Produce Safety Team

Interested in Joining our Lab?

We are always looking for motivated and interested students. Please email Dr. Gutierrez-Rodriguez with your inquiry.

Eduardo Guttierrez-Rodriguez

Principal Investigator

Eduardo Gutierrez-Rodriguez

Associate Professor in Fresh Produce Safety
(970) 491-3192

Dr. Gutierrez-Rodriguez has over 20 years of research, extension and business experience in food safety focusing on fresh produce and minimally processed food environments. His research centers on understanding the microbial ecology of human pathogens within farm and food processing environments looking at microbial interactions, risk assessment and remediation practices that can sustain fruit and vegetable production and reduce transfer of human pathogens into the food supply chain. He has worked with the food industry in Latin America and the U.S supporting FSMA training in fresh produce, preventive controls for human food and in the foreign supplier verification regulations.

His involvement in the food industry includes guiding research and development and quality assurance departments in the US and Costa Rica and in the development of benchmarks for process validation on farms, water systems, washing fresh produce, sanitation and preservation practices. He has also worked with the food and chemical industry in the US assisting registration of antimicrobial products with FDA and EPA and in the development of strategies to reduce transfer of pathogens and AMR within diversified farming systems and ready to eat foods.

Lab Members

Food Safety lab group

Dr. Toni Patton

Lab Manger
Working on GLPs, Cantaloupe SIP and Water Food Safety

Valeria Santillan Oleas

MS student
Working on Water and Carrot Food Safety

Laura Araujo

Visting Scientist Zamorano
Working on Carrot and Water Food Safety

Blake Hoffman

Undergraduate student
Working on CEA Food Safety

Griffin Carpenter

MS Student
Working on Onion Food Safety

Beckett Olbrys

Undergraduate student
Working on SIP and Onion Food Safety

Marlon Alvarado

Visiting Scientist Zamorano
Working on Carrot and Water Food Safety

Past Lab Members

Luvina Castillo

Visiting scientist Zamorano
Project related to Soil sampling

Vanessa Alvarado

Undergraduate student
Worked on SBRI project Solar Managed Refrigeration Units

Shaley Toureene

Undergraduate student
Worked on overall program support

Emilijia Miskinyte

Undergraduate student
Worked on overall program support

Our Team Expectations

Lab Member Expectations

Undergraduate, Graduate and Postdoctoral education are critical components for most careers in science where people value independence, development of ideas, collaboration and upward mobility.  If you decide to join my lab, this is what you can expect from me and what I will be expecting of you based on your career level.


Undergraduate Students

When you join my lab in this capacity, I understand that you are looking to gain experience in an applied and basic science research lab and that you need money. Like any other job, if you commit to a certain number of hours a week, we expect for you to be there and if you will not be able to come to work, that you informed us (24h notice) by email and through a phone call of the reasons for your absence. We understand that you have exams and many other coursework related activities during the semester, and we try to accommodate in advance any needs that will help you get ready for exams and other deliverables, but we hope you also understand that many experiments can’t wait for our own special needs and that we have a responsibility to the funding agencies that support our work.  You need to coordinate with me or the lab manager your involvement before the semester begins and no later than the first week of class. Your direct involvement in projects is based on lab manager assignments instead of graduate student, postdoc or visiting scientist last minute requests.  

Masters Students

As a MSc student my philosophy to this 2-year degree is that you are most likely looking for a career in the industry or in extension or you might not be sure if a PhD is right for you. Irrespective of which is the initial path, at the end of the program my expectation is that you have a clear, practical and midlevel understanding of science and either midlevel industry or extension knowledge of current practices. This would translate into one peer review publication before graduation and your potential participation in a national or international symposium.  

PhD Students

My philosophy and expectations for a 4-year PhD degree is that you are will become an expert in a well-defined area of science and that you have the skills and ethics needed to do and disseminate science at a high level. This would translate into three peer review publications (two of them ready before graduation), your participation in one or two national or international symposia and that you have convince your graduate advisory group of your mastery in the field of choice.


I expect all graduate students to obtain at least a B in each of your courses, to pass your qualifying exam (if applicable) on your first try, to develop and write your own proposals and/or publications in collaboration with faculty mentors, to develop and maintain up to date your individual development plan (IDP) and to work and look for opportunities to mentor undergraduate students that work in our lab and that facilitate your daily activities. It’s also imperative that your coordinate with me and the lab manager your lab and supply needs; especially if you require support from more than one undergraduate student or staff member. We need this information at least 2 weeks in advance of the day you need support or supplies.

