Jasna Kovac, Ph.D.

Jasna Kovac, Ph.D.

  • Lester Earl and Veronica Casida Career Development Professor of Food Safety
  • Assistant Professor of Food Science
437 Rodney A. Erickson Food Science Building
University Park, PA 16803

Areas of Expertise

  • Microbial Food Safety
  • Foodborne Pathogens
  • Genomic Epidemiology
  • Microbiomes in Food Systems
  • Antimicrobial Resistance


  • BSc - University of Ljubljana (Microbiology, concentration: Microbial Biotechnology), 2011
  • PhD - University of Ljubljana (Biosciences, concentration: Biotechnology), 2015
  • Visiting scholar - University of Graz (Bucar lab), 2011
  • Visiting scholar - Iowa State University (Zhang lab), 2012
  • FEMS Fellow - Oxford University (Maiden lab), 2014
  • Erasmus Fellow - University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna (Wagner lab, Stessl group), 2015
  • Postdoc - Cornell University (Wiedmann lab), 2015 - 2017


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

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

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

Lab Members

Visit our lab website.

Graduate students

Graduate Programs

PhD Dual-Title Degree Programs


  • FDSC 409 - Laboratory in Food Microbiology (Fall semester; 2 cr; next offered in FA21)
  • FDSC 517 - Microbial Genomic Epidemiology (Spring semester; 3 cr; next offered in SP22)
  • FDSC 497 - Microbial Whole-Genome Sequence Analyses (Spring; 1 cr; next offered in SP21)
  • FDSC/INTAG 460 - Food Production in Italy (Spring break; study abroad; 1 cr; next offered in SP23 break)
  • FDSC 496 - Independent Studies (all semesters; variable cr; all semesters)
  • FDSC 600/MCIBS 600 - Thesis Research (all semesters, variable cr; all semesters)
  • FDSC 494H - Honors Thesis - (all semesters, variable cr; all semesters) 


Exploring the relationship between gender and food safety risks in the dairy value chain in Ethiopia
International Dairy Journal, Garsow, Ariel, Biondi, Marie, Kowalcyk, Barbara, Vipham, Jessie, Kovac, Jasna, Amenu, Kebede, Zewdu, Ashagrie, Colverson, Kathleen, 2022

Kin discrimination promotes horizontal gene transfer between unrelated strains in Bacillus subtilis
Nature Communications, Stefanic, Polonca, Belcijan, Katarina, Kraigher, Barbara, Kostanjšek, Rok, Nesme, Joseph, Madsen, Jonas Stenløkke, Kovac, Jasna, Sørensen, Søren Johannes, Vos, Michiel, Mandic-Mulec, Ines, 2021

Alicyclobacillus mali sp. nov., Alicyclobacillus suci sp. nov. and Alicyclobacillus fructus sp. nov., thermoacidophilic sporeforming bacteria isolated from fruit beverages.
International journal of systematic and evolutionary microbiology, Roth, K, Rana, Y, Daeschel, D, Kovac, Jasna, Worobo, R, Snyder, A, 2021

Keeping up with the Bacillus cereus group: taxonomy through the genomics era and beyond.
Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, Carroll, Laura M., Cheng, Rachel A., Wiedmann, Martin, Kovac, Jasna, 2021

Evaluation of the Thermal Inactivation of a Salmonella Serotype Oranienburg Strain During Cocoa Roasting at Conditions Relevant to the Fine Chocolate Industry
Frontiers in Microbiology, Yan, Runan, Pinto, Gabriella, Taylor-Roseman, Rebecca, Cogan, Karen, D’Alesandre, Greg, Kovac, Jasna, 2021

Unique inducible filamentous motility identified in pathogenic bacillus cereus group species
ISME Journal, Liu, Martha M., Coleman, Shannon, Wilkinson, Lauren, Smith, Maren L., Hoang, Thomas, Niyah, Naomi, Mukherjee, Manjari, Huynh, Steven, Parker, Craig T., Kovac, Jasna, Hancock, Robert E.W., Gaynor, Erin C., 2020

