IEH Academy

Our Instructors

Dr. Robert Brackett

Senior Vice President & Dean, IEH Academy

Dr. Robert Brackett leads the industry training team under the IEH Academy. He received his Ph.D. in Food Microbiology, his M.S. in Food Microbiology, and his B.S. in Bacteriology from the University of Wisconsin. Before joining IEH, Dr. Brackett served as IIT Vice President and Executive Director of the Institute of Food Safety and Health at the Illinois Institute of Technology, and Senior Vice President and Chief Scientific and Regulatory Officer for Washington, DC-based Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) now under the name, Consumer Brands Association. Before serving at GMA, Dr. Brackett worked for the U.S. FDA as the Director of the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, as well as several other executive positions within the FDA. Earlier in his carrier, Dr. Brackett spent 19 years in academia at North Carolina State University where he served as a Food Safety Specialist, and as a Professor at the University of Georgia, where he researched foodborne pathogens. At IEH, he is focused on developing and executing training programs that will enable the food industry to produce safer and higher-quality products. Dr. Brackett is an expert on the microbiological and chemical safety of processed foods and fresh produce. He has over 40 years of experience in factors that affect the growth and survival of foodborne pathogens in both fresh and processed foods and ingredients. In addition, he has extensive experience in developing and providing training for both regulatory and private sector personnel, both internationally and in the U.S.

Dr. Mansour Samadpour

Cofounder & CEO​

Dr. Mansour Samadpour received his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Washington. After completing his Ph.D. and post-doctoral studies, Dr. Samadpour became an Assistant Professor in the Department of Environmental Health at the University of Washington. In 2001, together with Dalia Alfi, he started the Institute for Environmental Health (IEH) Laboratories and Consulting Group. Dr. Samadpour is an expert in the epidemiology and pathogenesis of foodborne and waterborne pathogens, the transport of microbes in the environment and food production systems, molecular epidemiology, and the design and implementation of proactive food safety systems.

Dr. Donald Zink

President, Food & Regulatory Compliance​

Dr. Donald Zink leads the food safety and food processing consulting group at IEH. He received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Biophysics and his M.S. in Microbiology from Texas A&M University and his B.S. from Abilene Christian University. Before working at IEH, Dr. Zink worked for the U.S. FDA as the Chief Scientist for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. At IEH, he is focused on helping clients avoid food contamination from bacterial pathogens. Dr. Zink assists clients with broader issues related to food safety such as process validation, allergen control, and chemical contamination. He is an expert in the microbiological and chemical safety of processed foods and fresh produce.

Dr. Margaret Hardin

Vice President, Technical Services

Dr. Margaret Hardin joined IEH as the Vice President of Technical Services for IEH in 2010. Dr. Hardin’s expertise is in food safety, food shelf-life, sanitation, sanitary design, food microbiology, process control, process validation, environmental testing, and HACCP. Dr. Hardin earned her Ph.D. in Food Microbiology from Texas A&M, her M.S. in Meat Science & Food Microbiology from the University of Georgia, her B.S. in Agricultural Education from North Carolina State University, and her B.S. in Animal Science- Meats from the University of Florida. Before joining IEH, Margaret was an Associate Professor in Food Microbiology at Texas A&M University, where she taught courses in Food Microbiology and HACCP, and developed and taught a class in Applied Microbiology, Sanitation, and Sanitary Design.

Dr. Sergio Sanchez

Vice President, Analytical Services

Dr. Sergio Sanchez is a chemist with 28 years of experience in the areas of laboratory analytical testing, product inspection, and audits. Dr. Sanchez received his Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Puerto Rico. Before joining IEH, Dr. Sanchez launched and managed the global food safety business line for Inspectorate. His work included the design, installation, method development, accreditation, technical support, and operational management of a global network of food testing laboratories and GFSI audit services. Dr. Sanchez also served as technical liaison to government agencies in charge of food safety regulations in Asia, Latin America, the European Union, and the US, including active participation in the FDA’s Shrimp Pilot Program.

Heidi Wederquist

Senior Director, Analytical Services

Heidi Wederquist earned her M.S. in Animal Science and her B.S. in Food Science and Human Nutrition from Colorado State University. At IEH, she coordinates and works as a member of the Technical Services Consulting team, where she helps food companies to develop food safety and quality assurance programs as well as programs needed to meet food industry and regulatory requirements. Before joining IEH, Heidi worked for Chipotle as the Director of Food Safety & Quality Assurance. As a member of the Chipotle Supply Chain team, she helped oversee quality and food safety programs for purchased foods, including fresh and frozen produce, meats, prepared foods, bakery, oils, and seasonings. While at Chipotle, she developed an online supply chain management system, whole-chain traceability programs, and a vendor performance tracking system.

