Former U prof, milk researcher dies at 81

Nichol Nelson

Robert Jenness, an award-winning researcher of milk and faculty member at the University for more than 40 years, died Oct. 30 in Alamogordo, N.M. He was 81.
Hailed as a “scholar’s scholar,” by his colleagues, Jenness received multiple awards for his work in milk chemistry in the University’s Department of Biochemistry from 1940 to 1984, when he retired.
Rex Lovrien worked with Jenness in the biochemistry department. He called Jenness a “real scholar” and said that Jenness’ agricultural background gave him a distinctive character.
“He had an outlook that you might say was representative of a hard-rock New England farmer,” Lovrien said.
In addition to his 44 years of teaching and researching, Jenness served as adviser or co-adviser to 33 graduate students. Lovrien said Jenness was “critical, but fair” — qualities that made him immensely popular with students.
“When he said something, you could really believe it,” Lovrien said.
Jenness was honored with the Borden Award for Chemistry of Milk in 1953, collecting a gold medal and $1,000 from Borden for his work with dairy research.
The American Dairy Science Association awarded Jenness with its Distinguished Service Award in 1986, citing his work with chemical changes in the processing of milk. Jenness also contributed to the development of powdered milk, a product that allows for easy storage of the quick-spoiling beverage.
His research is well documented in hundreds of scholarly articles. In 1959, Jenness also co-authored Principles of Dairy Chemistry, a book that became the standard text in dairy chemistry on campuses across the nation.
After he retired from the University, Jenness moved to New Mexico, where he continued to work in the field of milk chemistry until his death.
Jenness is survived by his wife Katherine and three sons, Douglas, Ian and David.