Science and Our Food Supply Careers: Art Miller, Ph.D.
"To be in science, you must be goal oriented."
Lead Scientist for Research and Risk Assessment, Food Safety Initiative
Food and Drug Administration
Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition
Field of Expertise:
Behavior and control of bacterial pathogens in foods
Kansas State University
Bachelor of Science in Biology
Pennsylvania State University
University Park, Pennsylvania
Master of Science in Food Science
Ph.D. in Food Toxicology
(while in college)
Research Assistant, Biology
(while in college)
Middle School Science Teacher
U.S. Department of Agriculture
USDA Agricultural Research Service
Eastern Regional Research Center
"If I hadn't become a scientist, I would have become . . . a musician or historian."
Q: What do you do in your current job?
A: I manage food safety research and risk assessment programs and serve as an advisor to FDA leadership on food safety. I also lecture internationally, conduct foodborne illness outbreak investigations, and provide instruction for international and domestic training programs on food safety.
Q: What led you to become a scientist?
A: In high school, I was torn between science and the humanities. I especially liked biology, history, and music. I favored the sciences because my personality was more compatible with this field. For instance, when given a choice, I favored well-defined problems to work on.
While growing up, it was my dentist who encouraged me to learn more about the relationship between food and health. After college, I went to work in the food industry and decided that I wanted to spend my career improving the safety of food.
Q: What do you like most about your career?
A: The diversity of the people that I work with, such as lawyers, engineers, physicians, research scientists, economists, and educators. I also love traveling. I once gave a series of lectures that allowed me to prove to myself that the world is round. I got on a plane in Washington, D.C., and flew east, making stops in Frankfurt, Bangkok, Melbourne, Auckland, Los Angeles, and finally back to Washington. Just like Magellan!
This career also gives me the opportunity to write about my research and open doors that no one else has opened. It's a great feeling to enter a room full of strangers and have someone say, "I know who you are because I've read your papers!"
Q: Have you been involved in any new scientific discoveries during your career?
A: Early in my career, I worked on ways to prevent cancer-causing compounds from forming during the cooking of food. My colleagues and I demonstrated that by adding Vitamin C to food or using "mild" cooking methods, such as microwaving, none of the carcinogens would form.
Q: What advice would you give to students who are interested in pursuing a career in science?
A: Remember, to be in science, you must be goal oriented.