University of California Seal

Norman Haard


Norman F. Haard

Professor of Food Science and Technology

UC Davis

1941 – 2012


Professor Emeritus Norman F. Haard was born in New York City, earned a B.S. in food science from Rutgers University (1963) and a Ph.D. in food biochemistry from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst (1967). Norm was a renowned food biochemist whose 35-year career in food biochemistry research initially focused on fruits and vegetables and later on marine food products and by-products, especially enzymes. He joined the UC Davis Department of Food Science and Technology (FST) faculty in 1986. He retired in 2003 and passed away June 29, 2012 at the age of 70 in Magalia, CA after a nine-year battle with cancer.


At Rutgers, his outstanding ability was recognized by being named the 1973 Samuel Cate Prescott award recipient (for younger researchers) presented by the Institute of Food Technologists. Relocating to Memorial University in Newfoundland, he initially continued his interest in fruits and vegetables, but then shifted his primary focus to the biochemistry of fish, and other aquatic creatures. He maintained this focus for the rest of his career. He contributed significantly to the development of fish product research and the development of new training programs at St Johns, and received the Young Scientist of the Year Award while in Canada.


Joining UC Davis in 1986, Norm maintained his interest in fish and his biochemistry research focused on the science and technology of marine food products, use of fishery by-products and unconventional species, and the role of enzymes in seafood processing. “The [UC Davis FST] department wanted to find the best scientist in the country to advance our understanding of the biochemistry of fish and seafood,” recalled Professor Emeritus Larry Merson, former FST department chair. “At the same time, we wanted to find someone who understood the importance of the seafood industry with respect to the American diet. We found that unique person in Norm Haard who brought with him a stellar record of research and teaching in marine resources, as well as experience working on the biochemistry of fruits and cereals.” His research provided key contributions through his cutting edge studies on the biochemistry of fish systems. His outstanding work was recognized by a series of prestigious awards. He was known as a leading expert on the enzymes of aquatic creatures, and championed the utilization of these enzymes as alternatives to similar enzymes from plant systems. His dual interest in aquatic systems and in fruits and vegetables made him uniquely qualified to evaluate the pros and cons of each source.


Norm was prolific in authoring over 250 publications in peer-reviewed scientific journals, authoring many important chapters that contributed to several textbooks and tomes. He also held four patents.


Given his wide-ranging expertise in enzyme biochemistry, he was an important mentor for more than 100 graduate students, and 15 postdoctoral researchers from around the world, and also helped establish and assist several higher education food biochemistry programs in China, Pakistan, Mexico, Uruguay, Thailand and Canada. His students and colleagues recognized both his extensive knowledge of his field, and also the caring and responsible way in which he passed on, and utilized this knowledge. He was a credit to the UC system and an important role model.


As a journal editor, Norm had a key impact in advancing food science and technology. For more than 30 years, he served as associate editor and then editor in chief of the Journal of Food Biochemistry. He served on six U.S. and Canadian editorial boards of peer reviewed journals.


Norm was elected a Fellow of the Institute of Food Technologists (2001). He also received the prestigious Earl P. McFee Award (1997) from the Atlantic Fisheries Technology Conference for his outstanding and extraordinary contributions to seafood science and technology. He was also president of the 54th Pacific Fisheries Technologists conference.


In addition to retiring as Professor Emeritus from the UC Davis FST, he was an Honorary Professor in the Department of Biochemistry at Memorial University and named a Visiting Professor at National Taiwan Ocean University, Department of Food Science.


Norm was physically active and interested in sports. In high school he played varsity lacrosse. He also rowed intercollegiate crew for Rutgers University. He was an occasional golfer, often combining “fishing” for golf balls with playing. He was also a gardener and won the UC Davis Institute of Marine Resources tomato growing contest.


Shortly after moving to Davis, Norm became a Christian. This new commitment to Christ affected numerous aspects of his life, and gave him new opportunities for leadership. Norm was active in his local church in Davis, and, after his retirement in Paradise, CA. Norm was committed to Christian missions in the U.S. and overseas. He went on several short-term mission trips and helped in the financial support of missionaries in many countries. He was active in Gideons International for 25 years, most recently as distribution chairman for the Chico Gideon Camp.


In more recent years, Norm’s major outside interests focused on his family, faith and fishing. “In many ways, Norm’s life centered around the central theme of fish,” said Vicky Haard, his wife of 48 years. “Fish were not only the subject of his scientific research, fishing was also his favorite hobby, fish his favorite food and the fisherman a symbol in his Christian faith,” she said. Haard grew up fishing with his father in the Atlantic; fly-fishing was his favorite. Norm would go on to fish the Pacific and throughout the United States, as well as Newfoundland, New Zealand, Mexico and Ghana. Like many fishermen, he loved the outdoors. When he retired, he moved to a beautiful home in the woods next to a lake.


Pamela Tom, David Ogrydziak, David Reid, John Bruhn and Victoria Haard