Postdoctoral or Research Scientist

If you join my lab as a postdoctoral researcher or research scientist, I expect for you to have excellent interpersonal, verbal and written communication skills and that you lead by example. I understand that you have earned a high educational level, but this doesn’t mean that you are exempt from working in the lab, getting your hands dirty and from assisting staff and lab members in greenhouse, field or laboratory activities. I also understand that this will probably be your last step before becoming independent, which means that grant writing, publications (at least one per year) and mentoring without compromising lab dynamics must be your main priority.   If you have papers to finish from your graduate work, I expect for you to complete them in a timely manner (six months) and to do so, outside lab work ours. You need to work with me on pursuing funding opportunities while also keeping your IDP up to date and clearly indicating your career goals. This latter aspect is crucial for me to be able to help you move towards these goals. Contracts will be renewed each year depending on progress towards these goals (2 quarterly evaluations) and to give you at least 3-month notice if you need to begin looking for a new opportunity.

Staff members – lab manager or hourly employees

Please remember that we work in a collaborative and respectful lab environment and that lab decisions are based on mutual input; however, I have the final say and you report to me instead of graduate students, postdoctoral scholars or research scientists. You are an extension of me when I am not around, and you need to uphold at all times lab and BSL2 practices. Lab managers, you will be assigned at least one project that will be your responsibility besides supporting other lab members with their needs.  Please know that in some instances, some cool and last-minute projects may show up and we will need to work together to make it happen, but I expect you to be the balancing force between current lab needs and last-minute cool ideas.  Please also make sure that we have a clear understanding of your career goals and that we work together to help you achieve them.

To all lab members

Irrespective of where you are in your career, you need to be a TEAM player and have passion, determination, thick skin, respect and a sense of humor for those moments in which things are not working out. Any lab member that breaks BSL2 guidelines or procedures will be subject to the necessary CSU disciplinary actions. We need to help and protect each other by following at all times lab and BSL2 practices for the safety and wellbeing of all lab members.

Please remember that in most cases success is not only linked to the number of hours you work in a week, but to the quality of work done in those hours. Working 40h a week is different than being in the lab 40h a week.  It’s all about a quality of work. You all are eligible for 22-day paid vacation per year + national and seasonal holidays.

Please also know that as much as I have tried, I am not able to read minds or to know people’s feelings. I keep an open door and phone call policy and I need you to chat with me about what you need in order for me to be able to help you.  Please help me help you by taking the time to chat or bring to my attention all your needs. If you need time away from the lab, we can plan on a process to modify your expectations while we meet all CSU policies. Please help the lab look good by exceling in your class work, commitment, behavior, research, and citizenship.

I have zero tolerance to discrimination, sexual harassment, bullying or any other type of abuse between lab members. Please make sure you inform me of any issues of this nature before taking any actions from your side. I will follow CSU policies to address any of these issues.

Because of the nature of experiments and activities we conduct in the lab, I need you to let me know in advance of any medical issues or treatments that may compromise your immunity. We have numerous antibiotic resistant organisms that under normal health conditions may not impact your health, but this might change if your immune system is compromised.

Lab meetings

We try to have weekly or biweekly lab meetings. During this time, we go over lab needs, every lab member provides a quick summary of their projects and we go over one paper of my or your choice that is presented to the lab for no longer than 15 min. After the presentation is completed, we will discuss for 15min the topic and we expect everyone to read the paper and provide feedback.  If this is your first time presenting in the lab, please make sure that I go over the slides with you before the presentation.

My commitment to you

If you have decided to work in our lab, I want to thank you for the opportunity, and I will do my best to help you succeed. I care deeply about your physical and mental health and I strive to establish a race, gender, social class and sexual orientation neutral lab environment, where national and international individuals pursuing careers in Horticulture, Food, Soil or Animal Sciences are imbedded in research projects, guest lectures, workshops and outreach activities in the community and abroad.

I promise to be your number one cheerleader, mentor you in the scientific process, review your documents within 72h of receiving them, review your IDP at least once a year and discuss any changes or needs after our review. I also promise to meet with you as needed and to have weekly or biweekly meetings where we discuss your progress and needs and any other career development opportunities that may come to my attention. For graduate students I will support you to attend at least one conference in which you will present at least a poster and invite you to work on side projects as long as they don’t interfere with your lab responsibilities.  I will do my best to have and increase funding opportunities that will support you and if for some reason you consider that I have broken any of these promises, that you have all the necessary channels to talk to me about this issue. If for some reason you don’t consider this to be appropriate and productive, you should contact the department head, Dr. Jessica Davis or the office of equal opportunity branch of conflict resolutions who can set up an independent arbitration process.