Deana Jones’ mother would tell you that when she was growing up, she would ask at least 15 billion questions a day. Today is no different. Jones is a research food technologist specializing in quality and food safety of eggs with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agriculture Research Service (ARS).
Poultry has always been a part of Jones’ life as her grandparents were poultry farmers. She would tell you that being in the poultry industry was inevitable because she grew up in it, and today she has been conducting poultry research with the UDSA for the past 19 years.
“The best thing that I could do was to be a scientist. That way I could help come up with answers to my questions. I was, and still am, the queen at asking them.”
Jones began her journey at North Carolina State University where she graduated with a B.S. in food and poultry sciences, and an M.S. in poultry science. She then obtained her Ph.D. in physiology, with a minor in food science. Her current position with the USDA started with processed poultry meat safety and quality. She quickly realized that eggs were her passion in product quality and food safety.
“Everyone needs eggs and they are extremely important! Eggs have such a broad reach, and the stakeholder groups for eggs are immeasurable. I enjoy that because that means I get to work with so many different kinds of people and answer all sorts of questions from people,” said Jones.
Jones receives a lot of questions from her stakeholders, and many of those questions stem from her research. She has authored over 80 published manuscripts.
“If someone Googles ‘eggs’ or ‘USDA eggs’ I’m the person they find. So I get everything from kids working on a science fair project, to some big concern a company wants to work through, to someone who’s buying eggs from a grocery store,” Jones said. “I get the whole gamut.”
The Coalition for Sustainable Egg Supply (CSES) project has served as a defining moment in Jones’s research concerning international collaboration on egg issues. Her participation has helped her to assist people to ensure they are not misled. Jones has also had to learn about several issues from an alternative perspective, giving her a deeper appreciation for the industry.
However, as with most research, many misconceptions are still present in the egg industry. This can include perceptions of washing versus not washing eggs, and different housing systems for poultry including organic, cage-free, and free range.
“I don’t want people to feel like the egg industry ever wronged them. I am trying to make sure that people are fully informed.”
Jones serves as part of the faculty for the National Egg Quality and National Egg Product schools, and is also an instructor in poultry products for the Midwest Poultry Consortium Center of Excellence Program. She has received multiple awards from the Poultry Science Association and been recognized as an outstanding alumnus for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at North Carolina State University.
As a member of the Poultry Science Association, Jones encourages people in research to find their passions. For Jones, her passions lie in egg quality, safety and security on a national and international level.
“Don’t feel like you have to fit into a certain box. You can form your own path. It’ll be great and it'll be fun.”