Meet the team

Jennifer van de Ligt, PhD

Jennifer van de Ligt

Director, Food Protection and Defense Institute
Associate Professor, College of Veterinary Medicine

Dr. van de Ligt has an extensive background in animal feed and human food production, nutrition, modeling, safety, and regulations, with academic, industry, and global perspectives. She focuses on food and feed security, safety, defense, and supply-chain resiliency.

Debra Freedman, PhD

Debra FreedmanEducation Manager, Food Protection and Defense Institute
Collegiate Office of Online Learning, College of Veterinary Medicine

Dr. Freedman works with University of Minnesota researchers and scholars, government, food industry professionals, public school teachers, and other emergency responders to develop teaching materials, certificate programs, courses, and training guides. 

Amy Kircher, DrPH

Amy KircherSenior Advisor, Food Protection and Defense Institute
Assistant Professor, College of Veterinary Medicine


Dr. Kircher researches identification and warning of food disruptions through data fusion and analysis. Previously, Dr. Kircher held epidemiologist positions at NORAD - US Northern Command - and with the US Air Force, where she worked on health informatics, biosurveillance, and data analytics.