Understanding Dr. Lloyd Beidler and His Passion: Taste

By Reem Ikram

Birthday cake, apple pie, chocolate milkshake and spicy buffalo wings. What do they all have in common? Well, they all are examples of flavors that have been synthesized and added to most of our favorite foods. That’s how we have snacks like very berry flavored chewing gum and ranch flavored Doritos. So, how did we manage to do that? Two words, Lloyd Beidler. Widely regarded as “The father of taste physiology,” Dr. Lloyd M. Beidler dedicated a majority of his life to researching and understanding the science of taste buds. His work paved the way for various scientists, the innovations for synthesized flavors, and as well as captivated many into recognizing the functions of our very own taste receptors.

Beidler’s love and energy for science and understanding how things work has been a part of his identity since he was a boy. The Orlando Sentinel shares how as a child he spent most of his time building gadgets from junkyard scraps and building his own lab tables and equipment. He has always been eager and dedicated to learn.

The reason taste became his muse was because it was something humans used frequently. We as a species rely on a few physiological functions such as maintaining energy and passing on our genetic code in order to survive. Beidler felt like it was important to hone in on one of those subjects. When speaking to school children, he would share how eating and sex were the most important things in life. Both functions intrigued him since they both involved taste and smell. His passion for understanding life led him to then invest in comprehending the function of consumption and its biomechanics. And that is how taste became his first love. (Ost)

If you were ever to scout Beidler, you would find him in his office, delving further into his studies behind a large photograph of a tongue with enlarged taste buds dripping with melted ice cream. As a professor at the University of Florida, he managed to win the hearts of many, teaching and encouraging students. “Beidler nonetheless inspires warm feelings from many who know him. They cite his endless energy and ideas, soft heart and encouragement of students’ independent research.” (Ost) His energy for sharing knowledge earned him a notable reputation as a professor and a scientist. Both of which followed him all around the world, as he gave multiple lectures and consultations with many. (Sims)

Though Beidler was a spectacular professor, he actually gained worldly recognition by discovering the renewal of cells within taste buds. According to the National Academy of Sciences, “Beidler focused on measuring taste receptor potentials using an electronic summator, a tool which quantifies electro-physiological activities of sensory nerves used for taste. Beidler was one of the first researchers to provide concrete evidence that taste buds continually die and get replaced.” This find then launched Beidler into sharing his studies. For the Sigma Xi national research society, Beidler managed to attend 20 universities in nine states lecturing his groundwork. He gave talks in Montana, the Dakotas, Missouri, Utah, Colorado, and other states, according to the Tallahassee Democrat, The Daily Provo Herald and Colorado Transcript.

Beidler’s lectures, titled “The Biological Approach to Taste,” gave insight to the response of taste receptors and analyzed the relation between them and chemical stimulation. According to his lecture at the University of Utah on March 29, 1961, chemical sensitivity was one of the earliest developments in animal evolution. All of which aided early humans in food searching, food selection, mating and detection of prey. He identifies various taste bud components and how they consist of chemically sensitive cells that hold finger-like structures which project into the saliva covering the tongue. Beidler also added how human taste impulses are transmitted to the brain by taste nerves and how his analysis now enables scientists to understand taste phenomena in man and the laws that describe them. (Evans)

Following his lecture tour, Dr. Lloyd M. Beidler continued on his research. A fun and notable experiment in which he conducted was in March 1964 as reported by Science News Letter. The experiment focused on the taste sense of children for sweetness tested. In the study, ten children, ages ranging from four to twelve years, were given a series of tests to determine how well they were able to distinguish between degrees of sweetness and saltiness. The children sat at a drugstore counter in front of a shiny box-like machine. The machine then would dispense liquids of three degrees of either saltiness or sweetness. Following the tasting, the children then had to pull one of the three levers to identify what they considered to be the sweetest or saltiest. If a child answered correctly, a nickel dropped out of the machine and the child was rewarded. If answered wrong, the child would get nothing. In both cases, the machine continued pouring out three more glassfulls for them until their 35 minute experiment session ended.  Beidler explained how children were used to experiment since they were easily motivated. His experiment worked wonders on the kids until they began to lose interest after building up a stockpile of hard cash (Society for Science & the Public, 1964).