Dr. Jack Davis

Director, Technical Services

Dr. Jack Davis started at JLA in 2014. Dr. Davis received his Ph.D. and M.S. in Food Science from North Carolina State University (NCSU) and his B.S. in Food Science from the University of Georgia. He has worked extensively on many aspects of pre-harvest and post-harvest peanut safety and quality. These include optimization of processing technologies and agronomic strategies to improve finished product quality, advanced nutritional analyses, oil stability, sensory analyses, aflatoxin mitigation, and byproduct utilization. Before joining JLA, Dr. Davis spent ten years with a dual appointment as a research scientist with the USDA Agricultural Research Service and as a faculty member at NCSU in the department of Food, Bioprocessing, and Nutrition Sciences.

Cindy Ryan

Associate Director, Technical Services

Cindy Ryan began her professional career at Nestle in 1994 as a Senior Microbiologist. Ms. Ryan earned her M.S. in Food Science and Food Microbiology and her B.S. in Animal Science and Industry from Kansas State University. During her eleven-year stay with Nestlé, she moved from Senior Microbiologist to Quality Assurance Manager, and finally to Senior Microbiologist and Manager of HACCP Systems. Before joining the IEH consulting team, Ryan spent 9 years as an independent consultant assisting food manufacturing facilities to define, organize, correct, implement, maintain and validate required QA and Food Safety programs including HACCP, allergen control, and pathogen monitoring. Ryan enjoys working on a variety of projects, like assisting manufacturers in the areas of HACCP and Food Safety Plans, pathogen monitoring and control, and allergen control.

Dr. Gene Bartholomew

Vice President, Technical Services

Dr. Gene Bartholomew joined IEH as Vice President of Technical Services in 2019. He earned an M.S. and Ph.D. in microbiology from Cornell University and a B.S. in biology from Bucknell University. Dr. Bartholomew began his professional career at International Paper in 1983 as a research scientist. During his 15 years there, he commercialized and validated an aseptic packaging system, managed a beverage pilot plant and its laboratory, started taste panel testing for the company, and advanced to manage several products, and development groups. He later took on the role of Senior Director of Corporate Food Safety, during which he was responsible for 14 meat processing plants and several FDA-regulated plants. He also managed a corporate microbiology laboratory and its accreditation, has certifications in HACCP training, BRC, and SQF schemes, and is a Preventive Controls Qualified Individual. Dr. Bartholomew was a founding member of the North American Meat Institute Listeria Control Workshop and has taught numerous courses to members of the food industry.

Dr. Ramon Aboytes

Vice President, Technical Services

Dr. Ramon Aboytes joined IEH in 2006. He holds a degree in Veterinary Medicine from the National University of Mexico and both M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Microbiology from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Dr. Aboytes specializes in the molecular epidemiological mapping of microbial contaminants that are necessary for traceback analysis of outbreaks of zoonotic and anthroponotic diseases caused by infectious microorganisms that are linked to the food, beverage, and pharmaceutical industries. Before moving to the United States, Dr. Aboytes was a senior research leader for the Institute of Veterinary Research, Department of Agriculture in Mexico. Dr. Aboytes has over 35 years of experience in the practical applications of GMP, food safety, microbial quality control, quality assurance, risk assessment, and regulatory compliance in the US and Latin America. Through his extensive background in veterinary medicine, microbiology, and applied research to contribute to the advancement of food safety.

Randy Porter

Vice President, Technical Services

Randy Porter, BS, Indiana University joined IEH in 2019 as a Vice President of Technical Services after working for food processing companies such as Campbell Soup, Post Holdings, ConAgra Brands, Kraft/Nabisco, and Dannon over his career. Mr. Porter has held leadership roles in Operations, Engineering / Hygienic Design, Sanitation, Quality, and Food Safety, both in plant and corporate environments. He has had responsibility for both, domestic and international food processing facilities across multiple food categories, ranging from a dairy, bakery, meat, edible oils, eggs, snacks, agricultural, flour, frozen meals, chocolate confectionery, powdered beverages, fruit juice, and more. Most recently, Mr. Porter has held leadership roles at ConAgra Brands – Sr. Director Food Safety, Hygienic Design & Sanitation, at Post Holdings – Vice President of Quality & Product Protection, at Campbell Soup – Head of North America Quality, and, at The Acheson Group as Sr. Director of Food Safety. He has authored and published multiple articles on Hygienic Design and has trained and presented at numerous food industry events and seminars across the globe. Mr. Porter is also a lead trainer for Preventive Controls Qualified Individuals, (PCQI), Human Food Rule.

