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Ruth Leverton

Professor, Home Economics

Ruth Mandeville Leverton attended the University of Nebraska, graduating with a degree in Home Economics in 1928. She taught school for two years in rural Nebraska, and then moved to Tucson to study nutrition at the University of Arizona. She received her Masters degree there in 1932. She then went to the University of Chicago and earned a PhD in 1937. Her doctoral research focused on iron needs in women.

Leverton accepted a teaching position at the University of Nebraska College of Home Economics upon completion of her PhD. She was also appointed to the Agriculture Experiment Station, where she continued to study the nutritional needs of women, particularly the importance of iron. During this time she was given laboratory space in the meat laboratory, since the Experiment Station was over crowded. She began to lobby University administrators for a new building with space more suitable for nutrition research. In 1941 the Food and Nutrition Building was constructed. While at Nebraska, she was recognized for her work with essential amino acids in women’s diets, and for her now classic text Food Becomes You, which was published in multiple four editions. She dedicated the book to the women of Nebraska and their families.

Leverton stayed at the University of Nebraska for 17 years. In 1957 she was hired by the United States Department of Agriculture, Human Nutrition Research Division. Leverton held increasingly responsible positions with the USDA. She was professionally active and received numerous awards, including a Fulbright that took her to the Phillipines. She traveled throughout Europe, Asia and Africa promoting proper nutrition through UNESCO and the FAO.

Ruth Leverton died in 1982. In 1976, the Food and Nutrition Building was renamed in her honor.

Source Information:
Jeffrey S Hampl and Marilynn I. Schnepf. Ruth M. Leverton (1908–1982) in The Journal of Nutrition. 1999;129:1769-177