Torrence, Mary E.

2010 Distinguished Alumni Awardee

Dr. Mary E. Torrence graduated from our College of Veterinary Medicine with her DVM in 1982. She began her veterinary career by working in a private veterinary practice in Charleston, West Virginia. Dr. Torrence then served as the State Veterinarian for West Virginia until 1987 before pursuing her doctoral studies in Veterinary Epidemiology and Public Health at the University of Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine. After receiving her PhD degree in 1990 she worked in several capabilities of increasing responsibility with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In 1998 she moved to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) where she has built a distinguished career as an epidemiologist in various departments. She currently holds the position of National Program Leader for Food Safety at the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in Beltsville, Maryland where she has oversight of all food safety research conducted by the USDA, ARS.

Board certified in the American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine, Dr. Torrence has spearheaded and sustained the USDA's National Research Initiative Epidemiological Approaches to Food Safety for 10 years. This program was instrumental in directing research funds specifically at veterinary public health issues from an epidemiological perspective. Over the life of the program, millions of dollars were allocated to food safety research, including several million dollars being awarded to researchers in our College. As a result of this NRI program, the nation's understanding of microbiological contamination of foods from farm to table, and possible control strategies, has improved dramatically.

Dr. Torrence has also been active in a wide range of other professional activities. She has been the lead or co-authored on numerous per-reviewed scientific publications ranging from studies of antibiotic resistant organisms and food safety to publications addressing improved methods to conduct and report epidemiological studies. She represents the veterinary profession on many national and international boards, committees, and expert panels. She is on the editorial board of several professional journals, served as the co-editor of an authoritative book on food safety, and as Editor-in-Chief of the journal Zoonoses and Public Health.

As a result of her tireless work in the field of public health and food safety Dr. Torrence has become one of the most influential individuals in the last 15 years to promote and expand the role of veterinary epidemiology and food safety in the U.S. Federal Government.