CSU food safety and nutrition champion receives career award

Marisa Bunning, associate professor in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition and Extension specialist, was given one of Colorado State University Extension’s highest awards last week. She received the F.A. Anderson Award, which recognizes outstanding performance by an Extension professional throughout his or her career.

photo of Bunning
Bunning with her award

Bunning was honored during an awards banquet as part of “Forum,” an on-campus, weeklong professional development opportunity for all Colorado Extension agents from throughout the state. Forum is an opportunity for Extension agents and on-campus specialists to meet and discuss upcoming issues and develop strategies for tackling them. CSU Extension, part of the Office of Engagement, serves all Colorado counties and provides reliable, research-based information, research capabilities and resources to all Coloradoans.

Virtually all of Bunning’s research funding — all linked to food safety Extension efforts — has involved multiple departments and colleges at CSU and community shareholders.

Collaborative approach

Bunning has championed the use of social media, webinars, websites and online content, allowing her to further develop strong collaborations and an extensive communication network with Extension agents, community partners and their local audiences.

“Dr. Bunning’s research and outreach directly impact nutritional decisions and behavior of Colorado’s citizens and beyond,” said Lou Swanson, director of Extension and vice president of the Office of Engagement. “CSU Extension continues to greatly benefit from her scholarly engagement.”

Bunning’s commitment to collaboration includes the development of educational materials targeted to produce growers in 2012. This program helped producers understand the fundamentals of developing a farm safety plan, and was an important step in improving on-farm food safety in Colorado, especially following the Listeria outbreak associated with Colorado-grown melons.

Bunning worked closely with other CSU researchers and producers in response to that Listeria outbreak, collaborating with College of Agricultural Sciences faculty to develop a Melon Task Force. They implemented a strategic plan to improve all practices related to the production, distribution and consumption of melons. From September to December 2011, Bunning and collaborators secured more than $37,000 in funding; hosted a seminar with more than 130 participants, including food safety experts from federal and state agencies; and responded to media requests by numerous state and national television, newspaper and radio programs.

‘Highly regarded’

“Marisa’s career as an Extension specialist should be used as a template for how to work and make a difference through collaboration,” said Michael Pagliassotti, head of the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition. “She is highly regarded for her expertise in food safety, her passion for serving the public, her ability to mentor students and as someone who fosters an inclusive environment.”

Bunning is the project director for the CSU Farm-to-Table Food Safety website and co-director of the Colorado Farm-to-Market website. These two complementary websites were developed by CSU Extension with funding from the Colorado Department of Agriculture and contain information on food safety for consumers, producers, small-scale processors, educators and direct marketers. She has also been active in providing educational efforts to support cottage food producers in Colorado.

Most recently, Bunning became a co-director of the CSU Center for Food Safety and the Prevention of Foodborne Disease, a collaboration that includes the Colorado School of Public Health and Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

The Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition is in CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.

More 2015 Extension awards.