With Beidler’s drive and passion, research wasn’t the only thing he succeeded in. He also managed to make many more accomplishments during his lifetime. Some of his other major successes included; American Physiological Society’s Bowditch Lectureship for 1959; appointment by John F. Kennedy as the Science Coordinator of U.S. Science Exhibits for the Seattle World’s Fair in 1961; co-founded, with Dan Kenshalo, the psychobiology program at FSU in 1965; Honorary Doctor of Law degree from Muhlenberg College in 1969; FSU’s Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professorship in 1971; election to the National Academy of Sciences in 1974; American Academy of Arts & Sciences in 1975; Resolution of Commendation from Florida’s House of Representatives and Senate in 1987; recipient of the National Institutes of Health Javits Neuroscience Award; served on the nominating committee for the Nobel Prize Award; Board of Directors of the Museum of Electricity; and a member of the Advisory Council of the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (Sims, 2003).

To truly understand Dr. Lloyd M. Beidler and his passion completely would take more than reading a college article. To fully capture Beidler and what he made his life about would take a lifetime. As a remarkable educator and an endearing enthusiast for knowledge and life, he managed to impact a lot more than physiology and food science, He innovated the way we understand science, food and how we eat.

Reem Ikram is a senior at the University of Utah majoring in communication with an emphasis in journalism. She hopes to find a career in television news, magazine publishing or entertainment media. To watch her as she continues on her journey, you can follow her on instagram @thereeemster.  


D. Evans, “Beidler Reveals Taste Sense Perfected Early,” Daily Utah Chronicle, March 30, 1961.

Lloyd M. Beider,” National Academy of Sciences.

Laura Ost, “HIS RESEARCH ALWAYS ON THE TIP OF TONGUE,” Orlando Sentinel, April 26, 1987.

“Physiologist Leaves For Lecture Tour,” Tallahassee Democrat, March 26, 1961.

Physiology Prof to Speak Tonight,” Provo Daily Herald, March 30, 1961.

Dr. Lloyd Mumbauer Beidler Jr.,” Tallahassee Democrat, August 10, 2003.

“To Lecture Here,” Colorado Transcript, February 23, 1961.

Florida Prof to Discuss ‘Taste,'” Daily Utah Chronicle, March 27, 1961.

“‘Why of Taste’ Sets Speech By Sigma Xi,” Daily Utah Chronicle, March 28, 1961.


The Long History Behind the Natural History Museum of Utah

By Heather Ernst

In 1961, “in the basement of the decaying, eroded Biology Building, a collection of Utah fauna [was] cached away wherever room may [have been] found.” The Daily Utah Chronicle further noted that the cramped rooms were known at the time as Utah’s Museum of Natural History. Many university staff and students were pushing then for the construction of a new museum. But it wasn’t until the legislature made House Bill 93, which called for the construction of a Utah State Museum of Natural History, that the building plans were finalized. Now, almost 60 years later, the collection of Utah artifacts that were overflowing in a couple small classrooms in 1961 are housed in an even newer, state of the art building opened in 2011. So how did we get here? What is the history behind our beautiful Natural History Museum of Utah?

