Pizza & Prof: Dr. Jen Aizenman

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On November 4th the Honors Program held its third Pizza & Prof event of the semester featuring Dr. Jen Aizenman. Dr. Jen Aizenman is the director of the Center for the Advancement of STEM Education (CASE), which works to promote STEM literacy in the community. Her Pizza & Prof event was broken down into two parts, beginning with a discussion of why science and science literature is so important and then moving on to a hands on science activity that is done at CASE.

Dr. Jen Aizenman started the event by talking about her work at CASE and the importance of educating others about science. The discussion focused on many different aspects and uses of science. Dr. Aizenman showed a clip of Jon Stewart from The Daily Show that highlighted the resistance the House of Representatives has had in regard to taking action to combat global warming.  Another area of science talked about during this portion of the event included the correlation between a decrease in vaccines and an increase in illnesses, such as measles.

The hands on science portion that made up the second half of this Pizza & Prof event was a taste party. The taste party began by participants being able to test themselves to determine if were “tasters” or “non-tasters” of PTC, an extremely bitter compound. During the next part of the taste party, participants dissolved a tablet of Miraculin in their mouths to change their perception of taste. Miraculin, a glycoprotein extracted from the Synsepalum dulcificum berry, makes sour foods taste sweet.  After letting the Miraculin dissolve, individuals tasted lemons, sour patch kids, and strawberries to see if they could notice a difference…and they did! Most found the lemons to taste like sweet lemonade!

We hope to see you all at our next Pizza & Prof event on November 19th with English Professor Bruce Machart!

-K. A.

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