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Distinguished food scientist to receive honorary degree at commencement

1/31/2011 | Jeff Unger, News Bureau | 217-3331085;

[ Email | Share ] CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Gary R. List, a retired consultant for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has been chosen to receive an honorary doctor of science degree at the 2 p.m. campuswide Commencement ceremony May 15 at the Assembly Hall.

List, of Washington, Ill., has made many distinguished contributions in the field of edible oils – food products consumed by millions of people every day. His methods have been standardized and adopted worldwide in the 30 years since their development.

List’s development of nitrogen blanketing of soybean oils to improve long-term storage has become a standard industry practice. His work on the preparation of margarine and shortening has been widely adopted by the edible oils industry. Dozens of industrial plants using this technology have been built, and millions of pounds of edible oil are processed annually in Europe, Asia, and the U.S. using the technology he developed.

List was a pioneer in the detection of trans fatty acids, and in the development of alternative methods to produce fats and oils with similar properties but lacking trans fatty acids. One of his professional responsibilities was the formulation of margarines and spreads containing no trans fatty acids. The reduction in trans fatty acids in margarine and the fats and oils used in processed foods as a result of the implementation of methods he developed will likely save thousands of lives each year because of the associated reduction in vascular diseases.

List earned an associate degree in applied science at Illinois Central College, East Peoria, Ill., and is a graduate of the U.S. Army Chemical Corps School.

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