Ashenafi is professor emeritus of food microbiology at the Institute of Pathobiology, Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia. He has studied the microbial dynamics of the fermentation of traditional Ethiopian foods and the behaviour of several enteric pathogens during the fermentation process. This special research into the food and dietary practices of Ethiopians has generated basic scientific knowledge about the microbial fermentation, spoilage, preservation and safety of traditional Ethiopian foods. His work has helped in laying the groundwork for further research in the field. He has been a Fulbright fellow and has also won the Faculty Scientific Achievement Award of the Ethiopian Scientific Society.