We’ll start our historical journey in 1961, when an editorial published on January 30 in the Daily Utah Chronicle called for the construction of a Utah natural history museum. The article referred to the new building as “a must.” Shortly after the article was written, real plans came into effect toward the new Utah State Museum of Natural History. In fact, on September 29, 1965, a Daily Utah Chronicle editor, Paul S. Taylor, reported the new museum was to be housed in the George Thomas Library on the University of Utah campus. The museum had a director, Dr. Jesse D. Jennings, a professor of anthropology, and it was to combine the existing Anthropology and Geology Museums. In a Daily Utah Chronicle article published on February 23, 1968, Jennings stressed the educational importance of the museum, calling it “an integral part of the educational program of the University, for the benefit and enjoyment of the people of Utah.” The people did not have to wait long as the museum officially opened its doors in the fall of 1969.


The George Thomas Library on the University of Utah campus was the home of the Natural History Museum of Utah from 1969 to 2011. The museum was later moved to The Rio Tinto Center in 2011. Used by permission, Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, The University of Utah.

Once the museum was opened in the former George Thomas Library on campus, its allure spread across the Salt Lake Valley. “The museum and its displays will be of great interest to students in a wide variety of disciplines on the campus and will be a significant addition to the state’s cultural resources,” said Jennings in the Daily Utah Chronicle on February 7, 1969. The museum was home to anthropological, biological, and geological materials in a program of exhibits, educations and research. The artifacts were brought from the Desert Museum as well as from the Charles Nettleton Strevell Museum. The new Utah useum was set to house 150 exhibits at the time of its opening, including life-size dinosaur skeletons and dioramas of various areas of Utah. The major group displays were made up of the Wasatch Front, Jurassic Dinosaurs, and Utah Mule Deer. Many of the displays in the museum were funded by private donations plus federal grants. However, University students also had a role in the funding of the museum.

An article from the Daily Utah Chronicle describes how the museum asked the Associated Students of the University of Utah (ASUU) for financial help in developing and maintaining the new museum. The students were asked for $1.50 per student to come from regular fees, and in return, the museum would give them a year’s admission to the museum. The regular admission fee was a single dollar for adults and fifty cents for children under 15; much cheaper than today’s $12-15 admission fees.

By the fall of 1972, the Utah Museum of Natural History had become even more widely known and even received accreditation from the American Association of Museums. On September 27, 1972, the Daily Utah Chronicle reported “of the 6,000 museums in the United States and Canada, only 139 have received accreditation from the American Association of Museums,” making the honor that much more profound. The museum accreditation signifies that a museum has met the standards established by the museum profession and the Accreditation Committee. The museum was praised highly, having been referred to as an exemplary institution for design and technique.


Three of the first mounted dinosaurs were displayed in 1968 at the opening of the new Utah Museum of Natural History. The dinosaurs were an Allosaurus attacking a Camptosaurus, while a second Allosaurus looks on. Used by permission, Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, The University of Utah.

Over the last 60 years, the museum has continued to flourish, grow in popularity and receive plenty of accreditations, including the one from the American Association of Museums. The collections have grown over time through research, acquisition and contributions to add up to more than 1.6 million objects. The museum grew so much. however, that it had to relocate once again into an even larger building in 2011. According to director Sarah B. George in a New York Times interview, the museum had inadequate quarters for research and collection. A new building was needed as soon as possible and a mix of public and private funds pushed the ambitious planning for the new Rio Tinto Center, the home of the Natural History Museum of Utah.

The new museum building, the Rio Tinto Center, was designed by Todd Schliemann. He drew his inspiration for the building from the Utah deserts. Schliemann explained his inspiration saying, “We talked to people about how they felt about their place [in Utah], and it became evident that architecture would have to reflect this place.” (Maffly) The building, which opened on November 18, 2011, is located on 17 acres in the foothills of the Wasatch Mountain Range and cost $102 million to construct. The building has a powerful impact under the shadow of the Wasatch Mountains and is surrounded by biking and hiking trails. The museum is home in the dominion it surveys, the natural world. The building’s exterior directly relates to the natural world surrounding it, covered in copper to resemble the sedimentary layers of Utah’s red rock geology. The roof of the museum features two 10,000 gallon cisterns to store rain water. Gardens of native grasses along the edges of the building help to moderate temperatures. Similarly, the new museum has installed solar voltaic panels on the roof to harvest energy from the sun and put it toward the building’s electrical needs. The best part of the new building was that more than a fourth of the materials came from recycled sources and most of the construction waste was recycled. “The new building represents the rich and natural history of Utah,” said Patti Carpenter, the museum’s public relations director, in a 2011 interview with the Deseret News.

