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].

Cheryl Lassitter joined the AOAC RI in 2022 as a technical consultant. She served as a federal lead chemist for NOAA and as a private sector chemistry technical lead as well as a NASA remote sensing analyst. Cheryl has over 30 years of experience in laboratory oversight, project implementation and development, algorithm authorship, laboratory analysis, quality control, analytical instrumentation, and authorship in chemistry/remote sensing journals and technical publications, (e.g., Journal of the AOAC International, (JAOAC), Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), Remote Sensing of Environment (RSE), and others).

Also, she has served as an Expert Reviewer for the AOACRI (2012-2020) for various projects, including an Oil Spill AOAC ERP Panel (Dr. Katerina Mastovska) and seafood sulfite and mercury analytical platforms (Dr. Sharon Brunelle). Further, Cheryl has functioned as a panelist and Vice-Chair of the AOAC Analytical Solutions Forum (2019-2022).

Cheryl’s education includes a Bachelor of Science in Geology with minors in physics, chemistry, and biology from the University of South Alabama. Her Master of Science degree includes organic and environmental geochemistry from the University of Southern Mississippi. Lassitter’s Ph.D. candidate work consists of satellite remote sensing and optical physics (Ph.D. Fellowship awarded from NASA, Stennis Space Center, Mississippi, USA). She is also a veteran of the U. S. Marine Corps. Cheryl can be contacted 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].

Karen Silbernagel has worked in food safety for 23 years, including project management at an expert laboratory, independent consulting with test kit method developers and 11 years of technical consulting with the AOAC RI and AOAC INTERNATIONAL coordinating microbiology method validation studies in the Performance Tested MethodsSM (PTM) and Official Methods of AnalysisSM (OMA) programs. Silbernagel earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of St. Thomas (St. Paul, MN) and a master’s degree in Clinical Laboratory Science with a microbiology focus from the University of Minnesota (Minneapolis, MN). Karen can be reached at [email protected].