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Stephen Babcock

AKA Stephen Moulton Babcock

Born: 22-Oct-1843
Birthplace: Bridgewater, NY
Died: 2-Jul-1931
Location of death: Madison, WI
Cause of death: Heart Failure
Remains: Buried, Forest Hill Cemetery, Madison, WI

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Chemist, Agriculturalist

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Chemistry of milk

At the University of Wisconsin in 1890, agricultural chemist Stephen Babcock devised a quick test to measure the butterfat content of raw milk. This put an end to some farmers' practice of watering down milk, and allowed milk to be sold based on quality, not merely weight. The Babcock test allowed more consistency in dairy products, provided the first financial incentive for farmers to deliver higher-quality milk, helped establish the superior reputation of Wisconsin cheese, and led to large-scale processing of butter, cheese, cream, and other dairy products. In dairyland states, Babcock's butterfat tester was revolutionary, and the Professor became famous but not rich -- he refused to patent the test. He received only a bronze plaque from the state legislature.

Babcock also developed a viable cold-curing process for cheese, established a system for measuring the viscosity of liquids, and made technical improvements to cream separators and to machinery used for the pasteurization of milk. He devised the famous "single-grain" experiments that showed that cattle that ate corn fared better than cows fed other grains, helping to establish the scientific basis of nutrition, and leading to the premium price still paid for corn-fed cattle. The University of Wisconsin's Babcock Institute for International Dairy Research and Development is named in his honor, and the school's Babcock Hall Dairy is famous for gourmet-quality cheeses and ice cream.

Father: Peleg Brown Babcock (b. 10-Sep-1813, d. 2-Apr-1857)
Mother: Cornelia Scott (d. 25-Jan-1902)
Brother: Linn Boyd Babcock (b. 26-May-1850)
Wife: May Cornelia Crandall (m. 27-Oct-1896, d. 1927)

    University: Tufts University (1866)
    Scholar: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (1867-72)
    Scholar: Cornell University (1972-74)
    University: PhD Organic Chemistry, University of Göttingen (1879)
    Teacher: Agricultural Chemistry, Cornell University (1881-82)
    Professor: Agricultural Chemistry, University of Wisconsin at Madison (1887-1913)

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