The Oregon State University Sesquicentennial Oral History Project

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Ron Wrolstad Oral History Interview

Life history interview conducted by Chris Petersen.

December 14, 2015


“A Life in Food Science”  December 14, 2015  Location: Valley Library, Oregon State University.  Watch Video | Download Transcript (PDF)

In the interview, Wrolstad discusses his upbringing on a turkey farm near Molalla, Oregon, his experience of school growing up, and his decision to attend Oregon State College. In reflecting on his OSC years, Wrolstad touches upon his academic progression in Food Science and Technology, and his social activities. He then shares his institutional knowledge of the history of maraschino cherry development at Oregon State, noting the major contributions of Ernest Wiegand and mentioning his own work on the use of radish extract as a natural colorant. Returning to memories of his undergraduate years, Wrolstad comments on his involvement with Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity and the OSC Rally Committee, and reflects on his sense of campus culture during the late 1950s.

Wrolstad next provides an overview of his graduate school experience at UC - Davis, remarking on individuals who made an impact on him, and outlining the research that he conducted while a doctoral candidate. He then describes his year abroad as a post-doctoral fellow at the Unilever Research Laboratory in Bedford, England.

The remainder of the session is chiefly devoted to Wrolstad's activities as a member of the OSU Food Science and Technology faculty. In this, he discusses the circumstances by which he returned to OSU, settling in as a faculty member, and struggling to build a funding base for his research. He likewise details several of the research projects that he led, including work on the color of strawberry jam, an important program of research on fruit juice adulteration, and later investigations on the phytochemical composition and antioxidant properties of fruits and vegetables. He also touches upon his relationship with Australia and New Zealand, and mentions additional research that he has led on natural colorants.

The interview concludes with notes on teaching, Wrolstad's perspective on change within the Food Science and Technology department, and his sense of OSU's direction as it looks toward its 150th birthday.