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Dave Theno Food Safety Fellowship

The 2024 - 2025 Dave Theno Food Safety Fellowship applications are being reviewed.

New Fellow will be announced at IAFP, July 14, 2024


The Dave Theno Food Safety Fellowship will be offered to one recent graduate (2019-2024) with a Bachelor’s Degree or higher in Food Science, Animal Science,  or Food Policy from an accredited college or university with a GPA of 3.0 or higher. The Dave Theno Fellow will work 35 hours a week in the Stop Foodborne Illness (STOP) offices.

Working within the mission of STOP, the Fellow will complete their responsibilities (listed below). Work will focus mainly on a designated research project, in conjunction with Michigan State University (MSU) Online Food Safety program (OFS) while also participating in other activities that support learning and experience in food safety. The Fellowship is based in Chicago with a salary of $31,000.

Eligible applicants are U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, and U.S. permanent residents. We cannot sponsor visas.

Start Date: August 15, 2024 | End Date: August 11, 2025

Dave Theno

David Theno was a man of action and was passionate about what it really meant to keep food safe. It was about family. A friendship with one of the founders of Stop Foodborne Illness (who lost a child to E. coli O157:H7) profoundly influenced Dave to keep a photograph of her daughter, Lauren Beth, in his wallet throughout his career, to remind him of the devastation wrought by foodborne pathogens. As a result, he worked tirelessly to create a culture of food safety.

Dave was hired as senior vice president and chief food safety officer for Jack in the Box in 1993, as the San Diego fast food chain was reeling from a massive and deadly outbreak of E. coli O157:H7. Four deaths, including Lauren Beth’s, and hundreds of illnesses were blamed on the burger chain that some said would not survive. Top management made an early decision to give Dave Theno complete authority over food safety. He implemented a comprehensive Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) plan and then required a finished product testing protocol, test and hold, that initially irked others in the meat industry before it was almost universally adopted. Dave remained with Jack in the Box for almost 16 years.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in zoology and science journalism from Iowa State University and master’s and doctoral degrees in food microbiology and animal sciences from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Dave Theno’s leadership in responding to the 1993 outbreak and challenge of E. coli O157:H7 has been recognized by numerous scientific and industry organizations.

David M. Theno: November 11, 1950 - June 19, 2017


~ Complete a research project as determined by Fellow, STOP CEO, and MSU OFS Director, that aligns with STOP’s mission and contributes to the organization. (All work will be completed during the one-year program.)

~ Complete MSU Online Food Safety Certificate program.

~ Familiarize themselves with current STOP constituency, Speakers Bureau and Honor Wall.

~ Participate in MSU’s Food Safety Journal Club.

~ Complete Weekly Reports to track progress throughout the Fellowship, and two brief reflections each month; Bi-weekly meetings with STOP CEO and MSU OFS Director.

~ Attend 2024 IAFP annual meeting (July 14-17, Long Beach, California) to announce the award as a representative of STOP.

Eligibility Requirements

+ Bachelor’s Degree or higher in Food Science, Animal Science, or Food Policy from accredited college or university with a GPA of 3.0 or higher.

+ Communication and interpersonal skills; must have level of comfort reaching out to individuals who have been impacted by foodborne illness.

+ Interest in food industry, food regulation, and food safety.

+ Interest in learning collaborative method of work.

Required Application Materials

1. A completed application form. (Full Name and Email)

2. Statement of Intent outlining your background, professional interests, reason for wanting this Fellowship, and how it can help your future career.

3. Official academic transcripts from degree granting university

4. Current CV or resume

5. Three letters of recommendation (2 academic, 1 personal)

Take Me to the Application

Insight from Past Fellows

Michigan State University’s (MSU) Online Food Safety Program strives to educate professionals on how to make global food systems safe and supports individuals as they advance in food safety-related careers. Professionals in the program will develop critical thinking, an increased understanding of food safety science and leadership skills, centering the individual and their company at the forefront of food safety.

The program consists of an online Master of Science in Food Safety Degree, Graduate Food Safety Certificate, online non-credit continuing education courses, and an on-campus executive education program.

The Fellowship includes tuition support to complete the 12 credit, online Graduate Food Safety Certificate with the MSU Online Food Safety Program. The Graduate Certificate includes three required courses: VM 811 Evolution and Ecology of Foodborne Pathogens, VM 812 Food Safety Toxicology, and VM 831 Food Safety Epidemiology, plus one approved elective course. Coursework for the MSU Online Food Safety Graduate Certificate will be paid for by STOP.

For more information regarding the MSU Online Food Safety Graduate Certificate please visit,

Stop Foodborne Illness is a national nonprofit public health organization that supports and engages people directly impacted by foodborne illness and mobilizes them to help prevent illness and death by driving change through advocacy, collaboration, and innovation.

Partnering with leaders in food industry, we promote sound food safety policy and best practices from farm to table. We encourage federal and state bodies and agencies to mitigate food safety risks through policy and legislation. For media, government, industry, and consumers, it is our volunteer advocates who provide a human face behind the statistics – a powerful reminder of the need for a vigilant food safety culture.

For those impacted by foodborne pathogens we provide a platform, through our website and a wide-range of speaking opportunities, to share their story. We offer peer-to-peer mentoring for victims and families across the country. We create and maintain an array of beneficial information (downloadable on our website) for anyone seeking more knowledge on foodborne illness. The stories on our website’s Honor Wall are a testament to the strength and endurance of individuals and families. Telling one’s story is often, not only empowering for the storyteller, but thought provoking for the listener.

Read: 2022-2023 Dave Theno Fellow Kiley’s story