Norma Dawkins, Ph.D. is a professor, a research scientist, and the Department Chair of Food and Nutritional Sciences at Tuskegee University in Tuskegee, Alabama. She has been actively involved in teaching and research in academic institutions at the national and international levels. She also worked as a senior scientist in the food industry. Her most recent work involves basic and applied research in the prevention and reduction of risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease, cancer, and obesity among underserved population groups. Dr. Dawkins has numerous publications covering foods, nutrition, and community-based intervention to her credit.

Larry Keener, C.F.S., P.A., P.C.Q.I. is President and CEO of International Product Safety Consultants, which provides food safety and food technology solutions to the food processing industry, serving a broad client base that includes Fortune 500 food companies, academic research institutes, and government agencies. 

Mr. Keener is an internationally regarded microbiologist and process authority in the food industry. His areas of expertise range from applied food microbiology to the development and application of novel preservation technologies. He is a past president of the Institute of Food Technologists’ (IFT's) Nonthermal Processing Division.

Mr. Keener has received numerous awards and honors, including 2013 IFT Fellow, as well as a lifetime achievement award from the International Union of Food Science and Technology (IUFoST) for his work in microbiology and food safety. Mr. Keener has published more than 100 papers on subjects related to food production and food safety science.

Mr. Keener has deep ties to Tuskegee University, previously serving as President of the Food and Nutrition Board for two terms. He has also been an advisor for the U.S. National Aeronautics Space Administration’s (NASA’s) Center for Deep Space Research, and has lead collaborative efforts between numerous organizations including IFT, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and industry, culminating in the first George Washington Carver Lecture Series at Tuskegee. Mr. Keener is a recipient of the George Washington Carver distinguished service award from Tuskegee University.

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In this episode of Food Safety Matters, we speak with Dr. Hawkins and Mr. Keener about:

  • The timeline of George Washington Carver’s life
  • George Washington Carver’s work as a leader of the environmental movement at the turn of the 19th century and his scientific achievements that advanced agriculture
  • How George Washington Carver found success despite the challenges he faced as a Black man in the U.S. during the Jim Crow Era, and how Tuskegee University is striving to elevate his acclaim to deserved levels
  • George Washington Carver’s work through his Jesup Wagon, a mobile classroom that he used to teach Black farmers and sharecroppers about growing crops effectively 
  • Tuskegee University’s various programs and efforts that aim to carry on the legacy of George Washington Carver by assisting and providing opportunities for underserved farmers, and providing future-minded educational programs
  • The importance of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in the present day.

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