After over 30 years of working as a Food Scientist at Washington State University’s School of Food Science, Dr. Charles Edwards announced that he will be retiring.
Dr. Edwards began his journey to Pullman at his family vineyard in the San Joaquin Valley of California. It was at his family vineyard that he learned hard work. When he was 8 years old, he was working in the vineyard and driving tractors. When he was 10, he was already learning how to drive a truck.
“I can remember having to prune a vineyard for the first time, and how cold it was standing outside in the Central Valley of California,” Edwards said. “I had dew on my rubber boots. I couldn’t believe it… It just was a wonderful, wonderful time growing up.”
After, Edwards traveled all the way across the country to Ithaca, New York where he would attend Cornell University. He packed all his belongings in his Volkswagen Squareback and traveled over 2,000 miles away from family. There was no internet to keep in contact with family or local friends. It was during this time that he would undergo a large amount of self-discovery.
“I drove across country into the unknown,” he said. “And when you do that, I think you learn a sense of self. I also think you learn a sense of ‘you can get through this; you can do this.’”
Finishing his Master of Science in Food Science at Cornell University and his Doctor of Philosophy in Food Science from Penn State University meant that Edwards was looking for his next opportunity. That next opportunity took him to Prosser, Washington.
Edwards spent three years in Prosser before he moved to Pullman. During his time in Pullman, he earned full professor status and was able to change the way wine microbiology was understood. His team of students would end up making not one, not two, but four discoveries that changed the way that food scientists thought of the discipline of wine microbiology.
While he will no longer be educating students, he will forever cherish the memories that he made over his time at Washington State. While there are many things that he wants to be remembered for, one thing that he will look fondly upon was his collection of ties. He likes to brag that he has enough ties to wear a different one every day of the semester – and not wear all of them.
“It’s been an absolute honor and privilege to be here. It’s an honor to be in front of the classroom,” Dr. Edwards said. “I’ve had some just absolutely wonderful undergrads and grads here, and it’s been an absolute privilege to be able to be in front of them and show them a different way of thinking.