Commentary from the Food Safety Network by Douglas Powell
I met this girl.
When I say such words they are usually followed by tragicomedy of the highest order.
But this time, so far, so good.
About the same time I met this girl last fall, I had lunch with the president of Kansas State University and a few others. Soon thereafter, K-State offered me a job.
So I took it.

I, and a whole bunch of folks I’ve been fortunate to work with, have been cranking out the Food Safety Network listerves for 11 years.We’ve dabbled in a number of research areas, developed a complete food safety information centre, and every day you get an e-mail from me. And that’s not going to change.
It all started with an invitation from Justin Kastner, who did his PhD with me at Guelph from 2000 to 2003. He got a professoring job in his hometown of Manhattan, Kansas, so when I needed a change of scenery to recharge my batteries last fall, Kastner was happy to host. Ben Chapman and I went on a bit of a roadtrip, eventually landing at Kansas State. We participated in the annual fall gathering at the Kastners’ home, a home run derby with whiffle balls, we tailgated with my future colleagues at a K-State football game, and the first business day featured a meeting with the Canadian Studies club, where I met this girl. Chapman left after a week, although he is returning in the summer for six weeks as part of a student exchange program. I stayed for three more.We had no plan. Just hang out, come up with new ideas, catch up with Kastner and others at Kansas State.
K-State, like most universities, has a student union building, except the bathrooms at the K-State Union feature all-in-one handwashing and drying units. I take pictures of such things. So do others (check out our new photoblogs at and ).
I included the picture in a departmental seminar I gave a few days later, flippantly suggesting that people didn’t appear to use the units, hands remain moist because of insufficient drying time, and that paper towel is more effective at reducing contaminants. But, what do I know; I said maybe the units do work, and that it should be up to the manufacturer to provide supporting data. On to the next slide.
Fortuitously, the dean of the veterinary college attended my seminar. Why?
Because he’s been getting FSnet for about eight of those 11 years. We exchanged pleasantries after the seminar, and then I got to have dinner with that girl I had met.
I had no expectations.
The next day, the dean met with the president of K-State on another matter, and mentioned, “Hey, you should meet this Powell guy who’s visiting,” and told him about my handwashing comments. Turns out the prez has always disliked those handwashing units.
Three days later, I met the president and others at the student union for lunch, but not before going to the restroom and sharing our mutual disdain for the handwashing unit.
Lunch was pleasant enough, we exchanged views on food safety, and within 30 minutes, the prez said, “We have to get you down here.” After 60 minutes, he said, “We have to get your whole lab down here.” Within a month I had a firm job offer (and the handwashing units are now complimented with paper towel dispensers). And now my paperwork has been sufficiently arranged, I have accepted that job offer and moved to Kansas.
Kansas State University has made significant investments to establish a top-notch food safety and security program, and I, along with the others at the Food Safety Network are privileged to be part of that team.
Oh, and I met this girl.
Douglas Powell is scientific director of the Food Safety Network at Kansas State University.