The Jacobs-Root Endowed Professorship in Food Science and Technology

The Jacobs-Root Endowed Professorship, awarded by position to the head of the Department of Food Science and Technology, was established in 1996 when Robert and Betty Root of Medford combined their donation with a gift from Jaclyn Jacobs Rusch. All three are OSU graduates.

Mrs. Rusch was the first woman to begin as a freshman and complete her degree in OSU’s Department of Food Science and Technology. The Jacobs name of the professorship comes from her father, Ernest Engler Jacobs, who worked for many years as a chemist with Lyons Magnus, a food-processing company in San Francisco. Ernest Jacobs supervised a large maraschino cherry production facility, and thereby became a close friend of OSU Professor Ernest Wiegand, inventor of the maraschino cherry. Mrs. Rusch was interested in memorializing her father and perpetuating his work by honoring the friendship he’d developed with Professor Wiegand and Oregon State.

Bob Root, a 1938 graduate in horticulture, also became associated with Professor Wiegand as a graduate student in the Department of Food Science and Technology. While at OSU, he met his wife Betty, a 1942 graduate in secretarial science. He went on to become president of Myron, Root, & Company (later Sabaroso), a fruit growing and processing business in Medford. Mr. Root served as a member of the state legislature (1952-53), was appointed Chairman of Oregon’s Telecommunications Advisory Committee in 1977, and was selected as one of three non-lawyers on the Board of Governors of the Oregon State Bar in 1984. Mr. Root passed away in 1997 and is survived by Mrs. Root and three children, two of whom are OSU alumni; the third, though not a graduate of OSU, has served on the board of the E.R. Jackman Foundation.


Robert J. McGorrin

Professor Robert J. McGorrin became the Jacobs-Root Endowed Professor of Food Science and Technology and chair of the food science department in 2000. He came to Oregon State with 22 years of research and development experience in flavor chemistry, food analysis, and strategic research with two of the leading food manufacturers, Kraft Foods and Quaker Oats.

Dr. McGorrin's research focus is primarily in flavor chemistry and trace volatile analyses, including the identification of key aroma compounds in dairy and food products, studies of chemical interactions among flavors and food components, and the effects of processing and packaging on flavor generation and deterioration. His additional research interests are food component analysis, chromatography and separations, mass spectrometry, and natural products chemistry.

Dr. McGorrin received his bachelors in science from Northwestern University and his doctorate in organic/medicinal chemistry from the University of Illinois in 1980.

During his industrial career, Dr. McGorrin completed exploratory research projects on oat flavor chemistry, leading to flavor optimizations for ready-to-eat cereals. He conducted fundamental research on key compounds in Cheddar cheese flavor, and led the development of fat-free flavor systems for ice cream, salad dressing, and processed cheese. Most recently, he managed Kraft's Strategic Innovative Research section of the corporation's Research & Development Center in Glenview, Ill., where he helped create advanced flavor and aroma technologies for long-range growth projects. He was named as a fellow of the American Chemical Society in 2014.


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