Combined Acidified Foods and Better Process Control School

Instructor Biographies


Dr. Glenn Black is Associate Director for Research, Division of Food Processing Science and Technology (DFPST), Office of Food Safety (OFS), Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN), U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) jointly located at the Institute for Food Safety and Health (IFSH), in Bedford Park, IL.  In this role, he provides guidance and support for research conducted at the center in the areas of food microbiology, processing, chemistry, packaging and serves as a subject matter expert for food processing related issues. Prior to joining the agency, Dr. Black served various roles in the food industry related to the evaluation and recommendation of processing equipment and parameters, as well as research and development in microbial food safety.  


Dr. Robert E. Brackett serves as Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) Vice President and Director of the Institute for Food Safety and Health (IFSH). In this capacity, he serves on the IIT administrative leadership team, as well as directs the scientific and training programs at IFSH.  Dr. Brackett has over 30 years of experience in food safety research, training, and policy.  Prior to coming to IIT, Dr. Brackett served as Senior Vice President and Chief Science and Regulatory officer for the Washington D.C. based Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA).  Before joining GMA, he served at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (FDA CFSAN), where he started as a senior microbiologist in the Office of Plant and Dairy Foods and Beverages in 2000.  After several promotions, Dr. Brackett was appointed CFSAN Director, where from 2004-2007 he provided executive leadership to CFSAN’s development and implementation of programs and policies relative to the composition, quality, safety and labeling of foods, food and color additives, dietary supplements and cosmetics. Earlier in his career, Dr. Brackett held professorial positions with North Carolina State University in Raleigh, and the University of Georgia.
Dr. Brackett is a fellow in the International Association for Food Protection and American Academy of Microbiology and is a member of the International Association for Food Protection, Institute of Food Technologists, the American Society for Microbiology, Association of Food and Drug Officials, AOAC, and the Food and Drug Law Institute. He has been honored with the FDA Award of Merit, the FDA Distinguished Alumni Award, the Department of Health and Human Services Secretary’s Award for Distinguished Service, and the International Association for Food Protection's President’s Appreciation Award, and, the William C. Frazier Food Microbiology Award.  Dr. Brackett received his doctorate in food microbiology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


Dr. Kathir Krishnamurthy is a Clinical Assistant professor in the Department of Food Science and Nutrition at the Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago. His research primarily focuses on applications of nonthermal processing technologies for ensuring food safety. Dr. Krishnamurthy had been working with pulsed light processing for over a decade. Other research interests of Dr. Krishnamurthy include advanced thermal processing technologies, heat transfer, modeling, and simulation.
Dr. Krishnamurthy has authored and co-authored numerous peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters. He is an editorial board member of three international journals and had been widely cited in various biographical citations such as “Who’s who in the world”. He received many noteworthy awards including “Sigma Xi Award (junior faculty division)”; “Excellence in Teaching Award”; “Educational Excellence Award” from the Illinois Institute of Technology; and “Outstanding Volunteer Award” from the Nonthermal Processing Division of Institute of Food Technologists (IFT).  Dr. Krishnamurthy currently serves as the chair of the Nonthermal processing division of IFT and as one of the editors for “Food Engineering Reviews”.  Dr. Krishnamurthy holds leadership positions at various organizations such as IFT, Phi Tau Sigma, and Sigma Xi. 


Mr. Thomas (Tom) Ragusa has 40 years of experience in food and beverage packaging, thermal processing and food and beverage microbiology. His company, Thermal Processing Technology’s client list includes both large multinationals companies, as well as small family owned canning facilities.  The company provides quality assurance programs for Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and Low-acid canned food regulations compliance. Thermal Process Technology provides courses on food processing and packaging and in-plant seminars.
Mr. Ragusa has experience in conducting spoilage exams in both low-acid and high acid foods, inoculated pack studies, biotesting of containers, and other biological tests. In the area of thermal processing, he has extensive experience conducting heat penetration tests, temperature distribution tests, suggesting thermal processes, and evaluating thermal process deviations. 
He is the author and distributor of WinCalctm thermal processing software and Winlogger (a time/temperature datalogger).
Mr. Ragusa is a U.S. Patent holder for; ‘Process for the Preservation of Green Color in Canned Vegetables, September 25, 1984, # 4,473,591 and a publication, ‘Biological Evaluation of a Heat Transfer Simulation for Sterilizing Low-Acid Large Particulate Foods for Aseptic Packaging’; Journal of Food Processing and Preservation 13 (1989) 257-274 with W. P. Segner, T. J. Ragusa, C.L. Marcus, E. A. Soutter;  .
Mr. Ragusa has a M.S. degree in Food Science from the University of Illinois and a M.B.A. from Illinois Benedictine College.  He is a member of the Institute for Thermal Processing Specialists.


