Patrick Bird brings to the position a 15-year career in food safety, with experience in developing and validating microbiological methods.  Bird is an active member of the food safety community, serving in numerous roles including manufacturing and laboratory management.  His focus is in diagnostic methods for microbiology, allergens, and mycotoxins. This work included independent laboratory evaluations for AOAC Official Methods of AnalysisSM (OMA), AOAC RI Performance Tested MethodsSM Program, and MicroVal and AFNOR NF Certification Programs.

Bird has been an active member in AOAC INTERNATIONAL for 10 years, currently serving as lead for the microbiology community for AOAC’s Technical Programming Council. He is an active member of the U.S. ISO/TC34/SC9 delegation and serves on two working groups: WG3 for Method Validation and WG19 for Guidelines for Conducting Challenge Studies. He holds a BS in microbiology from the Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, USA, and an MS in food safety from Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan, USA. Pat can be reached at [email protected].

Dr. Sharon Brunelle has worked with the AOAC RI and AOAC INTERNATIONAL since 2003 as a technical consultant coordinating microbiology and chemistry method validation studies in the Performance Tested MethodsSM (PTM) and Official Methods of AnalysisSM (OMA) programs. Brunelle also served as the technical lead for various contract-related and standards development projects within AOAC. She played a major role in developing guidelines for validation of biothreat agent methods and revising guidelines for validation of microbiology methods.

Prior to AOAC, she worked for 10 years in diagnostics development and validation, both in food microbiology and clinical oncology. Brunelle earned her bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Delaware and a PhD in biochemistry from Brandeis University. Her postdoctoral work was in medical biochemistry at Rockefeller University and the Picower Institute for Medical Research. Sharon can be reached at [email protected].

Dr. Dawn Dowell has worked with AOAC since 2003 as a technical consultant. Her main focus has involved coordination and completion of the annual PTM Program review. Prior to AOAC, she worked as a quality control microbiologist in the food and pharmaceutical industries. Dowell received a bachelor’s degree in biology with a minor in chemistry from Mount Olive University, Master’s of Business Administration, and Doctorate of Public Health specializing in epidemiology from Capella University. Dawn can be reached at [email protected].

Dr. Don Gilliland joined the AOAC RI team as a technical consultant in 2021. As an analytical chemist, Don brings to the position 30 years of experience working in the infant formula industry. His industry experience includes method development and validation with an additional focus on the study and characterization of sample matrix impacts. He has worked globally with both industry and governmental laboratories on method proficiency and laboratory efficiency.   

Since 2008, Don has been an active member of AOAC INTERNATIONAL and has volunteered in a number of capacities. In 2019, Don was selected as a Fellow of AOAC INTERNATIONAL, from 2015-2021 he served as a member of the AOAC Official Methods Board, and in 2020 he was elected to the Executive Committee of the Technical Division on Reference Materials (TDRM). Additionally, Don has served on the Stakeholder Panel on Infant Formula and Adult Nutritionals (SPIFAN) Expert Review Panel (ERP), chaired the SPIFAN Vitamin D Working Group and Stakeholder Panel on Strategic Food Analytical Methods (SPSFAM) ERP for ingredient nutrient methods, and co-chaired the AOAC Infant Formula Proficiency Testing Program Advisory Task Force.

Don earned a Bachelor of Science degree (Chemistry, ACS) from Muskingum College and a PhD in analytical chemistry from Purdue University. Don can be reached at [email protected]

Zerlinde Johnson was program manager for the AOAC RI PTM Program from 2005-2011 before moving back to southern California as a technical consultant for the AOAC RI. Prior to this, she conducted seven years of academic research with the Veterans Administration and University of Southern California, School of Medicine. She graduated from California State University, Northridge, with a BS in Biology. Zerlinde can be reached at [email protected].

Maria Nelson has worked with the AOAC RI and AOAC INTERNATIONAL since 2003 as a technical consultant coordinating microbiology and chemistry method validation studies in the Performance Tested MethodsSM (PTM) and Official Methods of AnalysisSM (OMA) programs. Nelson also served as a technical advisor for AOAC contract-related activities and microbiology validation guidelines. She has worked in the biotechnology industry developing a variety of test methods using many techniques, with 6 years specifically in developing and validating microbiological test kits. Nelson earned a bachelor’s degree in bacteriology and a master’s degree in microbiology from the University of California, Davis. Maria can be reached at [email protected].