, and her MS in microbiology and immunology from University of Bucharest, Romania. She is a laureate of Academy Prize “Emanoil Teodorescu” for biological sciences (1986) of the Romanian Academy (the highest scientific distinction in Romania, given once in a lifetime).  Dr. Enache has published more than 16 research articles and book chapters on food safety.

Carla Napier, MS
Assistant Scientist, Microbiology

Carla Napier joined the GMA specializing in microbiology. As an assistant scientist, Ms. Napier assists member companies with quality issues, provides technical support for research related to foodborne pathogens, and participates in manuscript preparation for peer-reviewed journals. Ms. Napier’s latest co-authored publication is titled, “Survival of Salmonella Tennessee, Salmonella Typhimurium DT104, and Enterococcus faecium in Peanut Paste Formulations at Two Different Levels of Water Activity and Fat.”

Ms. Napier earned her bachelor’s degree in biology with a concentration in microbiology from George Mason University and her master’s degree in Food Safety from Michigan State University.