Scientist Wins Top National Research Honor
By Marcia Wood
February 12, 2003
BELTSVILLE, Md., Feb.
12Research about how to capture the flavor and freshness of pears,
apples, tomatoes and other produce in healthful, fun-to-eat snacks have
garnered a top scientific honor for Bay Area food technologist Tara H. McHugh.
For this research and her superb leadership skills as head of the
Agricultural Research Service's
Foods Research Unit in Albany, Calif., McHugh has received the ARS Herbert
L. Rothbart "Outstanding Early Career Research Scientist of 2002"
McHugh and other high-achieving ARS scientists were honored today at the
agency's annual awards ceremony, held at the ARS
Henry A. Wallace Beltsville Agricultural
Research Center here. ARS presents the Rothbart award to the agency's top
scientist whose highest academic degree was received within the past 10 years.
The honor includes a plaque, cash prize and additional research funds.
McHugh holds three patents for her creative, successful new technologies for
converting fruit and vegetable purees and concentrates into colorful,
all-natural food wraps, snack bars and other healthful, appetizing new food
"Dr. McHugh's career has been distinguished by imaginative, effective
research," said Edward B. Knipling, acting ARS administrator. "Food
items she has invented should help Americans get the recommended five to six
servings a day of fruits and vegetables, needed for optimal health.
"Estimates indicate that most Americans eat only half of this
recommended amount," he noted. "Dr. McHugh's innovations will give
people other ways to enjoy these healthful foods, in addition to
already-familiar fresh-market, canned, frozen or dried items.
"In addition, McHugh's inventions provide new profit opportunities for
growers and may thus help shore up the financial base of struggling rural
communities," Knipling noted.
McHugh began working with ARS at the agency's
Western Regional Research Center in
Albany in 1993, and, by 2002, had been selected to direct the Processed Foods
Research Unit there.
Her edible wraps--tasty, all-fruit or all-veggie films--could reduce the
need for synthetic packaging material used today to preserve and protect foods.
The work has led to numerous collaborations with companies, attracted the
attention of news media nationwide, and won her a
Popular Science magazine "Best
of What's New" award.
She is the author or co-author of more than 20 scientific publications and
has presented results of her work at scientific meetings in the United States
McHugh received her bachelor of science degree in 1989 in food science from
Cornell University and her doctorate, also in food science, in 1993 from the
University of California, Davis.