The rich and natural history of Utah has been available for years. However, the construction of the “new” museum in 1969 made that history much more accessible. The Rio Tinto Center increases accessibility to artifacts and Utah natural history while adding a variety of educational and research opportunities that couldn’t be found in the past. The Natural History Museum of Utah has a rich history on its own, but the new building has brought new exhibit galleries, engaging programs for the public and research facilities. The museum has become invaluable to the University of Utah, Utahns as well as tourists. The museum is still a work in progress, with new educational programs and interactive exhibits added regularly, but the progress made over the past 60 years simply cannot be ignored.

Heather Ernst is a senior at The University of Utah. She is majoring in mass communication with an emphasis in journalism and minoring in creative writing.

Primary Sources

New Museum: It’s a Must,” Daily Utah Chronicle, January 30, 1961, 2.

Paul S. Taylor, “Museum of Natural History Planned For New Library,” Daily Utah Chronicle, September 29, 1965, 4.

Suzanne Boynton, “Old Library To Be Museum,” Daily Utah Chronicle, February 23, 1968, 6.

Geoff Towns, “Natural History Museum to house 150 exhibits,” Daily Utah Chronicle, October 8, 1968, 5.

Utah museum represents funds from U students,” Daily Utah Chronicle, February 2, 1969, 12.

Campus houses two accredited museums,” Daily Utah Chronicle, September 27, 1972, 2.

Michael Ann McKinlay, “Museum makeover: Natural History Museum of Utah Rio Tinto Center will open Nov. 18,” Deseret News, November 13, 2011.

Brian Maffly, “Natural History Museum of Utah: Rio Tinto Center designed with a sense of place,” The Salt Lake Tribune, November 14, 2011.

Edward Rothstein, “History Carved Out of the Hills,” The New York Times, March 23, 2012.

Secondary Sources

Accredited,” Davis County Clipper, September 1, 1972, 28.

Hague, Donald V. “Museums in Utah,” Utah History Encyclopedia.

Natural History Museum of Utah announces opening,” Utah Business, November 1, 2011, 16.



This map shows the hot spots of affected areas from nuclear fallout caused by the bomb tests at the Nevada Test Site. Used by permission, Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, The University of Utah.

By Maddie Colosimo

In the 1950s and 1960s, the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) ordered the United States government to conduct nuclear tests in the western states. This resulted in numerous people living around this area getting exposed to nuclear fallout and contracting some form of cancer. These people were later referred to as the Downwinders. At the same time of these tests, the University of Utah received a $3 million grant from the AEC to put toward nuclear research. This article will give a brief history of the AEC, examine the university’s role in the tests, and discuss the legacy of the Downwinders today.

As World War II ended, the United States Government created the Atomic Energy Commission to control nuclear development under President Harry Truman. Aside from aiding in national defense, Congress wanted the AEC to “promote world peace, improve public welfare, and strengthen free competition in private enterprise.” The Atomic Energy Act was then signed by Truman on August 1, 1946. (Buck, p. 1)

On January 6, 1961, the Daily Utah Chronicle wrote a story about the AEC giving Utah universities grant money for nuclear research. This grant was from the Atomic Energy Commission. They awarded the University of Utah, Utah State, and Brigham Young University a total of $4 million over a 10-year period for research in atomic studies. The University of Utah received the largest chunk at $3,552,528.

