The Oregon State University Sesquicentennial Oral History Project

Sort Interviews by Affiliation or Theme

Mina McDaniel Oral History Interview

Life history interview conducted by Janice Dilg.

December 1, 2015


Mina Rae McDaniel was born in 1944 in Salem, Oregon, where she was raised with her twin sister. An enthusiastic student growing up, McDaniel graduated from North Salem High School in 1962 and promptly enrolled at Oregon State University. Originally intending to study to be a physical education teacher, McDaniel switched her major to Food Science and Technology on the advice of a friend. While at OSU, McDaniel participated in the Food Science Club and also competed in the National Institute of Food Technologies college bowl. She was likewise a member of the Oregon State women's field hockey, basketball, and softball teams in the era preceding Title IX.

During her senior year at OSU, the chair of Food Science suggested that McDaniel pursue graduate study in the sensory sciences. As such, following the completion of her undergraduate work in 1967, McDaniel remained at Oregon State as a master's degree candidate, continuing on in the Food Science and Technology Department. Her master's research focused on the sensory and analytical aspects of fatty acids in sweet cream butter.

McDaniel completed her OSU graduate degree in 1968. She then moved to New Jersey, where she had accepted a position with International Flavors and Fragrances as a food technologist in charge of sensory evaluation.

In 1970, McDaniel decided to go back to school to pursue her Ph.D in sensory science. She chose the University of Massachusetts - Amherst, and conducted research on the use of scaling to gauge personal opinions. The specific focus of McDaniel's doctoral dissertation was the implementation of a new scaling system to rate testers' perceptions of different types of whiskey sours. She completed her doctorate in 1972.

McDaniel's first faculty position was at the University of Manitoba in the Department of Foods and Nutrition, where she taught food chemistry, sensory science, and food quality evaluation classes. She also engaged in a wide array of research projects, including the acceptability of different baby foods to infants, the binding of flavors to proteins, and the relationships between color and flavor.

In 1980, McDaniel left Manitoba to pursue new avenues as a private consultant, working with the food industry, government, and universities. In 1983, McDaniel returned to Oregon State University as an assistant professor in the College of Agricultural Sciences, and as head of the OSU Sensory Science Laboratory. McDaniel's projects at OSU included collaboration with the school wine program, descriptive analysis of Asian noodles, evaluation of hop varieties, and analyses of existing beers with the goal of finding a market for a new one. She has been a member of the Institute of Food Technologists, the American Society of Enology and Viticulture, and the American Society of Brewing Chemists, among other professional organizations.

Over the course of her tenure as a faculty member at Oregon State, McDaniel was also actively engaged with several initiatives to improve the status of women on campus. A member of the OSU Women's Center board of directors from 1988 to 1990, she received the center's Women of Achievement Award in 1999. In 2004, McDaniel was promoted to director of Academic Programs and Academic Assessment, an administrative post organized within the Department of Academic Affairs and International Programs. She held this position until 2006, when a debilitating chronic illness forced her to retire.