CELS BIG THINKER – Alum Paul Maugle
Food Science Research Takes Alum on a Riverine Career Path
Paul Maugle views his path in life like a river, with swirling eddies, fast rapids, slow shallows, and great depths. The meandering flow of the University of Rhode Island alum’s lengthy career took him around the world to work in diverse facets of the food science industry. Now, the current brought him back to the U.S. where he continues to put his science skills to good use in an encore career in winemaking.
“I worked overseas in college and saw that most of the world was starving, so I wanted to see what I could do about it,” reveals Maugle, Ph.D. in Food Science and Nutrition from URI’s College of the Environment and Life Sciences (CELS), of his early motivations to study food science.
After completing a master’s degree, doctoral degree, and postdoctoral fellowship in CELS, Maugle went on to devote his life to improving the food stability and nutrition of people in developing countries. He seamlessly moved between different aspects of food science when he advocated for life-saving nutritional supplements in Africa, South America and Asia; researched ways to improve shrimp and fish production in South and Central America; and enhanced aquaculture techniques to provide more sustenance to malnourished communities around the world. “Giving back was a big part of my career,” reflects Maugle.
Maugle also patented a method that could potentially reduce food instability by increasing aquaculture production using Vitamin C to improve survival and growth rates of marine creatures. His technique may be used to help to alleviate hunger by allowing more food to be grown with similar quantities of resources.
Now in semi-retirement, Maugle uses his vast knowledge of chemistry, entomology, and biology–all subjects he studied at CELS and utilized throughout his food science career–to embark on new vocation of winemaking.
“Fortunately, with the vineyard I’ve been able to stay in the science field,” laughs Maugle as he explains the surprising similarities between his past career and his current vocation. Just like in science, making high-quality wine is all about asking the right questions and experimenting. “I’m always learning new techniques, new skills, new approaches. It’s part of the fun and creativity.”
While traveling for his food science work in France and Chile, Maugle and his wife discovered their passion for wine and winemaking. After decades of traversing the world to study and work in nutrition, Maugle decided to settle down as co-owner of Maugle Sierra Vineyards in Ledyard, Connecticut. “Sometimes you just want to watch the sunset with a glass of red wine,” reflects Maugle of his decision to purchase the 97-acre, 18th century vineyard in the rolling coastal hills of New England.
He learned the winemaking process from international producers and looked forward to owning his own vineyard in retirement. Maugle confesses, however, that “with the vineyard, I am working harder than I ever did before!”
Maugle always loved working with food, whether it be fish or shrimp in an aquaculture tank, fortified animal feed in an analytical laboratory, or wine in the coastal breeze of a vineyard. “After a time, your work becomes part of who you are. You have to find something that you really like and stay with it,” offers Maugle. Food has always been Maugle’s focus, but the route of this accomplished researcher was anything but a straight line.