On February 3, 1961, an article in the Daily Utah Chronicle announced the addition of a new medical center on campus. This housed a research facility from the Atomic Energy Commission which included dog kennels for beagles as their nuclear test subjects. A reporter wrote a story in the same issue of the Chronicle, predicting the 1960s to be a decade of science with the grant from the AEC as well as Time magazine naming 15 prominent scientists its “Men of the Year.”

The Atomic Energy Commission’s generous grant to the University of Utah supported many research projects on campus that led to many amazing advancements in modern science. Unfortunately, the Atomic Energy Commission left a negative impact in the state of Utah with the fallout of their nuclear testing.

The University of Utah’s Marriott Library recently conducted interviews with many of the surviving Downwinders. Justin Sorenson interviewed a man named Joseph Ward Spendlove. Spendlove was born in Delta, Utah, in 1942 and lived there until 1958. Many members of his community began to get cancer around that time which eventually took the life of his mother. Today he is living with prostate cancer while taking care of his brother, who has a degenerative nerve disease. Doctors are unsure if it is related to the nuclear testing. To this day, Spendlove still attends his high school class reunions where the topic of conversation is almost always centered around who has most recently died of cancer.

Ilene Hacker is another living Downwinder. She was raised in St. George, Utah, through the 1960s. Hacker’s father died from pancreatic cancer when he was just 48 years old. She and 13 of her close friends from high school were diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease. Despite living in the crossfire of nuclear toxicity and being well traveled, Hacker still feels that she is living in the greatest place on earth. With that, she also feels a total distrust of the government.

The nuclear tests done in the western US have had a tremendous impact on the people who inhabit the region. By the firsthand accounts of modern Downwinders, we see this is an issue that persists even today. Ilene Hacker’s distrust in the government is not unwarranted and even members of Congress agree. The fact that so many people died because of nearby nuclear testing provoked a bill in the 1990s by Utah Senator Orrin Hatch to give compensation to these victims. There has been a recent movement to expand the compensation to victims throughout all of Utah, as well as neighboring states like Idaho and Montana and even Guam. For all of those heavily affected, compensation would range from $50,000-$150,000 — which, as the leader of this movement Preston Truman explains — would not even cover the cost of one chemotherapy treatment.

Maddie Colosimo is a senior at the University of Utah and is majoring in communication with an emphasis in strategic communication and minoring in art history.

Primary Sources

AEC Grants For Utah’s Universities Applied in Research,” Daily Utah Chronicle, January 6, 1961, 1.

Important— But…” Daily Utah Chronicle, January 6, 1961, 1.

Law, Business, Medicine Are Building Projects,” Daily Utah Chronicle, February 3, 1961, 9.

Dr. Libby Talks Tonight in Spencer Hall,” Daily Utah Chronicle, March 2, 1961, 1.

Ute Briefs: Atomic Energy,” Daily Utah Chronicle, December 12, 1961, 4.

Atomic Exhibit Due In Salt Lake,” Daily Utah Chronicle, September 2, 1960, 4.

Spendlove, Joseph Ward, et. al. “Interview with Joseph Ward Spendlove, Downwinders of Utah Archive.” Transcript of an oral history conducted on June 25, 2019, by Justin Sorensen and Anthony Sams, Everett L. Cooley Oral History Project, Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, The University of Utah.

Hacker, Ilene, et. al. “Interview with Ilene Hacker, Downwinders of Utah Archive.” Transcript of an oral history conducted on June 12, 2017, by Justin Sorensen. Everett L. Cooley Oral History Project, Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, The University of Utah.

Secondary Sources

Buck, Alice. “The Atomic Energy Commission.” Washington, D.C.: US Department of Energy, 1983

Davidson, Lee. “Utahns who say family members died from cancer because of radioactive fallout would be eligible for $150K under new bill,” Salt Lake Tribune, July 6, 2018.

JCordes, “Scientific Discoveries of the 1960s.”

Utah Department of Environmental Quality, “Impact of Aboveground Nuclear Tests on Southern Utah,” September 11, 2019.