B.S. Agricultural Engineering, 1984
VP Technical Innovation
OFD Foods, LLC
Walt Pebley is VP of Technical Innovation for OFD Foods LLC, the largest, diversified freeze dryer in North America. There is a reason he is a technical innovator: “I like to connect seemingly disparate engineering disciplines to find an appropriate solution,” Pebley said.
While his company, also known as Oregon Freeze Dry, has built its business by producing freeze-dried cereals, meals for the military, outdoor adventures, and emergency preparedness since the 1960s, Pebley has been working on expanding the broader applications of the science.
Early on, he spent a few years studying cell biology before transferring to Oregon State to pursue a degree in agricultural engineering. He was looking for a career that would benefit humanity. But it wasn’t until his dad, a designer and equipment fabricator, pulled him into a building-design project for OFD in 1982 that the puzzle pieces began to fit together. Pebley’s inspiration that freeze-dry technology might be used to preserve cellular activity led to a job with OFD and gave the company a new revenue stream providing cellpreservation services on a contract basis.
Through years of interdisciplinary exploration in adapting the technology to the stabilization of compounds, cells, and inorganics, he’s developed a skillset that has led to proprietary, patented, and scalable solutions.
Currently, he is working with Oregon State researchers to investigate how freeze-dry techniques can be used to improve gut microbiome health and gut-brain access to nutrient-dense, functional foods for applications in sports performance and recovery, and for use by the United States military. Pebley is also passionate about perfecting the fusion of food and medicine as a personalized delivery system to treat and control chronic disease. “Our technology could be used to augment traditional approaches to treatment while providing a higher quality of life through diet for patients battling chemotherapy and chronic pain,” he said.
Pebley remains methodical as he keeps an eye on this prize: “There is always more than one solution to a problem, but there is a best solution, if you creatively persevere.”