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Institute for Food and Agriculture

Meet the team

Katy Tarrant Photo

COOP Director


Dr. Katy Tarrant joined the Fresno State Animal Sciences and Agricultural Education faculty at California State University, Fresno in August of 2016. She holds a Ph.D. degree in Cell and Molecular Biology from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Arkansas. In addition to directing COOP, Dr. Tarrant advises students and teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in poultry production, animal genetics, and welfare and handling. 

Laura Huisinga Photo

COOP UX and UI Design


Dr. Laura Huisinga is an Associate Professor in the Department of Art, Design, and Art History (graphic design area; Interactive Multimedia BFA track) in the College of Arts and Humanities at California State University - Fresno. She has her Ph.D. in Human-Computer Interaction from Iowa State University and her MFA in Graphic Design from the College of Art and Design at Iowa State University. Her interest focuses on user experience (UX) design, usability testing methods, universal design, game theory for education, immersive design for extended reality (XR), including augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), and designing for new technologies. Dr. Huisinga’s research focuses on using augmented and virtual reality for education.



photo of Eden Arreguin

Eden Arreguin

Superintendent Foster Farms South Grow-Out

Eden graduated from Fresno State in the Spring of 2017 with a BS in Criminology-Law Enforcement. He started his career with Foster in 2011 as a brood crew team member placing chicks. Since then, he's had the privilege of holding various positions in both farm level and management level roles. He began as Brood Crew Supervisor, was promoted to Field Supervisor, Department Supervisor, and most recently, a South Grow-out Superintendent. In addition to his roles in the field, he also works alongside Dr. Tarrant to support students at his Alma Mater in becoming future leaders at Foster Farms.
Photo of Janet

Dr. Janet Helms

Senior Manager, Global Sustainable Sourcing, Animal Health and Welfare

Dr. Janet Helms is a veterinarian with extensive experience across the food
chain. Janet’s current title is Senior Manager, Global Sustainable Sourcing,
Animal Health and Welfare. Her responsibilities include chicken, antibiotics,
animal feed, and fish. She has been with McDonald’s for over one year.
Prior to joining McDonald’s, Dr. Helms owned and managed a large animal
veterinary practice in Southern California, providing preventative health services
to dairy and beef clients. She was the first practitioner to offer ultrasound and
dairy records analysis in the area. Following her career in veterinary practice,
Janet worked in multiple roles at Pfizer/Zoetis including regulatory compliance,
organizational development, and technical sales. Dr. Helms was the National
Director of a third-party animal welfare certification, working across species with
auditors, developing audits, and driving program growth. More recently, Janet
was a Global Sustainability Developer at Inter IKEA Group responsible for
sourcing animal and plant based foods in North and South America. In addition
to finding sustainable and high welfare chicken, pig, beef, dairy, and eggs, she
developed strategic approaches to sustainably source leather, down, hides, and
biofuels.Outside of work, Janet enjoys cooking for friends and family, gardening, hiking,
swimming, and paints in several mediums. A fan of travel and art history, she
loves to visit museums on her international travels.
Photo of Amelia Woods

Amelia Woods

Poultry Welfare Manager with (PAACO)

A native of middle Tennessee, Amelia holds a bachelor’s degree in agriculture
communications from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and an M.S. in
International Agriculture from Oklahoma State University. Amelia has worked in the
poultry industry for eight years in both animal welfare and corporate communications for
major poultry companies. Amelia currently serves as the Poultry Welfare Manager with the Professional Animal Auditor Certification Organization (PAACO). PAACO is recognized as the global
certification organization for animal welfare auditors and audits. PAACO represents all
major food animal proteins with certification programs for; Poultry Welfare (broiler,
turkey, and layer), Beef Feedlot Welfare, On-farm Swine Welfare, Dairy Welfare and
Meat Plant Welfare. Amelia grew up on a cow/calf farm and was extremely active in the state and national 4-H program. She is a proud sixth-generation farmer and agriculture enthusiast. She
currently lives in Northwest Arkansas.


photo of Rafael Rivera

Rafael Rivera

Director of Food Safety and Production Programs for USPOULTRY 

 After finishing a bachelor’s degree in animal science from the University of Puerto Rico in 2001, he attended North Carolina State University to complete a Master’s degree in Poultry Science in 2004. While at NC State and a short period after, he worked in research facilities including the former Embrex, Inc. He worked at Perdue Farms on the Delmarva Peninsula for several years in a variety of roles including Flock Supervisor, HACCP Coordinator, Quality Assurance Supervisor and SAP Material Master Data Analyst before joining USPOULTRY. His responsibilities include the development of educational programs and tools in food safety, product development, and live production for the poultry and egg industries. These products are designed to improve performance within the poultry and egg industry’s in areas like food safety, animal welfare, and biosecurity. Since 2019, he has been working on his PhD. evaluating the broiler and turkey industry’s Campylobacter performance standards and developing recommendations on how to optimize pathogen reduction interventions.


Contact Information

Center for the Optimization Of Poultry
2415 E. San Ramon, MS AS75 Fresno, CA 93740