In Memoriam: Susan Ellen Dunn Duncan, 1959-2022

Susan Duncan, a professor of food science and technology, associate director of Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station, and director of the Center for Advanced Innovation in Agriculture at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, died at her home in Hiwassee, Virginia, on October 12. She was 63 years old.

A native of Mansfield, Ohio, Dr. Duncan earned a bachelor’s degree in food technology at Ohio State University. She earned a master’s degree in foods and nutrition from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a Ph.D. in food technology from the University of Tennessee.

Dr. Duncan started her career at Virginia Tech in 1990 when she was the first woman hired as an assistant professor in the department of food science and technology. After her promotion to the rank of professor, she was named the associate director of the Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station. She also served as the director of the Center for Advanced Innovation in Agriculture. Dr. Duncan taught at Virginia Tech for 32 years.

At Virginia Tech, Dr. Duncan focused her research on the sensory and chemical characterization of food and beverages. She conducted extensive research on how light exposure causes milk to oxidize, affecting its lifespan, taste, and nutritional value. Her work resulted in light-protective retail packaging for dairy products. Dr. Duncan was affectionately known to her students as “The Dairy Queen.”

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