MANHATTAN, KANSAS, US— David Wetzel, who pioneered the use of modern analytical techniques such as Near-Infrared Spectroscopy in the study of wheat and flour while on the faculty of Kansas State University’s (KSU) Department of Grain Science and Industry, died on July 11. He was 85.
As a KSU professor, Wetzel’s graduate students developed HPLC methods applied to cereals while his technicians did NIR. With the introduction of the first commercial infrared microscope, he became increasingly involved with FT-IR microspectroscopy, and established the Microbeam Molecular Spectroscopy laboratory at KSU.
The result of research completed in this laboratory and at Brookhaven National Laboratory has been reported in 325 presentations and 94 publications. He is published in more than 40 different journals or proceedings and authored three recent invited book chapters on infrared microspectroscopy and imaging.
“He was a special scholar who used science as a means to address practical issues,” said Dr. Jeff Gwirtz, who served on the grain science department faculty with Wetzel and is now flour milling industry consultant. “He was very helpful to many of the milling faculty.”
Wetzel was born in Rock Island, Illinois, US, on Sept. 26, 1934. He received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Augustana College, in 1956; a master’s degree in analytical chemistry from Kansas State in 1962; and a PhD in analytical chemistry from Kansas State in 1973.
In his obituary published in The Kansas City Star, it was noted that Wetzel “loved to travel, especially to scientific meetings around the world, discussing new techniques with colleagues … he loved summers doing research at Brookhaven National Lab on Long Island, where he also relished eating lobster, sailing, and jumping waves on nearby Fire Island. He served as an academic mentor and loved seeing his graduate students succeed, including one who went on to train 35 graduate students of his own at Harvard Medical School.”
Survivors include his wife, Constance of Manhattan; sons, Louis and wife Jane (Bichelmeyer) of Westwood, Kansas, US, and Mark and wife Rita (Kelley) of Roeland Park, Kansas, US; and sister Rhoda Schirmer of Joliet, Illinois, US.
A celebration will be held at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church, 4801 Anderson Avenue, Manhattan, Kansas, 66503 on Friday, July 22: Visitation 9:30 a.m., Service 10:30, light luncheon 11:30. Interment at St. Paul Lutheran Church, 9719 Clarks Creek Road 1:30 p.m.
Memorial gifts may be made to the St. Luke’s Building Fund at stlukesmanhattan.org. Funeral arrangements, tributes, and flowers by Yorgensen-Meloan-Londeen of Manhattan.