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Karl R. Matthews, Ph. D.


Teaching Philosophy

My intent through teaching is to encourage students to apply the knowledge they have to critically analyze situations and solve problems. Notwithstanding, students still need to know the basic terms used in the discipline but must advance beyond rote learning. I wish my students to be critical of what they hear, form their own opinions and be equipped to defend their opinions in an intelligent and articulate manner. Teaching requires active participation by the teacher and the student. My responsibility is to teach the student and the students’ responsibility is to learn; my job, as teacher is to make their job (learning) productive. As educators we must use innovative methods, respond enthusiastically to questions, and encourage our students to enthusiastically seek knowledge. I seek to understand the learning capabilities and goals of students in my classes; departing from conventional teaching methods to ensure the entire class develops the requisite skills and grasps the information presented to be successful in the future.

Interaction with students outside the classroom is integral to the learning process. I have no set office hours, rather I encourage students to visit when they have an opportunity and discuss issues relevant to the course and their undergraduate or graduate career. I encourage students to contact me by Email, particularly students that are employed full time or may travel extensively. I do not want students to feel I am unapproachable, creating an atmosphere in which students may feel I am not interested in their concerns and success.

Teaching Responsibilities

Undergraduate/graduate course:
  • Study Abroad: Food and Sustainability (11:400:315; 01:959:409): The course is designed to appreciate the nexus of food sustainability, food security, and food safety. Students will be exposed to everyday life in Nakhon Pathom, Kanchanaburi, and Phetchabun Thailand. The rich Thai culture will be highlighted across the rural to urban landscape rooted in over 2500 years of tradition. Students will learn the pathway of foods from: farm to processing, warehousing to transport, and retail (open market, supermarket, street vendor, and restaurant) to table.
Undergraduate Courses:
  • Current Issues in Food Science and Food Law (11:400:314): An interactive discussion facilitated course-covering topics including current food safety issues/controversies, obesity, nutrition, and consumer knowledge. Emphasis is placed on current issues that impact the food industry nationally and internationally. Regulations put forth by FDA and USDA and how they influence the safety of the food supply will be covered. Consumer knowledge and how the consumer perceives the food supply in terms of its wholesomeness and safety will underscore discussions.
Graduate Courses
  • Food Biology Fundamentals (16:400:514): The course is one of three core courses for students enrolled in graduate studies in the Department of Food Science graduate program. Prerequisites include Food Science Fundamentals I and general microbiology or chemistry. I serve as course coordinator; as such, I coordinate the activities and lecture dates of the other three co-instructors. The course covers two broad areas: Food Microbiology and Post-Harvest Technology. I present lectures on Gram-negative foodborne pathogens, spoilage organisms, and Food Law regulations.
  • Microbial Food Safety (16:400:605): An in-depth presentation of Microbial Food Safety from the farm to the table. Discussion encompasses a range of topics from safety of genetically modified microorganisms for use in food production to novel tools (HPP, cold-plasma, plant antimicrobials) for enhancing microbial safety of food. Emphasis is placed on applied technology rather than microbial theory.