Science’s Real-World Applications

“When I hear, ‘I get it, everything is connected’ — that’s what I live for,” says Associate Professor Irit Cohen. How do you get non-science students to enjoy science? For Associate Professor Irit Cohen, who teaches biology, chemistry and mathematics at JWU’s Denver Campus, the trick is to focus on how science relates to the real world.

“I enjoy showing them the beauty and making them think, ‘I can be a scientist. I can take that path,’” the cell and molecular biologist says.

Using Science to Become a Better Chef
It’s an approach that worked for Brenton Tidwell '10: “Professor Cohen’s food microbiology class was probably my favorite class here in Denver. Anyone who wants to cook food for a living should take it,” says the culinary nutrition major.

“In culinary classes, we’re taught that cooking chicken to 165˚ makes it safe to eat. In her class, we analyze what happens when you don’t follow food safety rules and hazardous bacteria like giardia, salmonella and hepatitis invade the human body.”

Being able to study the “dangerous stuff” that happens when food isn’t properly prepared “teaches you the proper respect for food,” he says.

Student Becomes the Teacher
A big part of Brenton’s senior internship at Essential Nutrition, a full-service nutrition counseling company, involved teaching proper food safety techniques to clients in their own kitchens.

“Every time I do one-on-one consultations, I use what I learned in her class,” he explains. “The number one place where people get food-borne illness is at home — and there’s nothing more satisfying than teaching clients how to cook safely.”

Cohen loves hearing about students using science to solve everyday problems. “That instance when I hear, ‘I get it. Everything is connected.’ That’s what I live for.”