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Dean Kate VandenBosch with Distinguished Alumni Award recipient Steven Ricke at UW–Madison CALS Honorary Recognition at Union South in Madison, Wis., Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. Photo by Michael P. King/UW–Madison CALS

FAYETTEVILLE — Steven C. Ricke, professor of food science for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, has been named a Distinguished Alumnus by the University of Wisconsin College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.

Ricke is the Donald “Buddy” Wray Endowed Chair in Food Safety and director of the Division of Agriculture’s Center for Food Safety. He is also a faculty member of the food science department of the Division of Agriculture and Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences, and the Cellular and Molecular Graduate program at the University of Arkansas.

Ricke’s research program in the division’s Arkansas Agriculture Experiment Station is primarily focused on Salmonella, with projects spanning nearly 15 years, emphasizing studies on growth, survival and pathogenesis of the pathogen during food animal production and processing.

The award was presented during a recognition banquet Oct. 17 by Kate Vandenbosch, dean and director of the UW College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.

Each year since 2009 the University of Wisconsin-Madison college recognizes alumni who have demonstrated outstanding service to their communities, chosen career fields and citizens of their state and country. Ricke was recognized for his lifetime research and academic achievements in the field of food safety.

Ricke earned his Ph.D. in a double major in bacteriology and animal sciences. Before that, he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

His Ph.D. dissertation on the cattle rumen organism Selenomonas ruminantium yielded ten publications

After completing his doctoral degree, Ricke did postdoctoral work for USDA-ARS at North Carolina State University on the genetics of the nitrogen fixing organism Azotobacter vinelandii, which trained him in the molecular tools he needed to pursue basic research on foodborne pathogens.

Ricke served on the faculty of Texas A&M University’s department of poultry science for over a decade before becoming the Wray Endowed Chair in Food Safety at the University of Arkansas. As director of the Division of Agriculture’s Center of Food Safety, Ricke’s work focuses on food microbiology research in poultry and food production systems.

The UW-CALS Distinguished Alumnus award recognizes his publication of nearly 400 peer-reviewed research papers and numerous service roles as an editor and editorial board member of scientific journals and editor or co-editor of academic-based books.

Ricke was also acknowledged for his mentoring efforts to instill the importance of combining quality research with well-developed writing and publication skills in all of the students and post-doctorates he has advised over his academic career. As a result, many have become successful faculty members in their own right at universities both in the United States and abroad.


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