Project Director

Amy R. Sapkota (University of Maryland College Park): Dr. Sapkota is an environmental microbiologist with 15 years of experience developing, refining and applying culture- and molecular-based methods for the detection and quantification of bacterial pathogens in environmental media, including water, air, food and soil.

Co-Project Directors

Ashley Ellixson (University of Maryland College Park): Ms. Ellixson specializes in agricultural law and its effects on agricultural producers, and her main area of research focuses on the Clean Water Act.

Charles Gerba (University of Arizona): Dr. Gerba specializes in research on the transmission of pathogens through the environment.

Paul Goeringer (University of Maryland College Park): Dr. Goeringer specializes in legal risk management as it relates to agriculture.

Fawzy Hashem (University of Maryland Eastern Shore): Dr. Hashem’s research interests focus on environmental microbiology, microbial source tracking, biological control, bioremediation, phyto-remediation, plant-microbe interactions, environmental pollution and food safety.

Kalmia Kniel (University of Delaware): Dr. Kniel’s research focuses on food and waterborne protozoa and viruses and use of non-thermal methods to inactivate these organisms on fresh produce.

Kent Messer (University of Delaware): Dr. Messer’s research focuses on environmental conservation, provision of public goods, and behavioral response to risk.

Shirley Micallef (University of Maryland College Park): Dr. Micallef specializes in the microbiological safety of fresh produce.

Masoud Negahban-Azar (University of Maryland College Park): Dr. Negahban-Azar specializes in the development of systems-level solutions for water and environmental management.

Michael Pappas (University of Maryland Baltimore): Mr. Pappas’ scholarship explores the nature of property expectations, governmental responsibilities, and private rights in managing resources such as land, energy, water, wildlife, fisheries, and food.

Robert Percival (University of Maryland Baltimore): Mr. Percival is internationally recognized as a leading scholar and teacher in environmental law.

Sadhana Ravishankar (University of Arizona): Dr. Ravishankar’s research interests include control of foodborne pathogenic bacteria, survival and prevalence of foodborne pathogens in fresh produce growing environments/organic composts, and stress tolerance responses of foodborne pathogenic bacteria.

Channah Rock (University of Arizona)Dr. Rock is a research-driven Water Quality Extension Program specialist throughout Arizona, and works on the evaluation of water quality for the protection of public health as well as promoting water reuse as a safe and practical resource. 

Manan Sharma (United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service): Dr. Sharma’s research focuses on the survival, persistence and growth of the bacterial foodborne pathogen Escherichia coli O157:H7 in leafy green pre-harvest environments. E. coli O157:H7 has been associated with several high profile outbreaks associated with lettuce, spinach and other leafy greens.

Core Directors

Mihai Pop (University of Maryland College Park): Dr. Pop is a computer scientist with over 15 years of experience in bioinformatics, specifically in the analysis of large genomic and metagenomic datasets.

Amir Sapkota (University of Maryland College Park): Dr. Sapkota leads the exposure assessment laboratory at the University of Maryland School of Public Health. He has worked extensively to characterize environmental pollutants that are of concern to human health using state of the art laboratory methods including liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) based approaches.

Debra Weinstein (University of Maryland College Park): Dr. Weinstein has over 15 years of research development experience and works closely with faculty, students and staff to coordinate all aspects of interdisciplinary research teams.


University of Maryland College Park

Arava Institute for Environmental Studies

New Mexico State University

University of Arizona

United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service 


University of Delaware

University of Maryland Baltimore

University of Maryland Eastern Shore


  • Teresa McCoy, Evaluation Coordinator (University of Maryland College Park)
  • Daphne Pee, Evaluation (University of Maryland College Park)
  • Maurice Rocque, Account Manager (University of Maryland College Park)

Advisory Committee 

  • Ching-Tzone Tien (Maryland Department of the Environment), Chair
  • Samir Assar (FDA)
  • Robert Buchanan (UMD)
  • Tim Ford (Shenandoah University)
  • Scott Herzberg (Jug Bay Market Garden)
  • Daniel Kugler (UMD)
  • Clive Lipchin (Arava)
  • Melissa Meeker (WateReuse)
  • Steve Miller (Town of Manchester)
  • Clifford Mitchell (Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene)
  • Sarah Sohn (Future Harvest, CASA)
  • M. Sundar (Air Liquide)
  • Jeremy Vanderzyl (Duncan Family Farms)
  • Rick Ward (Maricopa Agricultural Center)