Novel effective bacillus cereus group species "bacillus clarus" is represented by antibiotic-producing strain ATCC 21929 isolated from soil
mSphere, Acevedo, Marysabel Méndez, Carroll, Laura M., Mukherjee, Manjari, Mills, Emma, Xiaoli, Lingzi, Dudley, Edward G., Kovac, Jasna, 2020

Review of the prevalence of foodborne pathogens in milk and dairy products in Ethiopia
International Dairy Journal, Keba, Abdi, Rolon, M. Laura, Tamene, Aynadis, Dessie, Kindinew, Vipham, Jessie, Kovac, Jasna, Zewdu, Ashagrie, 2020

Whole-genome sequences of salmonella isolates from an ecological wastewater treatment system
Microbiology Resource Announcements, Connolly, Charles J., Kaminsky, Laura, Pinto, Gabriella N., Sinclair, Priscilla C., Bajracharya, Gyasu, Yan, Runan, Nawrocki, Erin M., Dudley, Edward G., Kovaca, Jasna, 2020

Extended enrichment procedures can be used to define false-negative probabilities for cultural gold standard methods for salmonella detection, facilitating comparisons between gold standard and alternative methods
Journal of Food Protection, Sullivan, Genevieve, Guo, Xiaodong, Tokman, Jeffrey I., Roof, Sherry, Trmcic, Aljosa, Baker, Robert C., Tang, Silin, Markwell, Peter, Wiedmann, Martin, Kovac, Jasna, 2020

Paenibacillus odorifer, the predominant Paenibacillus species isolated from milk in the United States, demonstrates genetic and phenotypic conservation of psychrotolerance but clade-associated differences in nitrogen metabolic pathways
mSphere, Beno, Sarah M., Cheng, Rachel A., Orsi, Renato H., Duncan, Diana R., Guo, Xiaodong, Kovac, Jasna, Carroll, Laura M., Martin, Nicole H., Wiedmann, Martin, 2020

(-)-α-pinene reduces quorum sensing and campylobacter jejuni colonization in broiler chickens
PLoS One, Šimunović, Katarina, Sahin, Orhan, Kovač, Jasna, Shen, Zhangqi, Klančnik, Anja, Zhang, Qijing, Možina, Sonja Smole, 2020

Dynamic Laser Speckle Imaging Meets Machine Learning to Enable Rapid Antibacterial Susceptibility Testing (DyRAST)
ACS Sensors, Liu, Zhiwen, Ebrahimi, Aida, Zhou, Keren, Zhou, Chen, Sapre, Anjali, Pavlock, Jared Henry, Weaver, Ashley, Muralidharan, Ritvik, Noble, Josh, Chung, Taejung, Kovac, Jasna, 2020

The anti-campylobacter activity and mechanisms of pinocembrin action
Microorganisms, Klančnik, Anja, Šimunović, Katarina, Kovac, Jasna, Sahin, Orhan, Wu, Zuowei, Vučković, Darinka, Abram, Maja, Zhang, Qijing, Možina, Sonja Smole, 2019

A century of gray
Journal of Dairy Science, Reichler, Samuel J., Martin, Nicole H., Evanowski, Rachel L., Kovac, Jasna, Wiedmann, Martin, Orsi, Renato H., 2019

Serotype-specific evolutionary patterns of antimicrobial-resistant Salmonella enterica
BMC Evolutionary Biology, Liao, Jingqiu, Orsi, Renato Hohl, Carroll, Laura M., Kovac, Jasna, Ou, Hongyu, Zhang, Hailong, Wiedmann, Martin, 2019

A conceptual framework for developing recommendations for no-harvest buffers around in-field feces
Journal of Food Protection, Weller, Daniel L., Kovac, Jasna, Kent, David J., Roof, Sherry, Tokman, Jeffrey I., Mudrak, Erika, Wiedmann, Martin, 2019

Precision food safety
mSystems, Kovac, Jasna, 2019

Whole-genome sequences of Escherichia coli isolates from cocoa beans imported from bolivia
Microbiology Resource Announcements, Nwanosike, Hephzibah, Chung, Taejung, Xiaoli, Lingzi, Condello, Megan, Dudley, Edward G., Kovac, Jasna, 2019

