I am Senior Preceptor (faculty position with PI status & voting rights) in Chemical Engineering and Applied Materials at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. I co-teach and manage the General Education course Science and Cooking: From Haute Cuisine to Soft Matter Science (SPU 27), which explores how everyday cooking and haute cuisine can illuminate basic principles in chemistry and physics. The course includes lectures by visiting top chefs from around the world, and the related public lecture series features these same lectures to the general public.
I am lead course developer and co-instructor of Science & CookingX, an online version of the college course and one of the largest courses on Edx. Based on the course materials in this class, I also teach an online and a hybrid course at the Harvard Extension School.
My interest in small molecules and fermentation led me to design a novel, project-based course: Flavor Molecules of Food Fermentation: Exploration and Inquiry (ES 24), offered for the first time in Spring 2015. The course is unique in that it uses food fermentations as a way to explore not only microbial communities and characterization, but also metabolism and chemical properties and characterization of the small molecules that contribute taste and aroma in fermented foods. I am currenlty in the process of reworking this course into an online HarvardX course to be offered on the Edx platform.
I am author and principal developer of the interactive textbook Science and Cooking: A Companion to the Harvard Course, which presents content in a combined media format of short videos, graphics, equations and text. I am also editor of the book Online Chemistry Education and the Effect on the On Campus Classroom (American Chemical Society/Oxford University Press), an organizer of symposia on online science education (American Chemical Society National Meetings: Spring 2015 and 2016), and regularly involved in various outreach activities to K12 students, science educators, and the general public.
I received a B.S. in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry from Yale University in 2005, and a Ph.D. in Chemical Biology from Harvard University in 2011. While at Yale I conducted research on the crystal structure of the Group I Intron in the laboratory of Professor Scott A. Strobel. I also performed historical science research on the 18th century Swedish chemist Jöns Jakob Berzelius under the supervision of Professor Michael J. McBride. My doctoral work with Professor Ulrike S. Eggert focused on small molecule natural products and their effect on cell division and other cellular processes.
Previously, I studied literature at the University of Tübingen in Germany, researched chemical synthesis of supra molecules in the Ken Raymond Lab at UC Berkeley, and worked on a long-term project conducting research and science outreach for the protection of sea turtles on the island Zakynthos in Greece.
My research interests range from chemical biology to science and engineering education — with an emphasis on online education and creative ways of teaching science and engineering in a liberal arts setting. Recently my interests have evolved to include various aspects of the science of food, as well as flavor chemistry and the chemical and microbial processes of fermentation.