Friday, June 2, 2017

A Tribute to Fred Kummerow

AOCS’ oldest and arguably most newsworthy member, Fred Kummerow, died at the age of 102. Extensive tributes to the life and career of this University of Illinois professor whose lawsuit in 2013 led the US Food and Drug Administration to ban trans fats can be found in The New York Times, the Washington Post, and many other news sources.

But, here I would like to share with you some inside stories about Fred’s contributions to AOCS that were passed on to me from George Willhite, the former editor of Inform magazine.
Fred Kummerow served as an AOCS board member and as AOCS secretary in 1974. When AOCS offices were at 508 S. Sixth St. in Champaign, Illinois, USA, Fred’s Harlan E. Moore research lab was located at the southwest corner of Sixth and Springfield in a building that was torn down many years ago.

For a brief time (in the late 70s or early 80s) Fred was abstracts editor for the Journal of the American Oil Chemists’ Society (JAOCS). However, he turned in abstracts primarily covering nutritional fats and seldom, if ever, provided abstracts on industrial uses, proteins, soap, detergents, or other applications for oils and fats. That led to a decision to discontinue the JAOCS abstracts section, in part, because of limited coverage of other subject areas. As JAOCS Editor Dick Baldwin noted, by that time most researchers did computer literature searches. The abstracts section was revived in the early 2000s by Inform’s Editor-in-Chief Emeritus, Jim Rattray under the heading, “Extracts & Distillates.”

Fred remained an active researcher even when his age reached three digits. Over the years I’ve worked at AOCS, I had both the honor and pleasure of having him call me periodically to discuss whatever research project he was conducting. His mind was always sharp, and he always had something interesting to say.

Submitted by Kathy Heine, Managing Editor, INFORM magazine.

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