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Mary Gearing4

Nutritional science has come a long way!  From its beginnings as a component of Domestic Science/Home Economics programs that taught students how to cook, sew, garden, and take care of children in the early 1900's, nutritional science has evolved to a broad-ranging field that includes dietetics, health and eating behavior, developmental biology, big data systems, biochemistry, molecular biology, and genetics.

At UT-Austin, this evolution began in 1912, when Mary E. Gearing joined the faculty of the University of Texas, where she worked to create a vibrant School of Domestic Economy, which later became the Department of Home Economics. She was the first woman to hold the ranks of professor and department chairman, serving in that role for 31 years. At a time when there were few professional opportunities for women, Mary Gearing proved to be an unstoppable champion for educating parents and advocating for children and families.  When she retired in 1942, the department offered six majors and included a food technology research division and an established graduate program in Home Economics. In 1988, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board approved the PhD Program in Nutritional Sciences. The Department of Home Economics was re-named as the School of Human Ecology in 2008, and the Department of Nutritional Sciences was established at this time.

Today, the educational mission of the Department of Nutritional Sciences is carried out in the food science laboratories and the Susie Jastrow Teaching Kitchen in Mary E. Gearing Hall, established in honor of the trailblazing efforts of Professor Mary Gearing.