Applying to the Lab

Undergraduate application

Our team is committed to recruiting diverse undergraduate researchers to work with us. To facilitate this, we try our best to be transparent as to how Cornell undergraduate students can join our team. Typically, undergraduate students join us as either a paid undergraduate research assistant position or as an undergraduate doing research for credit, which would involve enrolling in an appropriate class such as FDSC 4990; BIOG 4990.

This table outlines the typical and preferred “career progression” for undergraduate students in our team. As detailed in this table, we (i) strongly encourage students to apply to join our team in their 1st or 2nd year (while some labs only take 3rd or 4th year students, we are not one of those labs) and (ii) we prefer to have students join our team for at least a year, ideally longer. We also believe that it is important for all students interested in research to first gain experience providing general lab help, such as media prep, dishwashing, and lab maintenance (taking out garbage etc.); these “back of the house” type activities are essential for a well-run group that does good research and our philosophy is that it is important that every researcher experiences this part of the research process and “lab life”.

We prefer for students to start at the beginning of a semester and interested students thus should apply at the end of preceding semester (e.g., in the spring 2022 semester to start in the fall 2022 semester) or within the first few days of the semester when they want to join our group. Applicants that pass the initial screen based on their cover e-mail and resume will be asked for an interview; typically about 1 out of 3 to 5 applicants will be accepted to work with our team.

Research projects in our lab focus on microbial food safety and food spoilage and may be lab focused (e.g., characterizing food spoilage organisms or pathogens for their ability to grow in foods, molecular characterization of organisms) or computationally focused (e.g., analysis of DNA sequence data, modeling related projects).


U-grad year (typical)


Appointment type

Initial hiring

1st or 2nd year

Help with media and dish room; opportunity to shadow research and to explore future research opportunities


Continued employment (after 2 to 4 semesters)

3rd to 4th year, may start in 2nd year for students that join us in their first year

Media and dish room with opportunity to do research for pay or for credit. Some students may elect to continue to only work in the dish room

Paid and/or for credit; it is not unusual for students to be paid to help in the media room and at the same time also take a few credits to do research. However, some students are also paid to do research.

Last year


Opportunity to do an honors thesis (as appropriate and if the student is eligible and interested). Some students may elect to continue to only work in the dish room and/or may do research that is not part of an honor’s thesis

Paid and/or for credit; it is not unusual for students to be paid to help in the media room and at the same time also take a few credits to do research. However, some students are also paid to do research.

In addition to research opportunities during the semester as detailed above, we also offer students opportunities to work with us over the summer; summer opportunities typically involve either (i) providing general lab support in the dish room (with opportunities to also participate in research) or (ii) full time research opportunities with a strong preference for students that have applied to and have been accepted to a summer research program, such as the Cornell Food science summer scholar program (see; students who perform summer research may have opportunities to continue research during the school year.

For positions in Fall2023, the application will start on May.15th, 2023.

Please send your CV/resume and one-page cover letter explaining your goals and motivations to Renato Orsi (rho2 [at] The application will be reviewed on a rolling basis. The preference will be given to students who apply earlier. 

Graduate application

The Milk Quality Improvement Program (MQIP) and Food Safety Lab (FSL) continuously recruit diverse individuals to join us as graduate students. We typically accept 1 – 3 new graduate students every year. While most students apply for fall admission, we also accept students that start their graduate programs in the spring. As our teams conduct interdisciplinary research on the evolution, ecology, transmission, and control of foodborne pathogens and spoilage organisms, students can join our team through the graduate fields of Food Science and Technology, Microbiology, Animal Science, and Biomedical and Biological Sciences. Students joining our team come from a broad range of science and technology backgrounds, including food science, veterinary medicine, microbiology, computer science, biotechnology, etc.  Prospective students working in this lab can gain interdisciplinary research experiences through collaboration with peers, technicians, and research associates from diverse backgrounds. 

If you are interested in joining our group as a graduate student, please apply to the appropriate field and mention your interest in our program. Please also feel free to directly reach out to Martin Wiedmann with a short cover email explaining your interest in our group and a CV/resume to explore opportunities.

We typically have opportunities for graduate students to select projects from diverse research areas that range from modeling transmission of foodborne pathogens and spoilage organisms to using whole genome sequencing to help us understand mechanisms that allow bacteria to cause foodborne illness. Examples of more specific research areas include but are not limited to (i) pre-harvest produce safety; (ii) Listeria transmission in processing facilities and built environments; (iii) evolution of virulence in Salmonella; (iv) application of whole genome sequencing to probe the transmission and evolution of Salmonella, Listeria, and Bacillus cereus; (v) stress response system in Listeria; (vi) predictive modeling of dairy food microbial spoilage; (vii) sporeforming bacteria in the dairy production and processing continuum; (viii) impact of distribution channels on dairy product quality; and (ix) safety of artisan dairy products and more.

Graduated students from our lab have then secured jobs in government, academia, industry, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the US and around the world. Many of them keep collaborating with our lab in their new jobs.

For general information about applying for graduate school, please refer to

Post-doc application

We will have more information soon about the application for post-doc positions.

Staff application

No open positions at the moment. 

Please send solicited and unsolicited applications to Renato Orsi (rho2 [at] or Martin Wiedmann (mw16 [at]