Mr. William (Bill) Smialek’s 41- year career in food processing and packaging began with Swift Processed Meats as a Plant Quality Assurance Technician and later the Plant Microbiologist. After returning to school and completing graduate work, he joined the American Can Company Packaging Technical Services group as a Coordinator, Packaging Technology.  In that capacity, Mr. Smialek worked with vegetable, fruit, seafood, meat, infant formula and beer/carbonated beverage customers across the U.S., gaining experience in the handling, processing and distribution of metal containers, metal closures and retortable plastic, barrier plastic and retort pouch packaging.
Mr. Smialek worked extensively in the thermal processing of canned and pouched foods, becoming and remaining a Thermal Processing Authority.  He instructed at fifteen American Can/American National Can industry thermal processing seminars over a span of fourteen years and was a member of the NFPA (National Food Processors Association, now the Consumer Brands Association) Thermal Processing and Packaging Committees.  Mr. Smialek sat on the Board of the Food Processors Institute (FPI) of the CBA for several years.  During his career, he instructed at more than twenty-five Better Process Control Schools and continues to do so in retirement.  He is also currently acting as a Co-Editor for the upcoming 9th edition of the Canned Foods Manual.
Prior to his retirement in October 2017, Mr. Smialek was the Area Manager of Customer Technical Service at Silgan Containers, Oconomowoc, WI.  He supervised the activities of Technical Service Representatives holding responsibility for approximately one-half of Silgan’s customer base.  This encompassed work with those customers in the areas of thermal processing, package innovation, package materials, development, handling and applications and complaint investigation/resolution across the U.S., Caribbean and several international locations.
Mr. Smialek earned a B.S. in Biology from Benedictine University, Lisle, IL and a M.S. in Food Science, at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, IL.  His research work focused on water activity and water functionality with food proteins and starches. While at Silgan Containers, Mr. Smialek also earned a M.B.A. at the DeVry University Keller Graduate School of Management, Schaumburg, IL.  He is a member of the Institute of Packaging Professionals, Institute for Thermal Processing Specialists, and the Institute of Food Technologists.


Dr. Akhila Vasan is Manager, Food Safety at the Institute for Food Safety and Health (IFSH) where she provides food safety advisory support and industry outreach through research and training programs. Through her role, Dr. Vasan works with clients to navigate the complex regulatory space and provides guidance on bringing products to market.
Dr. Vasan was previously Manager, Food Safety & Education at the Grocery Manufacturers Association, Science and Education Foundation (GMA SEF) where she led multiple capacity development projects to provide foundational food safety education for industry executives and personnel. She has developed eLearning and blended learning programs on Sanitation, Allergens, Thermal Processing, Verification & Validation, among other need based topics. She is a lead instructor for HACCP Train-the-Trainer, Better Process Control School, GFSI Global Markets Program, and others. She has significant experience integrating learning styles across cultures and has worked in India, Vietnam, Indonesia, and the Caribbean.
Dr. Vasan earned a Doctor of Philosophy from University of Wisconsin – Madison, where her research focused on evaluating the survival of foodborne pathogens when exposed to thermal stress in varying products. She has a Master’s of Science in Food Science from Oklahoma State University and a Bachelor’s in Chemical Engineering from India.
Dr. Vasan continues to publish in peer reviewed publications, has co-authored book chapters and invited articles, and has presented her work in local and international meetings. She is the co-editor of the 9th Edition: Canned Foods Manual, the FDA and USDA required text for the Better Process Control School.

Craig Reinhart, BSE

Mr. Craig Reinhart is a Senior Process Technical Specialist with Tetra Pak Inc. based in Vernon Hills, Illinois, outside of Chicago.  He acts as Quality Driver and Food Safety Lead for US and Canada, supplying regulatory and quality assurance support within Tetra Pak.  He has acted as Project Manager and Process Engineer for numerous aseptic and ESL system installations.  Mr. Reinhart is recognized within Tetra Pak as a technical liaison between processors, regulatory agencies and process authorities on system implementation projects.  Prior to joining Tetra Pak in 2001, Mr. Reinhart was with Cherry–Burrell Process Equipment for 18 years in various engineering, project management, product management and engineering management roles.
Mr. Reinhart earned a BSE in Chemical Engineering from The University of Michigan.  He is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP).  He is a member of Institute for Thermal Processing Specialists (IFTPS), American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), International Society of Automation (ISA), Project Management Institute (PMI) and GMA’s Process and Emerging Technologies Committee (PETCo).  Mr. Reinhart was a member of the NFPA 43L Ad-Hoc Committee which wrote Validation Guidelines for Automated Control of Food Processing Systems Used for the Processing and Packaging of Preserved Foods (GMA Bulletin 43-L).