Jasna Kovac, Ph.D.

  • Assistant Professor of Food Science
Jasna Kovac, Ph.D.
437 Rodney A. Erickson Food Science Building
University Park, PA 16803
Work Phone: 814-865-2883

Areas of Expertise

  • Food Microbiology
  • Food Safety
  • Foodborne Pathogens [Campylobacter, Bacillus cereus, Salmonella]
  • Antimicrobial Resistance
  • Epidemiology
  • Comparative, Functional and Evolutionary Genomics
  • Metagenomics


The goal of my research lab is to advance understanding of genetic and environmental factors driving:

(i) expression of virulence factors;
(ii) evolution of antimicrobial resistance;
(iii) transmission of foodborne pathogens.

We use precision food safety approach, including comparative genomics and metagenomics to generate knowledge needed for development of effective intervention strategies leading to a safer and sustainable food supply chain.

Research Opportunity

I am looking for a PhD student interested in microbiomes and resistomes of the food supply chain. More information available here: For questions regarding this opportunity please contact Jasna Kovac by email at .

Applications must be made directly to a Department of Food Science by December 15th, citing the mBiome cohort program in the cover letter."

Lab members

Manjari Mukherjee, PhD student

Tae Jung Chung, MS student

Timothy Fitzgerald, undergraduate student of Immunology and Infectious Disease

Sarah Koay, undergraduate student of Food Science

Thomas Pastor, undergraduate student of Food Science



Miller, R. A., Jian, J., Beno, S. M., Wiedmann, M., Kovac, J.*. 2018. Intraclade variability in toxin production and cytotoxicity of Bacillus cereus group type strains and dairy-associated isolates. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, doi: 10.1128/AEM.02479-17.

Goodman, L. B., Lawton, M. R., Franklin-Guild, R. J., Anderson, R. R., Schaan, L., Thachil, A. J., Wiedmann, M., Miller, C. B., Alcaine, S. D.*, Kovac, J.*. 2017. Lactococcus petauri sp. nov. is a new species isolated from an abscess of a sugar glider. International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology, doi:10.1099/ijsem.0.002303.

Carroll, L. M., Kovac, J.*, Miller, R. A., Wiedmann, M. 2017. Rapid, high-throughput identification of anthrax-causing and emetic Bacillus cereus group genome assemblies using BTyper, a computational tool for virulence-based classification of Bacillus cereus group isolates using nucleotide sequencing data. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, doi:10.1128/AEM.01096-17

Weller, D., Kovac, J., Roof, S., Kent, D, Tokman, J., Kowalcyk, B., Oryang, D., Ivanek, R., Aceituno, A., Sroka, C., Wiedmann, M. 2017. Survival of Escherichia coli on lettuce under field conditions encountered in the Northeastern United States. Journal of Food Protection, 80(7), 1214-1221.

Weller, D. L., Kovac, J., Kent, D. J., Roof, S., Tokman, J. I., Mudrak, E., Kowalcyk, B., Oryang, D., Aceituno, A., Wiedmann, M. 2017. Escherichia coli transfer from simulated wildlife feces to lettuce during foliar irrigation: A field study in the Northeastern United States. Food Microbiology, 68: 24-33.

Kovac, J., den Bakker, H., Carroll, L. M., Wiedmann, M. 2017. Precision food safety: a systems approach to food safety facilitated by genomics tools. TrAC Trends in Analytical Chemistry. In Press,

Kovac, J., Stessl., B., Cadez, N., Gruntar, I., Cimerman, M., Stingl, K., Lusicky, M., Ocepek, M., Wagner, M., Smole Mozina, S. 2017. Population structure and attribution of human clinical Campylobacter jejuni isolates from central Europe to livestock and environmental sources. Zoonoses and Public Health, doi: 10.1111/zph.12366

Liao, J., Wiedmann, M., Kovac, J*. 2017. Genetic stability and evolution of sigB allele used for Listeria sensu stricto subtyping and phylogenetic inference. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, doi:10.1128/AEM.00306-17.

