Dr. Gonca Pasin’s passion was bright and fueled with endless energy. As the executive director of the California Dairy Research Foundation (CDRF), she guided innovation by expanding and communicating scientific research. Unfortunately, after fighting a serious illness, Gonca has left us all too soon. While we are deeply saddened, the trail she blazed has left a clear path to follow.
Gonca brought a great amount of knowledge, experience, and enthusiasm to CDRF. Gonca received her B.S., R.D., and Teaching Diploma in Nutritional Sciences and Dietetics (Summa Cum Laude) from Hacettepe University in Ankara, Turkey; her Ph.D. in Food Technology from the University of Reading, England; her post-doc from the National Institute for Research in Dairying in Reading (NIRD), England; and tenure from the Department of Food Engineering, Hacettepe University. Beyond her intellect, teaching skills, and award-winning research, she had a desire to make a difference by bridging scientific research with industry innovation.
As executive director of CDRF, Gonca was a loud voice for science and its universal value to agriculture, the environment, and public health. She managed California dairy farmer’s check-off dollars to support research and education with great care and respect for their work. She also worked closely with Dairy Cares to support communication about dairy farmers’ milestones in environmental stewardship and sustainability.
“Dr. Pasin was committed. From determining research needs and executing those projects, to communicating the results. She always paid careful attention to the details and to how that research would help move the dairy industry forward,” said Michael Boccadoro, executive director for Dairy Cares.
Gonca was passionate about science and the pursuit of the highest quality research possible to support dairy nutrition, innovation, and long-term sustainability. She helped create and lead programs that scientifically validate the positive progress California dairy farmers continue to make in protecting the environment, their animals, and the delivery of safe, nutritious products. Her legacy includes a dairy research portfolio with a wide breadth and depth that continues to provide innovation for the dairy industry and a path to future research.
Gonca loved to travel, tell grand stories, and share great food and conversation with friends, colleagues, students, and new associates. Her child-like curiosity and excitement about the world and other people was contagious. She was passionate about helping dairy farmers. She loved the people she worked with and the cows—evident by her collection of cow figurines.
While the California dairy community will greatly miss Gonca’s flair, dedication, and leadership, we will remember her well. CDRF, Dairy Cares, and other partner organizations will continue to build upon the research she managed and the standards she created. Inspired by her spirit and building upon the research she developed, California’s dairy leaders will continue use science as guide for innovation and world-leading sustainability.