Dr. Schmitz-Esser, Associate Professor in the Department of Animal Science, has been working on two major research projects that could change the way we manage food safety and rumen diet. Currently, he is working with several grad students trying to discover more on a huge problem in food safety today: Food contamination with Listeria monocytogenes. Listeriosis poisoning results from contamination of food, specifically ready-to-eat food such as cold meat, by Listeria monocytogenes and can affect people of all ages. In pregnant women poisoning can result in miscarriage, premature delivery or stillbirth. Dr. Schmitz-Esser’s group focuses on how Listeria monocytogenes survives in food production environments and hopes to understand their mechanisms so he can help food producers reduce the risk imposed to humans.
Another center of interest is that in the area of animal metagenomics. Dr. Schmitz-Esser’s team in conjunction with Dr. Mark Lyte and his group of ISU Veterinary Medicine are working on analyzing the bacteria that live on the Rumen wall. The Rumen is the characteristic fermentation chamber of ruminants and is responsible for digestion of cellulose material from feed, such as hay. Dr. Schmitz Esser says “We would like to understand the function of the microbes that live on the Rumen wall. We currently believe that they act as gatekeepers at the interface between the rumen content and the animal and are interested in the nutrient exchange between bacteria and animal. We do this in hopes to give advice to farmers for appropriate diets for their animals.”
Dr. Schmitz-Esser has offices and a lab on second and third floors of the National Swine Research and Information Center, adjacent from Kildee Hall.