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Flavor Molecules of Food Fermentations: Exploration and Inquiry            
Harvard College 
Spring 2015, Spring 2016

Microorganisms produce a diverse array of specialized small molecules as part of their metabolic processes. In this course we study the production, properties, and characterization of these molecules through the lens of food fermentation. In particular, we focus on the small molecules that contribute taste and aroma in fermented foods. Students experience the scientific inquiry process in a creative way by designing and implementing their own research project based on a fermented food of their choosing. 

The ultimate goal of this class is to guide students in conducting a successful research project, successful meaning a project that is substantive, original, and addressing a question whose answer would make a genuine contribution to knowledge about flavor molecules and fermentation. 

Our approach is to start the semester with a deep-dive into the field: we try our hands at various fermentation processes, explore the literature, engage with visiting speakers, and make a small number of local field trips. Throughout we engage with the material by asking questions and exploring potential research projects. We then spend the second half of the semester working on the projects, while sharing and collectively discussing our findings. This course is in many ways a mini-version of the scientific process: from a cursory interest in a field, to tangible data and communication and publication of results. [course website (harvard log in)], [pdf syllabus]


Science and Cooking: From Haute Cuisine to Soft Matter Science           
Harvard College 
Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015

This course discusses concepts from the physical sciences that underpin both everyday cooking and haute cuisine. The content, including the delicious and edible (!) labs, have been developed in collaboration with the El Bulli Foundation in Spain. Each week a world-class chef visits and present their remarkable culinary designs. Inspired by this, the course then explores scientific topics ranging from energy, diffusion, and heat transfer, to emulsions, foams, and viscosity.

Students spend the last five weeks of the course working on a practical project connecting some aspect of cooking to science. The  results are presented at the course-wide science fair. At the end of the course, students are able to explain how a range of cooking techniques and recipes work, in terms of the physical and chemical transformations of the food. 

The visiting chefs rotate, but in 2015 they included: Andoni Aduriz (Mugaritz), José Andrés (minibar, Jaleo, The Bazaar, ThinkFoodGroup) Joanne Chang (Flour Bakery, Myers and Chang), Jim Lahey (Sullivan Street Bakery), Mark Ladner (Pasta Flyer, Del Posto),  Josep Roca (El Celler de Can Roca), Bryan and Michael Voltaggio (Ink, AGGIO, VOLT), and Tara Whitsitt (Fermentation Truck). The course also includes demos and lectures by other leaders in the field, including Ferran Adria (El Bulli Foundation), authors Harold McGee (On Food and Cooking, Keys to Good Cooking), Nathan Myhrvold (Modernist Cuisine), and food scientist Dave Arnold (Booker and Dax, Cooking Issues). [course website (harvard log in)], [pdf syllabus]


Science and Cooking: From Haute Cuisine to Soft Matter Science           
Harvard X, EdX platform
Fall 2013/Spring 2014, Summer/Fall 2015

This course is an online version of the on-campus Science and Cooking course. During each week of the course, chefs reveal the secrets behind some of their most famous culinary creations – often right in their own restaurants. Inspired by such cooking mastery, the course staff then explains the science behind the recipe. The labs have been re-worked for a standard kitchen and students have the opportunity to be experimental scientists in their own laboratories – their kitchens.

The course has been offered twice on the Edx platform enrolling 100,000 registrants in 2013 and 73,000+ registrants in 2015. Students can take the course for free, or choose to pay a small fee to obtain a Verified Certificate. In between each offering the course is available as an archived course and students can explore the material at their own pace, but cannot get credit. [course website], [visual syllabus]


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Science and Cooking, hybrid or online                                
Harvard Extension School
Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016

This course is based on the on-campus version of Science and Cooking and offers an opportunity for non-harvard college students to take the course for credit through Harvard Extension School. The course involves considerably more human interaction and personalized feedback than the Harvard X course. Students watch online videos, complete problem sets, and perform lab exercises in their kitchens, all while being connected to the course staff and classmates through the online discussion forum and web conferencing. Alternatively, the hybrid version combines weekly online lectures with on-campus activities. The course concludes with students working on a final project of their choosing and presenting it to the class at the online science fair. [hybrid course], [online course]


—   ENGINEERING SCIENCES 91r   ——————————————————
Supervised Reading and Research                                  
Harvard College
Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014

This course offers students the opportunity to work on an individual research project under the supervision of a faculty member. Alumni of Science and Cooking who want to continue working on their final project can sign up for this course to do so for credit. Students can also explore a new topic. Past projects have ranged from optimizing the performance of kitchen appliances, to chocolate tempering, vegan ice cream substitutes, and Japanese candy.