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IFAS Behind-the-Scenes Tour

Supporters recently received an “insider’s look” at some of UF/IFAS’ most exciting research. The UF/IFAS Behind-the-Scenes Tour, hosted by Dr. Jeanna Mastrodicasa in conjunction with IFAS Development, was created for alumni and friends to directly engage with university scientists. The tour’s first stop focused on the UF/IFAS Plant Innovation Center where Dr. Linda Bartoshuk and Dr. Charlie Sims discussed the science of flavor. They explained how taste and smell interact to create the sensation of flavor, and how each individual perceives taste uniquely. In particular, Dr. Bartoshuk spoke about her research on “supertasters,” people who have an unusually high density of taste buds. She also discussed how research in plant volatiles could increase consumption of fruits and vegetables–For example, by making broccoli taste less bitter. Participants had the opportunity to question the scientists and take part in several demonstrations, including altering their taste buds with miracle fruit tablets. After letting the tablets dissolve on their tongues, guests found that lemons tasted like oranges and tomatoes tasted like candy.  Dr. Sims concluded by leading a tour of the UF taste panel facilities.

2015 Dinner of Distinction behind the scenes IFAS tour.

Tour guests hold their noses to experience the way volatiles affect the flavor of a strawberry.

2015 Dinner of Distinction behind the scenes IFAS tour.

Tour participants are surprised to find that lemons taste sweet after dissolving miracle fruit tablets on their tongues.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2015 Dinner of Distinction behind the scenes IFAS tour.

Dr. Rebecca Baldwin cooks up some meal worms for brave guests to sample.

The second stop on the tour was the UF/IFAS Entomology and Nematology Department located at Steinmetz Hall.  Dr. Rebecca Baldwin, the entomology and nematology undergraduate coordinator, debunked some common bug myths, explained how to check for bedbugs, and discussed how people all over the world eat insects as a source of dietary protein. She even cooked up a few meal worms for tour attendees to enjoy! Additionally, tour guests sampled brownies made with cricket flour and had hands-on experience with the department’s “arthropod petting zoo”—guests had the chance to pet a tarantula, scorpion, hissing cockroach and giant millipede. Additionally, two entomology graduate students spoke to the group about their research, and guests met the new department chair, Dr. Blair Siegfried.

2015 Dinner of Distinction behind the scenes IFAS tour.

Guests had the opportunity to pet a tarantula as part of the “arthropod petting zoo.”

From plants to bugs and everything in between, UF/IFAS is involved in the science of better living. Much our research is made possible due to the generosity of private donations. If you would like more information about giving to support UF/IFAS, please e-mail us at development@ifas.ufl.edu or give us a call at 352-392-1975.