Lois Sather McGill ~ the Food Science and Technology change maker!

Thanks to SCARC student worker Mary Williams for this blog post!

Sather in 1947, President's Office Photographs (P092:0522)

Sather in 1947, President’s Office Photographs (P092:0522)

Lois Sather McGill, born Lois Ann Young, was born in 1923 in Wilsonville, Oregon. During her long career at Oregon State University, Sather McGill started and ran the food testing program, wrote or co-wrote over 50 technical papers from her studies, paved a path for women in the Department of Food Sciences and Technology, and maintained a strong connection to the scientific community in her involvement with multiple committees.

At the time of her retirement she was given the title of Emeritus Professor and recognized as major contributor to the Department she dedicated nearly forty years to.

From the years 1941-1945 Sather McGill studied for a B.S. in Home Economics and was hired as an Instructor and Research Assistant for the Department of Food Sciences and Technology right after graduating, making her the first woman to be hired in the program. Her job was to “set up a sensory evaluation program” at Oregon State University, and by 1946 she had the program up and running. During her time in this position, Sather McGill helped to conduct flavor tests and research various case studies in taste. She chose to leave three years later in order to dedicate her time to “family matters.”

On September 1, 1946, Sather McGill married her first husband, Glenn V. Sather. The couple had three children between the years of 1948 and 1952 named Alan, Ronald, and Larry. At this point, Sather McGill chose to stay at home and “devoted [herself] mainly to family responsibilities.” After the birth of her third child, Larry, she resumed her position at Oregon State University as Instructor and Research Assistant as a replacement for Ruth M. Smith. After rejoining the faculty in 1953, Sather McGill remained at the university until her retirement.

Two years after rejoining the Department of Food Sciences and Technology, Sather McGill was given the position of Assistant Professor. Within her first year back in charge of the Flavorium, or food testing panel, it had grown to nearly 100-200 faculty or staff judges. The program was also given its own specific building along with expanded kitchen facilities and flavor booths. She began to focus much of her research on frozen packaging, with special attention to recipes for green beans and other produce.

Lois Sather at a food research meeting, 1958. Extension Bulletin Illustrations Photograph Collection (P 020)

Lois Sather at a food research meeting, 1958. Extension Bulletin Illustrations Photograph Collection (P020:1627)

In the April of 1966, Sather McGill’s husband, Glenn V. Sather, passed away, leaving her with three sons at the ages of about eighteen, sixteen, and fourteen. She married her second husband, Thomas E. McGill on August 10, 1969 who had three sons of his own, Patrick, Timothy and Dennis. Together they had a family of six children all varying in age.

From 1963 to 1972, she held the position of Associate Professor and earned the title of Professor of Food Science and Technology in 1973, which she maintained until her retirement. During her career, Sather McGill had been a part of flavor studies, took part in of 50 published technical papers, developed multiple dried fruit and vegetable recipes, and researched the factors that influence consumers preferences for beef.

While working at Oregon State she was extremely involved in multiple programs, both on campus and within the community, often earning her recognition for her work. In April of 1971, she was named as one of Corvallis’ Women of Achievement, and in May she was named “Employee of the Year” by the faculty chapter of the Oregon State Employees Association. She was a recognized member of National Institute of Food Technologies, and was in 1983 was elected as a Fellow after having held every office in the Oregon Section of the institute. Sather McGill was also a part of American Home Economics Association; American Dairy Science Association; American Society for Testing Materials; Sigma Xi, Science Honorary; Corvallis Chamber of Commerce; Altrusa; Century Club; Eastern Star; and the Kappa Delta Sorority.

In her 1983 retirement announcement, Sather McGill was described as having “an important role in the development of the curriculum, in developing [the] internship program and has been the leader for [the] undergraduate advising program.” In that same year she was offered the title of Emeritus Professor and was later honored with Earl Price Award of Excellence for Student Advising. After her retirement, she continued to be involved in the department and in 1989 was recognized as Early Contributor in Sensory Evaluation by Committee E-18 on Sensory Evaluation of Materials & Products, ASTM.

Mina McDaniel was hired to replace Sather McGill. Listen to or read McDaniel’s oral history online.

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