Jen Ronholm

Assistant Professor

(cross-appointed with Food Science)

T: 514-398-7923 | jennifer.ronholm [at] (Email) | Macdonald-Stewart Building MS1-030


BSc (University of Waterloo)
PhD (University of Ottawa)

Short Bio

Dr. Ronholm obtained her BSc in microbiology from the University of Waterloo and Doctoral degree in microbiology from the University of Ottawa. Her research area involved the study of bacterial surface proteins which would allow the identification of particularly virulent strains of Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella. Her first post-doctoral fellowship was with the Canadian Astrobiology Training Program where her research focused on using next-generation sequencing to investigate how organisms survive in extreme cryoenvironments such as the Canadian high arctic. Dr. Ronholm then held a Vising Fellowship with Health Canada where she focused on developing genomics based techniques for evaluating and improving the safety of several food products, particularly seafood.

Awards and Recognitions

Canadian Astrobiology Training Program Post-Doctoral Fellowship (2013-2015)
Banting and Best Canada Graduate Scholarship (2009-2012)

Active Affiliations

Canadian Society of Microbiologists
American Society for Microbiology

Research Interests

Dr. Ronholm’s research interests include using the latest next-generation sequencing techniques to study the microbiome of food-producing animals. Recent research has focused on understanding intestinal microbiome of humans, and correlations between intestinal microbial populations and various health outcomes have been observed. Less is known about the overall intestinal microbiome of ruminants, the effect of feed and husbandry on the ruminant microbiome, and if certain microbial populations are correlated with higher-quality and improved-safety animal food-products. It has been shown that several bacterial pathogens take advantage of gut disbiosis to proliferate and cause infection. Can healthy gut microbiomes be used to mitigate the effects of enteric infection or eliminate it all together? The long-term overarching goal of this research is to understand and harness the power of the ruminant microbiome to generate healthier cattle herds. Possible applied benefits of this research are: decreased use of agricultural antibiotics, lower rates of zoonosis, and safer, high-quality, natural food-products.

Current Research

1- To define the effects of husbandry practices, diet, and health of food-producing cattle on shaping microbiome of that animal.

2- To understand if and how the microbiome of food-producing cattle can affect the transmission/ persistence of zoonotic pathogens.

3- To correlate accessory-microbiomes with microbial quality of cattle food-products, and determine if altering the microbiome can increase the safety of minimally processed products (such as raw-milk dairy products or fermented meats).


ANSC 350 Food-Borne Pathogens 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

FDSC 442 Food Microbiology 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

FDSC 545 Advances in Food Microbiology 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer


View a list of current publications

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