Barbara Landrum Rice graduated with a dietetics degree within the School of Human Environmental Sciences (HES) in 1962, and will be inducted into the UK Hall of Distinguished Alumni on April 16, 2010. This honor is bestowed to a select group of UK alumni every five years.
Rice began her career in dietetics at UK. After graduating with her bachelor's degree she attended California State University, where she received a master's degree in nutrition and foods. She has received many awards and recognitions, has numerous publications to her credit, and is affiliated with several professional organizations; however, what she is most known for is perhaps her work at NASA.
Rice is a research dietician at NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. In short, she is the dietician for U.S. astronauts. She selects the food they will consume during their mission, and then monitors what exactly they eat during the flight and after they return.
A frequently asked question of Rice is whether the astronauts have any say over their diet. "They do have the option of taking special foods from home," says Rice. "One astronaut flew Girl Scout cookies. But the food does have to be specially wrapped to endure the rigors of space flight."
Her career in nutrition has been greatly influenced by her Kentucky up-bringing. She grew up on a farm in Franklin, Kentucky, and participated in 4-H and the Future Homemakers of America. She says her experience at UK taught her "the basics and gave [her] an excellent foundation. The experience in the nutrition laboratory helped me learn techniques which were very useful...in my work in the nutritional-biochemistry laboratory at Johnson Space Center."
In addition to being inducted into the HES Hall of Fame several years ago, Barbara was presented the Distinguished Lecture in HES in 1999 and has established the Barbara Landrum Rice Endowed Library Fund in Dietetics. With other family members, she also established the Bessie C. Landrum Scholarship in memory of her mother. Notable honors she has received include the NASA Technology Inventions and Contributions Award, the Silver Snoopy Personal Award for Professional Excellence (Astronaut Corps, Johnson Space Center), and the NASA Group Achievement Award.
Rice will present a lecture titled "Nutrition and Foods of Space Flight" on April 15 at 10 a.m. in the Auditorium at the W.T. Young Library. The lecture is open to anyone who would like to attend. For more information, please call 257-3887.