Genes Associated With Psychrotolerant Bacillus cereus Group Isolates.
Frontiers in Microbiology, Beno, Sarah M., Orsi, Renato H., Cheng, Rachel A., Kent, David J., Kovac, Jasna, Duncan, Diana R., Martin, Nicole H., Wiedmann, Martin, 2019

Assembly and characterization of a pathogen strain collection for produce safety applications
Frontiers in Microbiology, Harrand, Anna Sophia, Kovac, Jasna, Carroll, Laura M., Guariglia-Oropeza, Veronica, Kent, David J., Wiedmann, Martin, 2019

Characterization of emetic and diarrheal Bacillus cereus strains from a 2016 foodborne outbreak using whole-genome sequencing: Addressing the microbiological, epidemiological, and bioinformatic challenges
Frontiers in Microbiology, Carroll, Laura M., Wiedmann, Martin, Mukherjee, Manjari, Nicholas, David C., Mingle, Lisa A., Dumas, Nellie B., Cole, Jocelyn A., Kovac, Jasna, 2019

The occurrence of Listeria monocytogenes is associated with built environment microbiota in three tree fruit processing facilities.
Microbiome, Tan, Xiaoqing, Chung, Taejung, Chen, Yi, Macarisin, Dumitru, Laborde, Luke, Kovac, Jasna, 2019

Frontiers in Microbiology, Beno, Sarah M., Orsi, Renato H., Cheng, Rachel A., Kent, David J., Kovac, Jasna, Duncan, Diana R., Martin, Nicole H., Wiedmann, Martin, 2019

Intraclade variability in toxin production and cytotoxicity of Bacillus cereus group type strains and dairy-associated isolates
Applied and Environmental Microbiology, Miller, Rachel A., Jian, Jiahui, Beno, Sarah M., Wiedmann, Martin, Kovac, Jasna, 2018

Population structure and attribution of human clinical Campylobacter jejuni isolates from central Europe to livestock and environmental sources
Zoonoses and Public Health, Kovac, J., Stessl, B., Čadež, N., Gruntar, I., Cimerman, M., Stingl, K., Lušicky, M., Ocepek, M., Wagner, M., Smole Možina, S., 2018

Escherichia coli transfer from simulated wildlife feces to lettuce during foliar irrigation
Food Microbiology, Weller, Daniel L., Kovac, Jasna, Kent, David J., Roof, Sherry, Tokman, Jeffrey I., Mudrak, Erika, Kowalcyk, Barbara, Oryang, David, Aceituno, Anna, Wiedmann, Martin, 2017

Lactococcus petauri sp. nov., isolated from an abscess of a sugar glider
International Journal of Systematic Bacteriology, Goodman, Laura B., Lawton, Marie R., Franklin-Guild, Rebecca J., Anderson, Renee R., Schaan, Lynn, Thachil, Anil J., Wiedmann, Martin, Miller, Claire B., Alcaine, Samuel D., Kovac, Jasna, 2017

Precision food safety
TrAC - Trends in Analytical Chemistry, Kovac, Jasna, Bakker, Henk den, Carroll, Laura M., Wiedmann, Martin, 2017

Survival of Escherichia coli on lettuce under field conditions encountered in the Northeastern United States
Journal of Food Protection, Weller, Daniel L., Kovac, Jasna, Roof, Sherry, Kent, David J., Tokman, Jeffrey I., Kowalcyk, Barbara, Oryang, David, Ivanek, Renata, Aceituno, Anna, Sroka, Christopher, Wiedmann, Martin, 2017

Genetic stability and evolution of the sigB allele, used for Listeria sensu stricto subtyping and phylogenetic inference
Applied and Environmental Microbiology, Liao, Jingqiu, Wiedmann, Martin, Kovac, Jasna, 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, Kovac, Jasna, Cummings, Kevin J., Rodriguez-Rivera, Lorraine D., Carroll, Laura M., Thachil, Anil, Wiedmann, Martin, 2017

