On September 24, 2020, the analytical science community lost a brilliant scientist and a friend with the passing of Dr. Russell D. Flowers.
Dr. Flowers contributed innumerable volunteer hours and a wealth of thoughtful guidance to support the mission of AOAC INTERNATIONAL. In addition to many years contributing his expertise in food microbiology, he was a Member of the AOAC Research Institute Board of Directors from 1996 to 2002, a Member of the AOAC INTERNATIONAL Board of Directors from 2003 to 2012, and served as AOAC INTERNATIONAL President from 2010 to 2011.
The news of his passing was received with sadness by AOAC colleagues, who described him as “a visionary,” “a great man and an amazing scientist,” “a leader in AOAC’s journey,” and “a kind and wonderful colleague.”
Dr. Flowers was a leading researcher, author and speaker in the field of food microbiology, with particular emphasis on the development and validation of rapid analytical methods and laboratory performance. He was the study director for the validation of the first Enzyme Immunoassay and Nucleic Acid Hybridization Assay approved by AOAC, and many subsequent studies that led to the industry-wide implementation of methods for the detection of pathogens in food and food environments. Dr. Flowers also chaired the Food Laboratory Accreditation Working Group that developed specific accreditation criteria adopted by AOAC and A2LA for food testing laboratories.
Dr. Flowers received Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees from North Carolina State University and his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois, prior to joining Dr. John Silliker and Damien Gabis in the very early days of Silliker laboratories. He began his career at the food testing organization as Laboratory Director and advanced to the position of President in 1990. In 1995, Dr. Flowers was instrumental in the setting of the partnership with the Mérieux family, which resulted in 1996 the creation of Mérieux NutriSciences. He served from 1996 to 2007 as the very first CEO of Mérieux NutriSciences. Dr. Flowers was then appointed as Chairman of the Board and Chief Scientific Officer. He retired in 2013.
The recipient of numerous industry awards and honors, Dr. Flowers was an active member of the several professional organizations and societies beyond AOAC INTERNATIONAL, including the International Commission on Microbiological Specifications for Foods, Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), International Association for Food Protection (IAFP) and the International Dairy Foods Association. He collaborated on over 7 books on microbiology and over 35 articles published in trade journals.