Dr. Peyman Fatemi

Vice President, Technical & Regulatory Services

Dr. Peyman Fatemi joined IEH as the Vice President of Technical and Regulatory Services in 2019. He received his Ph.D. in Food Science and Microbiology from Penn State University, and his MS in Food Science and BS in Microbiology from The University of Georgia. Dr. Fatemi has helped develop food safety programs and held leading roles within multiple food categories. Before joining IEH, he was the Vice President of Scientific Affairs at The Acheson Group. Before that, at Unilever Foods NA he supported food safety programs for multiple product categories such as Peanut Butter, beverages, sauces, snack bars, and frozen and refrigerated foods. At Smithfield Foods he served as the head of the corporate laboratory group; at Earthbound Farms as the director of food safety. Within the Biotech sector, he helped Life Technologies launch their food safety testing platforms by designing assays to help meet the specific needs of the food testing customers, such as AMETEK Laboratories, where he served as their Technical Director. He is also an active member of multiple industry groups and currently serves as Chair of Pre-harvest PDG at the IAFP and on the Expert Review Panel for the AOAC Official Methods Board. He has been an invited speaker within several national and international groups such as the FDA, USDA/FSIS, IFT, IAFP, and multiple Industry Groups.

Dr. Michael De La Zerda

Vice President, Technical & Regulatory Support

Dr. Michael De La Zerda received his Ph.D., M.S., and B.S. in Animal Science from Texas A&M University. Dr. De La Zerda has extensive on-site experience at food production facilities. Examples of his on-site expertise include broccoli, ready-to-eat, nut production, and the processing of nuts, onions, sprouts, chocolate, bread, and fish. Each of these opportunities has provided numerous experiences in consulting, HACCP plan development and revision, personnel training, validation of process control and microbial interventions, and detailed regulatory activity assistance (Noncompliance Records, Notices of Intended Enforcement actions, Notices of Suspension and Verification Plans, and Humane Handling issues). Before joining IEH, Dr. De La Zerda was responsible for the direction and implementation of the food safety programs for a natural and organic meat company, where he oversaw multi-protein slaughter and ready-to-eat processing facilities across the United States.

Dea Lievano Woolrich

Associate Director, Technical Services

Dea Lievano Woolrich started at IEH in 2016 as the Associate Director of Technical Services. Ms. Woolrich earned her B.S. in Food Science from the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education. Dea has 20 years of experience in food processing facilities, where she worked multiple positions in the Production, R&D, and Quality Assurance Departments. Ms. Woolrich has some dairy experience, and nearly 15 years of experience overseeing multi-facility operations with refrigerated and frozen prepared foods under FDA and USDA jurisdiction, where she developed Food Safety Systems and Programs from scratch -including multiple HACCP Plans- as well as established a team of 19 employees in the QA Department. Since joining IEH, she has focused on performing facility assessments, developing EMPs and pre-requisite programs, and training client employees on proper aseptic technique, basic cGMPs, Sanitation procedures, root cause analysis, and corrective actions. She is fully bilingual in Spanish and very comfortable working in processing environments. Woolrich is highly skilled at ensuring food quality standards, documentation, training, and operations.

Dr. George Baker

Vice President, Technical Services

Dr. George Baker joined IEH in 2020. He received both his B.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Florida in Food Science. His graduate specializations included storage water activity studies, flavor compound formation under different roasting conditions, sensory analysis, including trained quantitative descriptive analysis panels, and instrumental analysis of fats and oils. He is certified to teach Seafood HACCP and Sanitation Control Procedures courses and was recently the Institute of Food Technologist’s Aquatic Food Products Division Chair. For the last few years, he worked in food manufacturing as the Director of Food Safety & Quality, as well as the SQF Practitioner and PCQI for two food production facilities with multiple production lines. He also directed substantial changes to the Environmental Monitoring Program and microbiological testing programs. In his role as Director of New Product Development, he was responsible for updated sensory testing/shelf life determination procedures and problem-solving projects.

Dr. Veronica Arias

Scientist, Technical Services

Dr. Arias has worked as a research associate at IEH since 2017. She received her Ph.D. in Food Science and Technology focused on Food Safety at Texas A&M University, her Masters in Food Science and Technology from the University Autonomous of Queretaro, and her Bachelors in Biochemical Engineering from the Regional Technological Institute of Colima. After joining IEH, Dr. Arias became the technical area lead in the department of Reference Materials. She has been involved in validation experiments for our IEH-media formulation as well as performing special client projects. For special projects, Dr. Arias writes research proposals, performs experiments, analyzes data, and submits reports to clients.

