Academic Credentials
  • Ph.D., Biochemistry, George Washington University, 1976
  • M.P.H., Nutrition, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), 1972
  • B.S., Nutrition, New Mexico State University, 1970
Professional Honors
  • Recipient of the Institute of Food Technologists 2010 Bernard L. Oser Food ingredients Safety Award
Professional Affiliations
  • Councilor, International Society for Exposure Assessment, 1995-1997
  • GAO Expert Panel member for the evaluation of the National Surveys of Food Consumption, 1993-1994
  • 1997 Eastern Food Science Conference Planning Committee
  • Institute of Food Technologists, Elected IFT Fellow, 2004, Chair the Toxicology and Safety Assessment Division, 2012 and Bernard L. Oser Ingredient Safety Award 2010 which "honors an IFT member for his or her contribution to the scientific knowledge of food ingredient safety or leadership in establishing principles for food ingredient safety evaluation or regulation. Bernard Oser award, 2010"
  • International Society of Exposure Analysis
  • Society of Risk Analysis
  • Program Co-Chair, Exposure Specialty Committee, Society for Risk Analysis, Exposure Section, 1991 and 1992
  • Chair, Toxicology and Safety Evaluation Section, Institute of Food Technologists, 2008 and 1997; chair Food Laws and Regulations Division, 2003-2005, and CODEX Committee, 1999-2006, Chair, Special Task Force, Biotechnology and representative to CODEX General Principles, 2005-2008
  • Invited participant, EPA National Human Exposure Assessment Survey Workshop
  • Invited participant, European Food Safety Authority workshop on dioxins in foodstuffs, 2004
  • Invited participant in the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Consultation on Food Consumption Methodologies and risk assessments: 1997, 1998, 2001, 2002
  • Member, Food Safety Expert Panel, California Water Boards, Food Safety Project On the Reuse of Oil Field Produced Water for Irrigation of Food Crops In Central Kern County, California, 1996-2021.
  • Fellowships
  • NIH Post-Doctoral Fellow, NIAAA, Biochemistry Laboratory. 1978-1980. Specialization: genetics of alcoholism, basic enzymology.
  • Post-Doctoral Fellow, Georgetown University, Department of Biochemistry. 1976-1978. Specialization: mechanisms of action of insulin and glucagon hormone receptors, particularly in patients with cancer and other disorders affecting taste.

Dr. Petersen is internationally recognized for her expertise in exposure/risk assessment methodology, functional food safety and efficacy evaluations, nutrient intakes, fatty acid metabolism, food additives, food consumption profile modeling, and applications of Monte Carlo techniques to risk assessments for chemicals including contaminants, pesticides, and nutrients. She is also a specialist in addressing regulatory issues involving exposure and risk assessments including FDA, EPA, EFSA, and other International and California issues. 

Dr. Petersen has provided specialized expertise in developing compliance procedures for foods derived from modern biotechnology (GMOs), heavy metals in toys, dishes, contaminants in food and other consumer products (dioxins, fumonosins, heavy metals, etc.). Dr. Petersen has pioneered the technical methods for incorporating information about dietary practices, actual agricultural practices, and commercial food processing technologies into regulatory science issues.

Dr. Petersen has successfully applied these approaches to develop software that maximizes the utility of data and provides realistic risk assessments that allow the user to understand the sources of potential exposure. Applications include FQPA compliance, regulatory strategies for existing products, intake calculations to support new pesticides, GRAS self-affirmations and preparation of food additive petitions, nutrition labeling justifications, new food product designs and marketing strategies, and product stewardship program designs.

She led the scientific team that identified and resolved the issues raised by the split registration of Starlink ™ corn. This project required the design, conduct and interpretation of rigorous sampling and analysis programs, and the communication of the results of that testing to US, Japanese and other regulatory authorities from 2002 to 2010. She prepared risk assessments, and detailed estimates of the extent of comingling of the Starlink corn with non GMO corn. The results were presented to the EPA, the EPA Science Advisory Panel, and the FDA. Reports were prepared and submitted to regulatory authorities in the US and Japan and to many affected stakeholders. The work results in quantitative estimates of the presence of Starlink in the US corn supply as well as the decline in levels over time and the final resolution of the problem.

Dr. Petersen has directed the design and conduct of numerous statistically based market basket studies. These studies were designed for different purposes, including acute and chronic assessments for pesticides, contaminants and compliance assessments under Proposition 65, International Regulations and biotechnology food technology.

Dr. Petersen served on the EPA Science Advisory Board's Integrated Exposure Committee and as an Expert Advisor to WHO/FAO for several session of JECFA, the ad hoc Committee on Foods Derived from Modern Biotechnology (beginning in 2000), and the FAO/WHO CODEX Working Group on Allergenicity of the Ad Hoc Task Force on Foods Derived from Biotechnology (Vancouver, Canada, Sept. 2001 FAO/WHO CODEX and for numerous consultations on risk assessment.

Dr. Petersen chaired the WHO working group on methods for estimating intakes of food additives, nutrients, new biochemical traits associated with foods derived from modern biotechnology (GMOs), and contaminants in foods. Also she served as Principal Investigator for the National Cancer Institute's International FOODBASE project, a major effort to collect and computerize descriptive and summary information on food consumption surveys conducted in more than 40 countries. Dr. Petersen has provided statistical support to FDA's Center for Food Safety and Nutrition, including developing criteria for evaluating nutrition databases, and specifically for the International Interface Standard for food databases and to EPA's Office of Research and Development. Dr. Petersen expanded Novigen's (now Exponent) expertise in aggregate/integrated exposure assessment to refine the treatment of residential exposure information and in developing new methods to conduct food safety risk assessments for microbiological contaminants. She has been a faculty member in risk assessment training programs for government scientists in the European Union, Thailand, the U.S., and China.