Kalamazoo Section of the American Chemical Society

We are a dynamic and visionary organization committed to improving people’s lives in our community through the transforming power of chemistry.  We strive to advance the broader chemistry enterprise and its practitioners for the benefit of Kalamazoo, Allegan and Van Buren counties.

Chemistry and Culture: Food

Wednesday 29 January 2014

This event has already taken place. For a list of upcoming events, see our events page.

Bell's Eccentric Café
355 E Kalamazoo Ave
6-10 pm

Sense-ational Molecules in Nutrition

As part of its “Chemistry & Culture” series, KACS hosted a free, public event that focused on food titled “Sense-ational Molecules in Nutrition” at Bell's Eccentric Café on January 29, 2014, 6-10 PM. It attracted 98 people who were curious to see a presentation, enjoy demonstrations and a variety of snacks. Dr. Sara Risch of Popz Europe gave the keynote speech connecting nutrition and science by commenting on fats and sodium in foods, among others. She also used jelly beans in order for the audience to experience the difference between taste and flavor. The talk was followed by hands-on-activities. Several different tables were set up for everybody to visit with and learn more about chemesthesis, natural colors, beer foaming action, and emulsions.

Special thanks to our sponsors:


Keynote Speaker: Dr. Sara Risch, Ph.D.

Sara Risch headshot

Sara Risch is the Director of Global R&D and QA for Popz Europe, a microwave popcorn company. Prior to joining Popz, she had her own consulting business, working with food, flavor and packaging companies. Sara moved away from consulting for a couple of years to serve as the Director of the School of Packaging at Michigan State University. She received both her B.S. and Ph.D. in Food Science from the University of Minnesota. She has an M.S. in Food Science from the University of Georgia. Her work has focused primarily on microwave foods and food-package interactions. Sara is active in the American Chemical Society, currently serving as a member of the Committee on Committees. Dr. Risch was elected a Fellow of the American Chemical Society in 2012.

With support from:

In cooperation with:

Treats provided by Victorian Bakery

Cream cheese brownies and lemon bars from Victorian Bakery

Treats provided by Bacchus

Our corporate supporters provided all kinds of tasty treats

Treats provided by Bacchus

No meal is complete without libations

This event would not have been possible without major funding from Kalsec, Waters Corporation and the Great Lakes Concentrates Company (GLCC). KACS thanks additional supporters who provided food samples or gift cards: Victorian Bakery, Harding's Friendly Markets, Hunan Gardens, Bacchus Wine & Spirits, Sawall Health Food, and Family Fare Supermarkets.

Door prize winner

Chemistry major Ashley Mead won a hot pepper pen as door prize.

Berdahl and Schoffers

Elke Schoffers, (Ph.D, KACS Past-Chair) with Don Berdahl, (Ph.D, Kalsec, Executive VP and CTO)

Kalsec Logo Waters Logo GLCC Logo

There were a variety of refreshments and snacks, such as seasonal fruits, meatballs in house-beer-BBQ sauce and stuffed mushrooms from Bell's; crab Rangoon and spring roll appetizers from Hunan Gardens; Victorian Bakery's seeded sour dough bread, cream cheese brownies and lemon bars; cheeses from Bacchus [Wisconsin cheddar, Piave (hard white cheese), Butterkäse (soft, semi-white cheese), and Gourmandise with Kirsch (soft white cheese)], as well as Salsa, hummus, crackers and more.

Audience shot
Group Demo
Food line
Audience shot
Group Demo
Food line
Kalsec volunteers

Thanks to the Kalsec volunteers: Shane McDonald, Tanu Tokle, Mark Wolf, Rongmin Huang, Doug Williams, Mark Schulze and Lindsay Bond

Food line

Drs John Engelmann (KACS Chair) and Don Berdahl (Kalsec)

Activity Shot

Shane McDonald explains pungency to Brian Eklov (KACS Chair-Elect) and Tom Runge

Why Chemistry & Culture?

Chemists are not just experts in their field but are also interested in art, history, cooking, baking, brewing, gardening and exercise, among others. “Elements of Dance” invited all chemists, chemistry enthusiasts and the general public to enjoy ballroom dancing. Future “Chemistry and Culture” themes will address topics like “Art Conservation”, “Forgery”, “Cooking” and “Gardening”, for example.

The goals of the “Chemistry and Culture” series are...

  • To offer a social networking opportunity for members of the Kalamazoo Local Section of the American Chemical Society (KACS) and the public
  • To educate the general public about the goals and activities of KACS
  • To highlight the connections between “chemistry” and “culture”
  • To encourage student participation
  • To instill an appreciation for how chemistry contributes to the world in many ways
  • To forge ties with the local community