Pearl Swanson was the first woman to serve as assistant director of an experiment station in the United States. She received her B.S. in chemistry from Carleton College in 1916, her master’s from the University of Minnesota in 1924, and in 1930, like Mabel Nelson and Ercel Eppright, she earned a Ph.D. in Physiological Chemistry from Yale.
She was a professor of Food and Nutrition at Iowa State from 1930 to 1967 and received her pioneering position at the experiment station in 1944. During her 17 years at the station, Swanson rallied for an increased emphasis on research and encouraged extension involvement from all the departments on campus.
In her own research Swanson focused on dietary problems of expecting mothers and the changing diets of women as they grow older. She wrote numerous papers on interesting topics like, “Ice Cream is Good and Good for You,” and “Do Iowa Women Eat Enough Protein?”
In 1955, she received the prestigious Borden Award for outstanding work in the field of food and nutrition.
After she retired, the Pearl Swanson Graduate Fellowship was established in her honor.