P. Michael Davidson, PhD

P. Michael Davidson, PhDDr. P. Michael Davidson is Professor of Food Microbiology in the Department of Food Science and Technology at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Davidson received a B.S. in Microbiology from the University of Idaho in 1973, an M.S. in Food Science from the University of Minnesota in 1977 and a Ph.D. in Food Science from Washington State University in 1979.  He joined the Department of Food Science and Technology at the University of Tennessee in 1979 and achieved the rank of Professor in 1989. From 1991-1998, Davidson was Professor of Food Microbiology in the Department of Food Science and Toxicology at the University of Idaho. In 1999, he returned to the University of Tennessee where he served as Department Head from 2005-2013. He has taught courses in food microbiology, fermentations, thermal process microbiology, and sanitation and has directed and served on committees of over 100 graduate students.

Davidson was elected to the IFT Board of Directors and served from 2009-2012. Additionally, he has served as Chair of the Food Microbiology Division of the American Society for Microbiology (1993) and Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) (1997) and in 2000 was presented the Distinguished Service Award from the IFT Food Microbiology Division. Dr. Davidson has authored or co-authored over 160 refereed journal articles and book chapters, primarily in the areas of food safety and food antimicrobials. He is co-editor of the books, Antimicrobials in Foods, 3rd Edition and Food Additives. Dr. Davidson currently serves as Scientific Co-Editor of the Journal of Food Protection. He was elected Fellow of IFT, the International Association of Food Protection and the American Academy of Microbiology. Davidson’s research interests are characterization of regulatory-approved and naturally occurring food antimicrobials and determination of thermal resistance characteristics of foodborne pathogens.

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What do you feel you can contribute to the growth and advancement of IFT?
Firstly, no one can advance an organization alone. It takes a large team consisting of volunteers and the professional IFT staff. Growing and advancing an organization requires that professionals choose to join and become involved. When people become involved as volunteers or active participants they often become more positive about an organization. Members that are passionately positive about an organization tend to become recruiters themselves. When I joined IFT in the dark ages, it was to belong to the scientific society associated with my field, for networking, for information, and for a sense of pride. I truly believe that people join IFT today for much the same reasons. What is different between now and then are the immense financial and professional pressures that may lead people to continue as members or to look at other options to fulfill their needs. In my opinion, whether you are a food chemist, microbiologist, engineer, sensory scientist, nutrition scientist or whatever, you should belong to IFT. Why? Because you can’t be a chemist, microbiologist, engineer, etc. in a vacuum. What links us all is “food”. That is what IFT is…the one organization that looks “holistically” at the science of food and that’s why I believe in and belong to IFT.

In my many years associated with IFT, I’ve been amazed at the passion for service by literally hundreds of volunteers and staff alike. These people truly care about the organization and the profession. However, while a lot of members have similar passions for promoting the organization, not everyone sees the road to improvement in the same way. That is the nature of a large organization made up of members from many diverse professional backgrounds. The challenge then comes in being able to embrace these different viewpoints for the passion they bring and blending them for use in growing and advancing IFT. I am no different than anyone else, I have my way of thinking about how the organization should function in moving forward. However, I believe I have the capacity for understanding all viewpoints, not just my own, and I feel that this ability is something that I can use to help grow and advance IFT.

Formal Education 
BS, 1973, Bacteriology, University of Idaho
MS, 1977, Food Science and Nutrition, University of Minnesota
Ph.D., 1979, Food Science and Technology, Washington State University

Career History

Company

Title

Start Date

End Date

University of Tennessee

Professor

2013

Present

University of Tennessee

Professor and Department Head

2005

2013

University of Tennessee

Professor

1999

2005

University of Idaho

Professor

1991

1999

University of Tennessee

Professor, Assoc. Prof., Asst. Prof.

1979

1991

Leadership Experience

Company/Org

Position

Start Date

End Date

IFT Board of Directors

Member

2009

2012

IFT Food Microbiology Division

Chair

1996

1997

IFT Intermountain Section

Chair

1995

1996

IFT Volunteer Section

Secretary-Treasurer

1983

1986

IFT Lewis & Clark Section

Member-at-Large

1994

1996

IFT Food Microbiology Division

Chair, Graduate Paper Competitions

1985

1987

IFT Food Microbiology Division

Newsletter Co-Editor

1986

1995

1999

2003

IFT Committee on Divisions

Chair

2003

2004

IFT Committee on Sections and Divisions, Committee on Divisions, Work Group on Divisions, Task Force on Divisions, Division Transitions Task Force

Member

1999

2012

American Society for Microbiology, Food Microbiology Division

Chair

1993

1994

University of Tennessee, Department of Food Science and Technology

Department Head

2005

2013

University of Tennessee, Department of Plant Sciences

Chair, Department Head Search Committee

2008

2009

University of Tennessee, Agricultural Experiment Station

Chair, Assistant Dean Search Committee

2009

2010

Professional and Community Recognition

  • Fellow, American Academy of Microbiology
  • Fellow, Institute of Food Technologists
  • Fellow, International Association of Food Protection
  • Outstanding Alumni, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, University of Idaho, 2011
  • President’s Recognition Award, International Association of Food Protection, 2005
  • Member, USDA-Cooperative States Research, Education and Extension Service (CSREES) Review Team, Department of Food Science and Technology, Oregon State University, 2003
  • Distinguished Service Award, Institute of Food Technologists Food Microbiology Division, 2000
  • Distinguished Lecturer, Distinguished Lectureship Series, Institute of Food Technologists, 1999-2002
  • Team Award, as member of University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture, Agricultural Development Center, Omega Chapter, Epsilon Sigma Phi, 2001-2002
  • Co-Scientific Editor, Journal of Food Protection, 2001-present
  • Editorial Boards, Food Biotechnology, Probiotics and Antimicrobial Proteins, Journal of Food Safety (1990-2003)
  • Editorial Advisory Board, Taylor and Francis (Marcel Dekker) Publishing Inc., 1999-present
  • Associate Scientific Editor, Journal of Food Science, 1994-2000
  • Reviewer, National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Medicine, 2002, 2003
  • Distinguished Fellow, 14th International Workshop on Rapid Methods and Automation in Microbiology, Kansas State University, Manhattan, 1994
  • Outstanding Teaching Award, College of Agriculture, University of Tennessee, 1991
  • W.F. and Golda Moss Outstanding Teaching Award, College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, University of Tennessee, 2008