Dr. Fereidoun Forghani

Scientist, Technical Services

Dr. Fereidoun Forghani received his B.S. in Molecular Cell Biology and M.S in Microbiology from Azad University, Iran, and earned his Ph.D. in Food Science and Biotechnology from Kangwon National University in South Korea. Before joining IEH in 2020, he gained further training through three postdoctoral fellowships from 2015 to 2020. During his post-doctoral training, he developed rapid detection methods for the identification of foodborne pathogens. He also performed research on the molecular detection of plant-parasitic nematodes, through which he gained firsthand experience in the post-harvest processing of fresh produce and row crop agriculture. Dr. Forghani’s work developing patented detection methods for foodborne pathogens and hurdle technologies for microbial decontamination, and his experience working on antimicrobial treatments, dry foods, lactic acid bacteria, organic foods, microbial modeling, and HACCP have provided him with a strong understanding of food microbiology and safety. Dr. Forghani helps IEH clients improve the microbial safety of their products and is involved in designing and execution of special projects including shelf-life studies, process validations, method development, and interdisciplinary research that address client needs.

Rafal Knap

Director, Aseptic & Thermal Processing

Rafal Knap is the Director of Aseptic and Thermal Processing at IEH. Mr. Knap earned his M.S. in Food Science and his B.S. in Microbiology from the University of British Columbia. Knap uses his extensive experience in microbiology, and conventional thermal and aseptic processing to design and manage complex validation projects of aseptic processing and packing equipment. In addition, he provides technical assistance to food producers in areas of thermal food processing (as a “Process Authority”) and food safety (low/high-acid foods, aseptic food products, food microbiology, risk assessment, GMPs, QC/QA issues and re-call assistance). Before working at IEH, Mr. Knap worked for the National Food Processors Association and the National Food Laboratory. His roles included providing consulting services to clients in the areas of thermal processing, food safety, new technologies, and issues about food microbiology, food safety, risk assessment, food processing equipment, and process design.

Dr. Dilip Chandarana

Vice President, Process Engineering

Dr. Dilip Chandarana joined IEH in 2005. Dr. Chandarana earned his Ph.D. and M.S. in Food Engineering from the University of Maryland, and a Bachelor of Technology in Agricultural Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology. He specializes in food engineering, heat transfer, thermal and aseptic processing, aseptic packaging, regulatory compliance, and microbial spoilage diagnosis. At the National Food Processors Association (NFPA), Dr. Chandarana developed research programs in the area of aseptic processing and packaging of foods containing particles and was instrumental in developing the first successful process filing for such foods. He was the NFPA’s leader for high-temperature rheology research where he developed the NFPA’s New Technologies research program. Chandarana also has extensive experience in testing a variety of aseptic processing and packaging systems, process designs, deviation handling, and spoilage investigations and diagnosis. Finally, Chandarana taught several better process controls schools, thermal processing, and deviation workshops, and aseptic processing and packaging workshops while at NFPA.

Mark Deniston

Associate Director, Process Engineering

Mark Deniston has worked with IEH since 2005. He earned his M.S. in Food Engineering from UC Davis and his B.S. from Cal Poly. He has published papers on heat transfer to foods with particles, heat transfer to food products heated in steam/air retorts, and hyperfiltration technology for protein recovery. Deniston also was co-author of a National Food Processors Association (NFPA) book on automated control system validation. Deniston has taught numerous workshops and courses such as the FDA Advanced Low Acid Canned Foods Workshops, NFPA, and IEH Thermal Processing, Aseptic Processing and Process Deviation Workshops, and Better Process Control Schools. At IEH, Deniston conducts evaluation studies on automated control systems, 21 CFR Part 11 electronic record-keeping systems, retort systems, and aseptic processing and packaging systems. He also recommends LACF and acidified thermal processes and evaluates LACF and acidified thermal process deviations. Deniston has held a part-time UC Davis position for 33 years, and before working at IEH, he worked at the NFPA Western Research Laboratory for 19 years in thermal processing and environmental engineering.

Merle Jacobs

Vice President, Agricultural Products

Merle Jacobs is the Vice President of Agricultural Products at IEH. He earned his B.S. in Business Administration from California State University, Stanislaus. Mr. Jacobs has over 40 years of experience in agriculture including food safety, quality control, operations, regulatory compliance, research, sales, service, and industry relations. Before joining IEH, Mr. Jacobs consulted on food safety in the nut industry and held the position of President and CEO of the American Council for Food Safety and the Specialty Crop Trade Council. Mr. Jacobs was with the Almond Board of California for 20 years. His responsibilities included food safety research and education, developing industry-wide food safety programs, industry relations, and ensuring marketing order compliance. He was instrumental in developing and implementing voluntary aflatoxin testing and mandatory pasteurization programs for the almond industry.

