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Science and Our Food Supply Careers: Kevin Madsen

Careers in Food Science Main Page

"Working in science is being a part of the future. You have the ability to make things better for people around the world. And that's an awesome experience!"




Career Title:
Laboratory Technician
The National Center for Food Safety and Technology
Summit-Argo, Illinois

Field of Expertise:

Academic Studies:
Northern Illinois University
DeKalb, Illinois
Bachelor of Science in Biology

Employment History:
Caddie for Country Club
(while in high school)

(while in high school)

Emergency Medical Technician
(while in college)

Lab Assistant - Genetics Lab
Northern Illinois University
DeKalb, Illinois


"If I hadn't become a scientist, I would have become . . . a doctor or teacher."


Q: What do you do in your current job?
A: I prepare media, maintain stock cultures, and perform metabolic tests for the enumeration, isolation, and identification of foodborne pathogens. I also assist colleagues with the environmental testing of the lab in our Biosafety Laboratory. It's funny, my least favorite subject in school was organic chemistry, and now I find myself using it almost every day!

Q: What led you to the field of science?
I think my earliest inspiration came from competing in science fairs in grade school. I discovered how fun science is by working on different projects. Later, in college, there were a number of professors who asked me to assist them in their labs. Working in the field of science has allowed me to experience and learn new things that I didn't learn in college.

Q: What's the most interesting or exciting project you have ever worked on?
Right now, I'm working on a project called, "The Survival of Food Pathogens During the 60-Day Aging Period of Hard Cheeses Made from Unpasteurized Milk." We make the cheese here, spike it with bacteria, and then test it periodically for a reduction of the bacteria. It's extremely interesting to see how procedures, theories, techniques, and ideas change as people continue to make advances in this field.

Q: What has been the most unexpected thing that has happened during your career?
To tell you the truth, I didn't expect to find a job one week after I graduated, let alone a job that really interested me and has such national exposure. I also never dreamed that I would be working in cooperation with the Food and Drug Administration.

Q: What advice would you give to students who are interested in pursuing a career in science?
Although some science classes may seem difficult, stick with them. They will pay off in the end. Science is such a rewarding field of work. Working in science is being a part of the future. You have the ability to make things better for people around the world. And that's an awesome experience!



May 2001