Gift will help stimulate sensory science graduate studies

Jane Ziegler (seated, second from right) for decades participated in sensory evaluation research projects with other faculty spouses, such as this group in 1970. Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- A new endowment in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences will leave a good taste in the mouths of graduate students studying one particular aspect of food science.

Gregory Ziegler, professor of food science, has pledged a total of $25,000 to establish the John and Jane Ziegler Graduate Award in Sensory Science. The gift will support graduate students in the college who have demonstrated excellence in scholarly achievement related to research in the discipline of sensory science.

Twenty-thousand dollars of the gift will be used to create an endowment for the award, with $5,000 available for immediate use. The endowment also is open for contributions from other individuals and organizations.

Sensory analysis uses human senses to consistently measure such food characteristics as taste, texture, smell and appearance in a controlled environment. The information collected assists the food industry in addressing consumer demands and introducing new and improved products.

The award is named in honor of Ziegler's parents, John and Jane Ziegler. "My parents have a profound love of and dedication to Penn State, especially the College of Agricultural Sciences," said Gregory Ziegler, a 1980 alumnus of Penn State with a bachelor's degree in food science. "I don't know that they could be honored in any better way."

John Ziegler is a professor emeritus of meat science at Penn State who earned bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in animal industry from the College of Agricultural Sciences. He taught animal science and meats courses in the college's Department of Animal Science for 21 years and in the Department of Food Science for 12 years before retiring in 1987.

John Ziegler helped organize the Food Science Department, which was established in 1975. During his career, he also oversaw the Penn State Meats Lab and led sensory science research to test consumer acceptance of various meat products.

He is a member of the college's Armsby Honor Society and has won numerous awards, including the Outstanding Animal Science Alumni Award, the Outstanding Council Member Award from the Penn State Alumni Association, and the Volunteer Recognition Award from the Pasto Agricultural Museum.

Jane Ziegler, along with other faculty spouses, for several decades assisted sensory evaluation programs as a "panelist," tasting meat items, dairy products and horticultural produce. Notable among the food items she helped test were Kosher poultry, tilapia, ice cream and hot peppers.

In retirement, John and Jane have been active in many Penn State and community organizations, among them the Retired Faculty and Staff Club, Clearwater Conservancy, the Centre County Historical Society, the Centre County Chapter of the Penn State Alumni Association, the Retired Senior Volunteer Program and Global Connections, a nonprofit that promotes international cultural exchange in Centre County.

The Sensory Evaluation Center in the Department of Food Science conducts sensory evaluation and consumer tests for Penn State researchers and for the food industry. The center allows sensory scientists, flavor scientists, food chemists, process and package engineers, and nutritionists to better understand how specific ingredients, processes, packages or storage conditions affect the sensory properties of foods.

In addition, graduate and undergraduate students gain knowledge about sensory methodology by participating in trained panel evaluations and helping to conduct sensory tests.

Penn State's alumni and friends are invaluable partners in fulfilling the University's land-grant mission of education, research and service. Private gifts from alumni and friends enrich the experiences of students both in and out of the classroom; expand the research and teaching capacity of our faculty; enhance the University's ability to recruit and retain top students and faculty; and help to ensure that students from every economic background have access to a Penn State education.

The University's colleges and campuses are now enlisting the support of alumni and friends to advance a range of unit-specific initiatives.

John Ziegler gets help adjusting his apron from Leslie Essy, of the College of Agricultural Sciences Alumni Relations Office, as he prepares to scoop ice cream at the college's 2012 graduation brunch. Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

Last Updated June 11, 2015