George Young

Environmental Health & Safety

George Young is a Certified Indoor Environmental Consultant (CIEC) and Certified Healthcare Constructor (CHC). He joined the IEH team in 2019 as the Vice-President of Operations of Environmental Safety Technologies (EST). George started working at EST in 2000 managing indoor air quality projects, many of which focused on the impact of construction on airborne and waterborne pathogens in healthcare environments. These pathogens include but are not limited to LegionellaPseudomonas aeruginosa, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), AcinetobacterBurkholderia cepaciaStenotrophomonas maltophilia, Nontuberculous Mycobacterium species, and Fungi (yeast and mold). He also works with pharmaceutical, educational, long-term care, and manufacturing customers to identify the risk of environmental pathogens by developing sampling strategies for evaluating air and water quality, collecting samples, and providing recommendations based on the investigation and sample results.

Dr. Samuel Myoda

Vice President, Technical Services

Dr. Samuel Myoda joined IEH in 2007. He earned his Ph.D. in Civil & Environmental Engineering and his B.S. in Environmental Science/Biology from the University of Delaware. Dr. Myoda is well-versed in federal and state laws, regulations, and policies. He is a leading expert in microbial source tracking and water quality. Before joining IEH, Dr. Myoda worked at the State of Delaware, Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, Division of Water Resources. There, he directed the Molecular Biology Laboratory, research, method development, computer modeling for water quality and hydrodynamics, risk assessments, water and wastewater treatment, environmental monitoring, and regulatory and compliance issues. Dr. Myoda has served as a consulting and testifying expert in various legal cases, including the 2006 spinach E. coli O157 outbreak and Tyson et al. vs. Oklahoma in 2007. Dr. Myoda is the 2008 recipient of the Wesley W. Horner Award presented by the Environmental and Water Resources Institute of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and is also an active member of the American Society of Microbiology (ASM). In addition to his expertise in environmental fields, he also has a great deal of experience in food safety, disinfection, process controls, program management, computer programming, and design.

Dr. Robert Miksch

Senior Vice President, Technical Services

Dr. Robert Miksch is one of the most senior members at IEH, starting with the company in 2001. Dr. Miksch received his Ph.D. from the University of Washington and his B.S. in Chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley. He has authored, audited, validated, and verified HACCP plans, and assisted clients in responding to regulatory notifications. These include Noncompliance Records, Notices of Intended Enforcement (NOIE) actions, and Notices of Suspension (NOS). Dr. Miksch also designed and implemented microbial intervention validation studies. Before joining IEH, he practiced as a Certified Industrial Hygienist, with more than 20 years of experience in a broad range of private, government, and academic environments. He founded and ran a successful practice covering chemical and biological hazards in a wide range of settings. A key practice area was authoring pragmatic enterprise-scale OSHA Process Safety Management/EPA Risk Management plans for food processor ammonia refrigeration systems.

Dr. Mohammad Koohmaraie

President, Meat Division

Dr. Koohmaraie joined IEH as the Chief Executive Officer of the Meat Division in 2008. He received his Ph.D. in Meat Science and Muscular Biology from Oregon State University, his M.S. in Meat Science from Texas A&M at Kingsville, and his B.S. in Animal Science from Pahlavi University. Throughout his career, Dr. Koohmaraie has focused his research efforts on the biological mechanisms regulating meat tenderness. Starting with the E. coli O157:H7 outbreak in the Northwest, Dr. Koohmaraie has been heavily involved in leading and conducting research projects to help the meat industry eliminate E. coli O157:H7 from the red meat supply. After 24 years as a USDA scientist, Dr. Koohmaraie left the public sector to pursue his passion in the area of beef safety and quality in the private sector. Throughout his impressive career, Dr. Koohmaraie has received numerous awards such as the Agricultural Research Service’s Scientist of the Year Award in 1992 and 2001, the Agricultural Research Service’s technology transfer awards in 2004 and 2008, and the USDA Secretary Award in 1995 and 2001. In 2012, Dr. Koohmaraie was inducted into the Meat Industry Hall of Fame. Dr. Koohmaraie has published over 400 scientific publications and has given over 300 invited talks to U.S. and International Organizations. Dr. Koohmaraie is an ISI Highly Cited Scientist.