Director CEPHT, Professor of Food Microbiology and BiotechnologyNC Agricultural & Technical State UniversityCenter for Excellence in Post-Harvest Technologies
Work Phone: 704-250-5703workWork Email: INTERNET
Dr. Leonard L. Williams, professor and lead scientist for food safety at the Center for Excellence in Post-Harvest Technologies, specializes in microbiology. Williams examines the incidence of foodborne pathogens in fruits and vegetables, including salad crops, using molecular, immunological and epidemiological approaches, with the goal of identifying new strains and their ability to develop resistance to both natural and synthetically derived agents.
Current areas of research focus on determining the genetic diversity and antimicrobial profile of pathogens isolated from food and animal samples, as well as developing a rapid antimicrobial assay to determine the efficacy of natural and synthetic agents.
Active projects in the laboratory involve:
– Determining the mode of action of selected phytochemicals and bioactive compounds against Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, Listeria monocytogenes and enterohemorrhagic E. coli (E. coli O157: H7).
– Use of novel non-thermal processing to inactivate food borne pathogens on the surfaces of produce.
– Developing new in vitro and in vivo animal models to determine the virulence of microorganisms (viral and bacterial) on host immunity.
– Using a molecular and immunological approach to study the role of phytochemicals on cell-mediated cytotoxicity and viability.
– Shelf-life studies involving fresh produce.
– Epidemiological approaches to food safety and food defense.
– Use of non-thermal technologies for the inactivation of food borne pathogens on the surfaces of fruits and vegetables.
Dr. Williams obtained his Ph.D. degree in food science, specializing in microbiology from Alabama A&M University in 2000. From 2000 -2005, he served as assistant professor of food microbiology and immunochemistry in the Department of Food and Animal Sciences, and from 2005 -2008 as associate professor in the same department. In addition to his doctorate in food science, Dr. Williams also has a M.S. degree in animal health sciences from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical University.