May/June 2017
2017 Spudwoman of the Year: Addie Waxman

Addie Waxman is the recipient of the inaugural award sponsored by Lockwood.

2017 has been a big year for Addie Waxman. She graduated May 13 from the University of Idaho with her Ph.D. in plant sciences. She is also the recipient of the inaugural Spudwoman of the Year Award.

Waxman is the director of research and development for 1,4GROUP in Meridian, Idaho, a developer and supplier of innovative dormancy and sprout inhibiting products for the potato storage industry. In this role, she conducts research and testing on potato storage products including methylated naphthalenes, essential oils, ketones, alcohols and CIPC. She provides testing of these storage crop protectants in small scale, large scale and commercially sized potato storage units. She also advises industry applicators in choosing the best programs for their storages based upon unit size, desired holding time and potato variety.

Waxman performs a small-scale product test on a potato sample at 1,4 Group’s storage facilities in Meridian, Idaho. Photos: Kyleigh Milburn

Waxman has worked in the potato industry for 13 years. She has been with 1,4 Group for just over seven years, and worked for nearly six years as a food scientist at J.R. Simplot in Caldwell, Idaho, where she had developed several french fry products. Waxman said that while she was at Simplot, she discovered she had a tongue that was hypersensitive to flavors and food textures. Knowing this, she participated with McDonald’s in a training program and attained her Golden Tongue certification.

The Golden Tongue process is a series of sensory trainings that Waxman first encountered while working at Simplot during the 1990s. This certification means she can grade french fry quality based on color, aroma, flavor and texture. After successfully passing the program at Simplot, she attended a two-week training at McDonald’s University in Oak Brook, Illinois, and received this certification from the McDonald’s Quality Systems program. For her Ph.D. program, she once again requalified as a Golden Tongue through Simplot in 2013 and 2014.

Moving up the latter

Waxman started at 1,4GROUP as a research associate in 2010, and was mentored by Jim Zalewski, who encouraged her to move forward in her Ph.D. program. In June 2012, she started her program with the University of Idaho as a non-traditional student, and 1,4GROUP funded her academic pursuits through its educational lift program, providing facilities and resources to enable her to conduct her research at her workplace. The topic for her research was the effect of harvest timing and storage duration on end product quality of three processing varieties — russet Burbank, Alpine russet and Clearwater russet.

“I really have to thank Jeff Stark for taking me on as a Ph.D. candidate,” Waxman said. “I was non-traditional, I was a distance learner, I was 45 years old, and he really went out on a limb for me.”

Stark is the superintendent with the University of Idaho’s Aberdeen Research and Extension Center. He liked the fact that her research could build on past learning with her Golden Tongue experience, making hers a unique processing project, Waxman said.

“Addie completed her Ph.D., which involved the Clearwater variety, the newly approved McDonald’s french fry, from field through postharvest storage and preservation,” said John Forsythe, general manager, 1,4GROUP. “For two years Addie planted, monitored, harvested and ran postharvest studies on three potato varieties as well as taste testing the varieties in fry studies. The ‘Golden Tongue’ certification from McDonald’s has been awarded to Addie and has aided in her taste testing abilities. Her research on the Clearwater variety concerning the impact of harvest timing on french fry quality will, and is, proving valuable for processors such as Simplot, Lamb Weston and McCain’s.”

The Spudwoman of the Year Award is sponsored by Lockwood Manufacturing. Spudman magazine developed this award to recognize potato industry leaders who are making an impact in the industry from all segments including growers, shippers, researchers and marketers. Regarding her numerous nominations and being named the recipient of the Spudwoman of the Year Award, Waxman expressed her gratitude.

“For a large contingency of peers and associates who nominated me, that touched my heart,” Waxman said. “I’m grateful that people I think so highly of also think highly of me.”

2017 is also a big year for another reason for Waxman. In her Jewish faith, the number 50 bears significance for Jubilee, a time of freedom and for celebration. “I am 50 years old, but still feel new to this industry,” she said. “This means a lot to me to receive this award. I am sincerely humbled, and will endeavor to deserve this. It’s so neat to be 50 years old and starting something new. It makes me feel young.”

Special thanks to Spudwoman of the Year Award sponsor Lockwood Manufacturing, the Spudwoman of the Year Award judges and also to the National Potato Council for making it possible to present this award during the NPC Summer Meeting on June 28-30 in Denver.

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