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Web Content Viewer (JSR 286)

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Web Content Viewer (JSR 286)

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Web Content Viewer (JSR 286)

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Web Content Viewer (JSR 286)

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Web Content Viewer (JSR 286)

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Faces of Food Safety: Dr. Stephanie Defibaugh-Chavez - Love of Science Leads Microbiologist to FSIS

Dr. Stephanie Defibaugh-ChavezDr. Stephanie Defibaugh-Chavez is a senior microbiologist in the Office of Public Health Science (OPHS). Defibaugh-Chavez works with many internal and external stakeholders, including other regulatory and public health partners, to assess and make recommendations to FSIS principals—using the best available scientific information for a given topic. Defibaugh-Chavez’s day includes determining microbiological method equivalency, review of scientific support for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points food safety systems in establishments, sampling designs for investigative sampling and review of information on emerging food safety issues.

“In my position, I have opportunities to impact food safety almost every day. Whether it is through activities with other agencies for improving illness surveillance using cutting edge technology or by making a recommendation on the safety of a product in a situation where a recall may be warranted, I help by providing scientific justification and rationales that the Agency can use for decision-making,” said Defibaugh-Chavez.

"In this job, there is always an important request waiting to be answered, and the result often has a direct impact on the safety of our food supply."

Dr. Stephanie Defibaugh-Chavez

She came to FSIS in November of 2010 following three years of working on method development for characterization of Salmonella at the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. She holds a chemistry degree from University of Southwestern Louisiana (now the University of Louisiana at Lafayette); a master’s in biochemistry; and a Ph.D. in cell and molecular biology from the University of Arkansas. Her previous work has also led to developing new techniques for detecting Clostridium botulinum and the toxins it produces in food products.

“I think my favorite part about this job is that there is never a dull moment,” she said. “In this job, there is always an important request waiting to be answered, and the result often has a direct impact on the safety of our food supply. The work is challenging and more importantly, very rewarding.”

Defibaugh-Chavez is dedicated to her work. “Sometimes to a fault,” she said, explaining how during her pregnancy she chose to work from a hospital bed because the project she was engaged in was high-profile. “My experiences during that time taught me two things,” she said. “One, there are many others at FSIS that won’t let the ball drop. And two, its okay to take time for yourself and your family when you need it. I am proud to work for FSIS,” she said. “And as an agency, we should all be proud of the work we do to protect the nation’s food supply. All of us impact public health every day simply by showing up and contributing [our] work.”

Off the clock, she dabbles in photography, setting her focus on producing insightful macro images of insects and flowers. In the summer, she gardens with her husband where they cultivate a large variety of peppers. Other than that, ‘mom duties’ and work take up the rest of her time.

 

Last Modified Oct 18, 2016