Food Innovation Center

Collaborating for a healthier, hunger-free world.

Herbert Ockerman honored for international contributions

News March 2011: Ockerman is elected a Fellow of the Institute of Food Technologists, the honorary society of food science.  Read his nomination statement here.The Ohio State Lantern news photo of Ockerman in front of a world map

Herbert Ockerman, a founding member of the Food Innovation Center, is a 2010 recipient of the Distinguished Diversity Enhancement Award from Ohio State.  In his 49 years in academia, Ockerman has demonstrated a persistent passion for educating international students about food and agriculture. He has also made it his mission to supply books to schools and libraries in need around the globe.

Ockerman, a professor in animal sciences, has advised 95 international students from 35 countries and 86 post-doctorate and visiting scholars from 24 countries. “My graduate students do work on projects that are relevant and appropriate to their home country,” said Ockerman. Many of his international students return to their countries where they help boost food and agricultural capacity. 

With a jovial spirit, Ockerman joked from behind his desk, “A former student once told me that I could be parachuted anywhere in the world and find one of my students within 15 minutes.  I think that’s probably an exaggeration though.  It might take me 20 minutes.”

He went on to describe a former student involved with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations who successfully developed a food product to feed people in underdeveloped and disaster-struck areas of the world.  “That project was particularly challenging because the food needed to be inexpensive, nutritional, and have a long shelf life,” he said.

In addition to his work with international students, Ockerman has started an ongoing project where he collects and sends books to underdeveloped countries. 
Herb Ockerman Book ShipmentThe idea for his book donations came from a trip to Brazil where he visited a school and noticed there were not any books.  The students there told him that there were no books anywhere in the school.  Ockerman said he thought to himself, “There are plenty of problems in the world: this is one I can do something about.”   He has been collecting and shipping the books overseas ever since. He has coordinated more than 1,500 shipments around the world, receiving many unsought awards along the way. Those honors include having a library in the Philippines named after him and receiving honorary degrees from Poland and the Philippines.

When awarded with the Distinguished Diversity Enhancement Award, it was said that for Ockerman, the world is his classroom.  “Any conversation with Herb would reveal that that is the truth,” said Carolee Barber, the Executive Manager of the Food Innovation Center.

The Food Innovation Center congratulates Herbert Ockerman on his recent award and his devotion to education and food and agricultural issues within the Ohio State and international communities.

Story written by Alex Barkley. Portions adapted from with permission.