Mary Andross (known as Maryann ) was born on the 17th of March 1895 in Irvine, Ayrshire. She graduated with a BSc from Glasgow University in 1916 and thereafter undertook post graduate work with Professor George G Henderson, firstly at the Technical College (now Strathclyde University), and then at the University of Glasgow. During World War I she worked as a day teacher at Irvine Royal Academy, 1916-1917, and then at the Ministry of Munitions Inspections Department on poison gases, 1917-1919. From 1919 to 1923 she worked as a Chemistry Assistant at the University of Glasgow.
Mary Andross was appointed as lecturer in the Science Department of the Glasgow and West of Scotland College of Domestic Science on 1 September 1924, becoming Head of the Department in 1933. There she pioneered courses for the training of dieticians and made many original contributions to developing knowledge of the chemical composition of food. By 1936 a new diet kitchen and research laboratory for dieticians was added to the College. This facilitated her opportunity for research. In particular, she applied analytical procedures to determine the effect of cooking on the nutrients in every day foodstuffs. In this field her most notable contributions were to the study of changes in food proteins, especially during the cooking of meat and of eggs. She was an inspiring and able lecturer and was not only popular with her students but was much sought after as a public speaker, particularly in the Women’s Rural Institute and Women’s Guild meetings.
She gained the respect of chemists and food scientists. In 1951 she became a Fellow of the Royal Institute of Chemistry and in 1964 a Fellow of the Institute of Food Science and Technology. She was also a member of the Nutrition Society and of the Society of Chemical Industry, and served on the committees of both.
During World War II she excelled in three major areas of work. She carried out research on sources of vitamin C, especially in work with rosehips, and in producing cost effective nutritious menus to make rations go further. She was one of the leading organisers and active participants in the canteen for servicemen, which was run by the College in St Enoch Station and in providing the backup service of the mobile canteen. She played a leading role in the College’s canning, bottling and pickling service in 1940, and headed a team of staff members who used their vacations to offer this important service to rural areas and districts around Scotland.
She also contributed to the social life of the College, helping to organise events, being involved in sporting activities and becoming President of the College Former Students’ Association. She loved the outdoors and her hobbies were fishing and the history and customs of Scotland, especially the Ayrshire and the West Highlands. She also loved visiting the island of Harris which became almost like her second home.
Mary Andross retired from the College in June 1965 and died in her native Ayrshire in February 1968.