Rose Marie Valdes Pangborn

Class of 1953


A pioneer in sensory analysis of food attributes, Rose Marie Valdes Pangborn was a native New Mexican born in 1932. She earned a bachelor’s degree from New Mexico State University and a master’s degree from Iowa State University.

She joined the Department of Food Technology at the University of California, Davis, in 1955, and served there with distinction for 35 years.

Pangborn’s research made it possible for scientists to understand and measure people’s responses to the food they eat. She discovered “taste is a lot more complicated than the perception of light or sound” and it depends on many different factors.

UAP_01339In addition to such high-quality research, Pangborn was widely known for her outstanding teaching. She challenged her students to rise to their best and accepted nothing short than excellence from each student.

Pangborn received much recognition, including the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) William V. Cruess Award in 1977. She was elected an IFT fellow in 1980. She received an honorary doctorate from the University of Helsinki in 1984 and a “pioneer award” from the American Society for Testing and Materials in 1989.

She was active on the editorial boards of eight scientific journals and was co-founder of the Association for Chemoreception Sciences.

She published more than 180 scientific articles and mentored many graduate students in the sensory analysis field. She co-authored three textbooks, including “Principles of Sensory Evaluation,” which was the key text for an entire generation of sensory scientists.

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