May 12, 2023

Longtime food science professor dies at age 96

Norman Potter, a longtime food science professor at Cornell University, has died at age 96.

Potter, author of widely used textbook Food Science, died March 6.

A professor emeritus of food science, Potter spent 13 years working in the food processing industry before joining Cornell’s Department of Food Science in 1966.

Norman Potter, a longtime food science professor at Cornell University, has died at age 96. Photo: Provided

Along with teaching courses to thousands of students, Potter conducted cutting-edge research on processing effects on microbial safety and functional and nutritional properties of foods, as well as preservation of foods for developing regions. He was issued six patents for his work, including three relating to ice cream and frozen desserts.

“More than 50 U.S. patents in the late 1960s cited Dr. Potter’s patents as relevant to their work,” Robert Gravani, a former colleague and Cornell professor emeritus of food science, said on the university’s website. “Dr. Potter is certainly one of the pioneers in the field of food science education, and he has unquestionably left an indelible mark.”

Potter also consulted with federal nutritional organizations and served as a visiting professor at the University of Reading in England.

Food Science, authored in 1968, is now in its fifth edition and has been translated into multiple languages and continues to be a leading textbook in universities worldwide.

Potter received the William V. Cruess Award for excellence in education from the Institute of Food Technologists in 1985. He retired from Cornell in 1992.

“Norm was one of very few professors in the department who had real industry experience, and he was able to talk about food science in a way that captured my imagination and kept me in the department,” said Steven Young, a former student of Potter’s and Cornell graduate who is now principal of Steven Young Worldwide, a food industry consulting and training company that specializes in the science and technology of ice cream. “Norm was the kind of guy that was proactive in advising. He enjoyed knowing what students were involved in, he’d follow up to see how things worked out. He was an adviser to everyone.”

Potter attended Cornell on the GI Bill, earning a bachelor’s degree in bacteriology. He received his master’s and doctoral degrees from Iowa State University. Potter met his wife, Adele (Hoffstein) Potter, at Cornell. The couple were married for 73 years.

Potter is survived by two sons, four grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

Be sure to check out our other specialty agriculture brands

Organic Grower