Hannah Bolinger – NoroCORE Food Virology

Hannah Bolinger

Hanna Bolinger

Hannah Bolinger
M.S., Nutritional Science
Rutgers University
Advisor: Dr. Don Schaffner

Hannah recently received her M.S. in Nutritional Science from Rutgers and is now working on her Ph.D. in Food Science at North Carolina State University. While at Rutgers, Hannah participated in a NoroCORE™-supported, multi-institutional prevalence study spearheaded by Clemson University. Hannah managed the logistics of identifying and communicating with an extensive list of New Jersey restaurants, as well as carried out the actual swabbing of restroom surfaces at each location. Her other project examined the survival of Bacteroides and Enterococcus bacteria on different surfaces, which may serve as alternative norovirus diagnostic tools.

Hannah said her research experience gave her new laboratory skills and refined others, as well as allowed her to delve into the intricacies of norovirus. She found noroviruses very interesting and the larger picture of norovirus transmission routes, host susceptibility, food handler activities, and other epidemiological aspects were what prompted her to pursue a Ph.D. She also really enjoyed working with her mentor, Dr. Don Schaffner. As for being part of the NoroCORE™ Collaborative, Hannah shared that it allowed her to understand the scope and impact of foodborne illness, and she enjoyed the opportunity to meet NoroCORE team members at the 2012 Atlanta conference.

“I have worked on smaller projects before and being part of such a large project really opened my eyes to its scope. I’d never heard of norovirus before. Sometimes with the smaller projects you are too focused on only the one thing you’re doing.”

She also had very positive things to say about the Fellowship award, which allowed her to overcome a challenging funding situation and focus on her studies and research.

“I cannot say enough how much that award meant to me. Before joining Dr. Schaffner’s lab I didn’t have funding, I had to take out a huge loan and look for jobs [which affected my studies]…This is the best thing that ever happened to me…I am really thankful to have the opportunity to work with NoroCORE.”

Hannah is currently working on her Ph.D., assessing the prevalence of Campylobacter and antibiotic resistance in turkey flocks. Following graduation, she hopes to go into industry, and then transition into a regulatory or other government position.