Carrie-McMahonPhoto_5D3_9081_Print-(1)Achievement in the Sciences Award – Reunion 2014

As a senior at Drew, Carrie Hendrickson chaired the Student Government Association’s Food Service Committee. Now she is a Consumer Safety Officer in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, making sure that our food is safe. Could there be a connection?

Carrie came to Drew from Aliquippa, Pa., but she lived “all over” in her childhood while her family moved six times with the Air Force. She found Drew when visiting a friend on campus. Drew gained an excellent student: a Drew Scholar who was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and graduated summa cum laude, with a major in biology and a minor in biochemistry. Carrie appreciated Drew’s science faculty and the opportunities for research, especially in RISE, and her involvement in two Governor’s School summers. She says that Drew always provided her with a “learning summer.”

After Drew, graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania occupied Carrie until she earned her PhD in cell and molecular biology in 2002. After Penn, she interned with several federal organizations during her tenure in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ two-year Emerging Leaders program. Upon graduation from the program, she began her current position.

Carrie’s role as a regulatory scientist is to ensure that new food ingredients, especially foods from bioengineered crops and those “generally recognized as safe” (or GRAS), are not only safe but meet regulatory standards. In addition to helping companies assure the safety of their food products, her office emphasizes communication of the science used in regulatory decision-making. In the past year, she has taken on new responsibilities in her office, helping to make sure that its responses to media requests for information about food ingredient safety and regulation are both clear and scientifically accurate. Among Carrie’s other projects, she has served on the Codex Committee on Food Additives, whose purpose is global harmonization of standards of use for food ingredients; she is pleased that she can interact with other countries, discussing the use of science to assess ingredient safety and to set regulations.

Carrie continues to appreciate the support she received at Drew from the Drew Scholars program and other scholarships, and she has been delighted to discover that she can support the university herself. In 2013, she created the Carrie Hendrickson McMahon Summer Research Fellowship, providing invaluable assistance to biology and biochemistry students in the Drew Summer Science Institute. In the same year, she was the keynote speaker in the annual Drew/Fairleigh Dickinson Biology Research Symposium.

Carrie and her husband, Bryan McMahon, live in Baltimore, where they met when she joined the rowing club in which he was member. Carrie’s science experiments these days include trying out different jam and marmalade recipes. In her free time, she volunteers with a local high school and with her community’s parks and beautification efforts.