Bacillus wiedmannii sp. nov., a psychrotolerant and cytotoxic bacillus cereus group species isolated from dairy foods and dairy environments
International Journal of Systematic Bacteriology, Miller, Rachel A., Beno, Sarah M., Kent, David J., Carroll, Laura M., Martin, Nicole H., Boor, Kathryn J., Kovac, Jasna, 2016

Production of hemolysin BL by Bacillus cereus group isolates of dairy origin is associated with whole-genome phylogenetic clade
BMC Genomics, Kovac, Jasna, Miller, Rachel A., Carroll, Laura M., Kent, David J., Jian, Jiahui, Beno, Sarah M., Wiedmann, Martin, 2016

Antibiotic resistance modulation and modes of action of (-)-α-Pinene in Campylobacter jejuni
PLoS One, Kovač, Jasna, Šimunović, Katarina, Wu, Zuowei, Klančnik, Anja, Bucar, Franz, Zhang, Qijing, Možina, Sonja Smole, 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, Nagy, B., Szmolka, A., Smole Možina, S., Kovač, J., Strauss, A., Schlager, S., Beutlich, J., Appel, B., Lušicky, M., Aprikian, P., Pászti, J., Tóth, I., Kugler, R., Wagner, M., 2015

High genetic similarity of ciprofloxacin-resistant Campylobacter jejuni in central Europe
Frontiers in Microbiology, Kovač, Jasna, Čadež, Neža, Stessl, Beatrix, Stingl, Kerstin, Gruntar, Igor, Ocepek, Matjaž, Trkov, Marija, Wagner, Martin, Možina, Sonja Smole, 2015

Natural Products as Antibacterial Agents — Antibacterial Potential and Safety of Post-distillation and Waste Material from Thymus vulgaris L., Lamiaceae, Gavaric, N, Kovac, Jasna, Kretschmer, N, Kladar, N, Smole Mozina, S, Bucar, F, Bauer, R, Bozin, B, 2015

The evidence for clonal spreading of quinolone resistance with a particular clonal complex of Campylobacter jejuni
Journal of Hygiene, Kovač, J., Čadež, N., Lušicky, M., Nielsen, E. Møller, Ocepek, M., Raspor, P., Smole Možina, S., 2014

Characterization of egg laying hen and broiler fecal microbiota in poultry farms in Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovenia
PLoS One, Videnska, Petra, Rahman, Md Masudur, Faldynova, Marcela, Babak, Vladimir, Matulova, Marta Elsheimer, Prukner-Radovcic, Estella, Krizek, Ivan, Smole-Mozina, Sonja, Kovac, Jasna, Szmolka, Ama, Nagy, Bela, Sedlar, Karel, Cejkova, Darina, Rychlik, Ivan, 2014

Antimicrobial and resistance modulatory activity of alpinia katsumadai seed phenolic extract, essential oil and post-distillation extract
Food Technology and Biotechnology, Kovač, Jasna, Gavarić, Neda, Bucar, Franz, Možina, Sonja Smole, 2014

Identification and characterisation of new Campylobacter group III phages of animal origin
FEMS Microbiology Letters, Janež, Nika, Kokošin, Andreja, Zaletel, Eva, Vranac, Tanja, Kovač, Jasna, Vučković, Darinka, Možina, Sonja Smole, Serbec, Vladka Curin, Zhang, Qijing, Accetto, Tomaž, Podgornik, Aleš, Peterka, Matjaž, 2014

Anti-Campylobacter and resistance-modifying activity of Alpinia katsumadai seed extracts
Proceedings of the Society for Applied Bacteriology, Klančnik, A., Gröblacher, B., Kovac, Jasna, Bucar, F., Možina, S. Smole, 2012

Antimicrobial activity of polysaccharides extracted from medicinal mushrooms on Campylobacter jejuni and Staphylococcus aureus, Kovač, Jasna, Klaus, Anita, Kozarski, Maja, Nikšić, Miomir, Raspor, Peter, Možina, Sonja Smole, 2012