Alumnus creates first endowed professorship in food science

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A distinguished researcher in the field of food microbiology has created the first endowed professorship in Penn State’s Department of Food Science in the College of Agricultural Sciences. Dr. Larry Beuchat, 1965 graduate of the College of Agricultural Sciences, created the Dr. Larry Beuchat Professorship in Food Microbiology with a gift of $1 million to recognize the Penn State faculty who inspired him and to encourage a new generation of researchers.

“I got my start at Penn State,” Beuchat said. “The gift is a return for the effort, time and inspiration I received in my food microbiology classes at Penn State. Now as a faculty member myself, I’ve seen so many young developing scientists grow in understanding the field of food microbiology, and it’s been inspiring to see many of these young people go on to contribute to the field. I thought this professorship would be a good way to support their efforts.”

The Dr. Larry Beuchat Professorship in Food Microbiology will provide a faculty member with funds to conduct new research, to extend knowledge to industry and the public, and to support undergraduate and graduate students’ work. This full professorship will join two early career professorships already established in the department.

“A named professorship is an honor,” said Bob Roberts, head of Penn State’s Department of Food Science. “Because he’s also a professional in this area, Dr. Beuchat’s gift is an honor and testament to the kind of work we are doing at Penn State. Food safety is a national and international priority, and this endowment will provide the Beuchat Professor with funds to take risks with his or her research and push the field forward.”

Beuchat credits the courses he took at Penn State as an undergraduate with providing him the inspiration to dedicate his life’s work to food science. A food microbiology course was incredibly inspirational, while a food processing course, then taught in a laboratory by Beaver Stadium, provided him with hands-on learning that further motivated him to study these topics.

“I hope the professorship will expand and strengthen the already strong food microbiology program at Penn State,” Beuchat said. “While a professor may not have an extension or outreach appointment, he or she may field telephone calls or attend meetings to share his or her knowledge. I created the Beuchat Professorship with the hopes of facilitating the spread of fundamental and applied discoveries to future generations of students, industry and the public.”

A native of Guys Mills, Pa., Dr. Beuchat earned his master’s and doctoral degrees from Michigan State University before working for Quaker Oats in research and development. He then embarked on a career in academia at the University of Georgia, where he currently serves as a semi-retired distinguished research professor of food microbiology at the Center for Food Safety. He has published more than 500 refereed scientific articles and authored or co-authored five books on the topics of food safety, foodborne infections and intoxication, and spoilage issues that are still commonplace around the globe. As of 2005, he was the third most-cited agricultural scientist in the world.

The Penn State Department of Food Science is ranked among the top programs in the nation, according to the National Research Council, with an undergraduate enrollment of 220 and graduate enrollment of 40 students in the master of science and doctorate programs. Food safety is a primary focus in research and expertise of the faculty.

The Dr. Larry Beuchat Professorship will support For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students, a University-wide fundraising effort directed toward a shared vision of Penn State as the most comprehensive, student-centered research university in America. The University is engaging Penn State's alumni and friends as partners in achieving six key objectives: ensuring student access and opportunity, enhancing honors education, enriching the student experience, building faculty strength and capacity, fostering discovery and creativity, and sustaining the University's tradition of quality. The For the Future campaign is the most ambitious effort of its kind in Penn State's history, with the goal of securing $2 billion by 2014.

Larry R. Beuchat, distinguished research professor Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

Last Updated March 18, 2013