Our company’s mission statement is centered around consumer health and advancing science. This is embraced and emulated by each president of the past. As we look back, we recognize the success we have had as a company is only as great as our people. Among these great people, is our late president Dr. Russell Flowers. Read on to learn about his contribution to the food industry and science.
Expanding Laboratory Science
Dr. Russ Flowers began his storied food safety career with Silliker Laboratories in 1979, hired by Dr. John Silliker to further the laboratory’s competence and reputation in food microbiology. Dr. Flowers quickly became active in the growing food safety community through his well-recognized expertise in statistical sampling methodology, research and design analysis, and general knowledge of Salmonella and other foodborne pathogens.
His passion for rapid pathogen detection methods sparked a major research project to evaluate the ability of popular detection kits to detect pathogens in composited samples. This important research changed how molecular samples for E. coli O157 were composited, increased inoculum sizes for molecular tests, and increased the ability of new, improved test kits to detect this pathogen in low numbers in composited samples.
Dr. Flowers had a strong focus on laboratory quality and external collaboration, leading to a partnership with USDA to develop a working group aimed at setting laboratory quality standards. Food Laboratory Accreditation Working Group was the groundwork for what was to become The American Association for Laboratory Accreditation (A2LA).
During Dr. Flowers’ tenure at Silliker Labs, he worked aggressively to expand the geographic footprint in North America going from a just few laboratories to over 15 laboratories. He oversaw acquisitions in Canada, Mexico, and Australia during the 80’s and 90’s establishing Silliker as the dominant industry player at the time.
Food Industry Contribution
Dr. Flowers furthered his commitment to food safety with leadership roles in both The International Commission on Microbiological Specifications for Foods (ICMSF) and The International Association of Food Protection (IAFP). He has been a keynote address speaker at an IAFP annual meeting and founded the IAFP John H. Silliker Lecturer Award, which was set up to provide an avenue for recognized experts to present important and timely information on topics of significance to food protection.
IAFP recognized Dr. Flowers for his efforts with the Maurice Weber Laboratorian Award, presented to an individual for outstanding contributions in the laboratory, recognizing a commitment to the development of innovative and practical analytical approaches in support of food safety.
Dr. Flowers also spent many years involved with AOAC, culminating in his election as AOAC Chair. In 2013, AOAC awarded Dr. Flowers with the Harvey W. Wiley Award. The award, the highest scientific honor of the association, is presented to a scientist (or group of scientists) who has made an outstanding contribution to analytical method development in an area of interest to the association.
These are just a handful of career highlights of Dr. Russ Flowers’ devotion to keeping the public safe from foodborne illness.
Contact us to learn about how our people are continuing to advance science in the industry.