Kovac, J., Cummings, K. J., Rodriguez-Rivera, L. D., Carroll, L. M., Thachil, A., Wiedmann, M. 2017. Temporal genomic phylogeny reconstruction indicates a geospatial transmission path of Salmonella Cerro in the United States and a clade-specific loss of hydrogen sulfide production. Frontiers in Microbiology, doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2017.00737.

Miller, A. R., Beno, S. M., Kent, D. J., Carroll, L. M., Martin, N. H., Boor, K. J., Kovac, J*. 2016. Bacillus wiedmannii sp. nov. is a new psychrotolerant and cytotoxic Bacillus cereus group species isolated from dairy foods and environments in the USA. International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology, Accepted for publication on Aug 12, doi: 10.1099/ijsem.0.001421.

Kovac, J., Miller, R. A., Carroll, L. M., Kent, D. J., Jian, J., Beno, S. M., Wiedmann, M. 2016. Production of hemolysin BL by Bacillus cereus group isolates of dairy origin is associated with whole-genome phylogenetic clade. BMC Genomics, 17:581, doi: 10.1186/s12864-016-2883-z.

Kovac, J., Cadez, N., Stessl, B., Stingl, K., Gruntar, I., Ocepek, M., Trkov, M., Wagner, M. and Mozina, S.S., 2015. High genetic similarity of ciprofloxacin-resistant Campylobacter jejuni in central Europe. Frontiers in Microbiology, 6:1169, doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2015.01169.

Kovac, J., Simunovic, K., Wu, Z., Klancnik, A., Bucar, F., Zhang, Q. and Mozina, S.S., 2015. Antibiotic resistance modulation and modes of action of (-)-α-pinene in Campylobacter jejuni. PLoS One, 10(4):e0122871, doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0122871.

Nagy, B., Szmolka, A., Mozina, S.S., Kovac, J., Strauss, A., Schlager, S., Beutlich, J., Appel, B., Lusicky, M., Aprikian, P. and Pászti, J., 2015. Virulence and antimicrobial resistance determinants of verotoxigenic Escherichia coli (VTEC) and of multidrug-resistant E. coli from foods of animal origin illegally imported to the EU by flight passengers. International Journal of Food Microbiology, 209:52-9, doi: 10.1016/j.ijfoodmicro.2015.06.026.

Videnska, P., Rahman, M.M., Faldynova, M., Babak, V., Matulova, M.E., Prukner-Radovcic, E., Krizek, I., Smole-Mozina, S., Kovac, J., Szmolka, A. and Nagy, B., 2014. Characterization of egg laying hen and broiler fecal microbiota in poultry farms in Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovenia. PLoS One, 9(10):e110076, doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0110076.

Kovac, J., Gavaric, N., Bucar, F. and Smole Mozina, S., 2014. Antimicrobial and Resistance Modulatory Activity of Alpinia katsumadai Seed Phenolic Extract, Essential Oil and Post-Distillation Extract. Food Technology and Biotechnology, 52(2), 248-254.

Janez, N., Kokosin, A., Zaletel, E., Vranac, T., Kovac, J., Vuckovic, D., Mocina, S.S., Serbec, V., Zhang, Q., Accetto, T. and Podgornik, A., 2014. Identification and characterisation of new Campylobacter group III phages of animal origin. FEMS Microbiology Letters, 359(1), 64-71.

Kovac, J., Cadez, N., Lusicky, M., Nielsen, E.M., Ocepek, M., Raspor, P. and Mozina, S.S., 2014. The evidence for clonal spreading of quinolone resistance with a particular clonal complex of Campylobacter jejuni. Epidemiology and Infection, 142(12), 2595-2603.

Klancnik, A., Gröblacher, B., Kovac, J., Bucar, F. and Mozina, S.S., 2012. Anti-Campylobacter and resistance-modifying activity of Alpinia katsumadai seed extracts. Journal of Applied Microbiology, 113(5),1249-1262


FD SC 409 – Laboratory in Food Microbiology

Research Interests

Food Safety Researchers

Precision food safety supported by (meta)genomics. Transmission and evolution of pathogens and antimicrobial resistance in the food supply chain. Characterization of virulence factors and antimicrobial resistance determinants in foodborne pathogens. Focus on Campylobacter, Salmonella, Bacillus cereus group.

Food Microbiology