MORRIS PLAINS, NJ. — Louise Slade, PhD, a research biochemist known for her fundamental insights into the basic chemistry of foods, died Oct. 7. She was 74 years old.
Dr. Slade obtained her doctorate degree in chemistry at Columbia University in 1974 and followed with a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Illinois. After her fellowship, she joined General Foods as a research scientist. She went on to spend her entire research career in the food industry, as a research fellow with both Nabisco and Kraft Foods. Dr. Slade collaborated with her research and life partner of over 40 years, Harry Levine, PhD, to create a novel approach to what is now termed “food polymer science.”
The work of Dr. Slade and Dr. Levine resulted in 47 granted patents, most of which were turned into practical advances in such commercial foods as cookies, crackers, snack chips and soft ice cream. They also worked together to develop rich, fundamental links between flour testing methods (most notably, Dr. Slade’s new solvent retention capacity (SRC) method) and food quality. Late in her career, she was honored by having a new soft wheat cultivar, “Louise,” named after her by the cultivar’s breeder, Kim Kidwell, PhD, and the USDA Western Wheat Quality lab led by Craig Morris, PhD.
Dr. Slade received many awards during her career, including the Institute of Food Technologists’ Industrial Scientist Award, which she received along with Dr. Levine for their major technical contributions to the advancement of the food industry. In 2004, they were honored with the prestigious Tanner Award from the IFT Chicago Section. In addition, Drs. Slade (in 2016) and Levine (in 2018) were elected IFT Fellows. In 2007, Drs. Slade and Levine received the Halverson Award from the Milling and Baking Division of AACC International.
Following her retirement from Kraft Foods in 2006, Dr. Slade continued her involvement in basic food science by creating her own consulting business, Food Polymer Science Consultancy, with Dr. Levine. She later became affiliated with the Monell Chemical Senses Center, a research organization in Philadelphia that studies taste, smell, and related senses. She worked in various roles at Monell, and at her death, she was a member of the Monell Center board of directors.
Hamed Faridi, PhD, a colleague of Dr. Slade at Nabisco, described her as “likely the only Nobel Prize caliber food scientist in the last 50 years.”
She is survived by her partner, Dr. Levine.