• Volume 18 Number 2
    Spring 2009


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Elaine Wedral, BS '66
 Sunset, S.C..  •  Profiled: Spring ’94

Public health volunteer

Elaine Wedral

When Elaine (Maesso) Wedral retired in 2006, she thought she would start to slow down and enjoy time with her family and dog. However, that’s just not her nature.

She became the volunteer president of the nonprofit International Life Sciences Institute.

“ILSI is a wonderful organization. Scientists from academia, government and industry freely dedicate their time and knowledge to translate basic research into practical solutions to benefit public health,” Wedral says.

“I think consumers are often confused with the number of conflicting research results reported. These complex scientific questions need resolution, and ILSI does a lot of science-based evidence reviews, which helps to translate science into practical solutions for consumers.”

Her work at ILSI has included review of process controls and kill steps to prevent Salmonella contamination of foods, studies on the prevalence of E. coli 0157:H7 in processed food, and the development of detection techniques. The organization also has examined the health effects of transfatty acids and the impact of high fructose corn syrup consumption in the diet. The group is also studying the sources and quantity of sodium and potassium in the American diet.

“I truly believe in what we are trying to accomplish, and this is my payback time, which I could not be more pleased to do,” she says.

Before retirement, Wedral had a 34-year career in food science, much of it at Nestlé, where she was president and chairman of Westreco, the North American research and development arm of Nestlé.

Her passion for science started while she was growing up in Fraser, Mich., and was expanded during her undergrad days at Purdue.

“My passion for science started when I won a summer science scholarship and could choose a university to spend my summer at,” she says. “I chose Purdue, and that summer I learned a lot and found that Purdue was where I wanted to go to college.”

After graduating from Purdue in 1966, she earned her master’s and doctoral degrees at Cornell University.

“What is outstanding about Purdue is that it is a large school and yet it still gives students a very personal touch. I felt as an undergrad, as I feel today, that Purdue cultured and nurtured my talents. Purdue Agriculture can often be underestimated, but if someone wants to build a large structure, it first must start with a great foundation, and I don’t believe I could have found a better foundation than at Purdue.”