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Food Culture, Science, Behavior Discussed at MU Conference

The 8th Annual MU Life Sciences and Society Symposium “Food Sense” will take place in March

March 1st, 2012

Story Contact: Christian Basi, 573-882-4430,

The views and opinions expressed in this “for expert comment” release are based on research and/or opinions of the researcher(s) and/or faculty member(s) and do not reflect the University’s official stance.

By Jerett Rion

COLUMBIA, Mo. – One of the most important decisions humans make every day is what they put in their mouths.  Eating behavior is complex. It is composed of elements that are often at odds, from the sense of taste to the role of food in culture and the sense of a healthy diet. These topics and more will be discussed during the 8th annual Life Sciences & Society Symposium, “Food Sense,” at the University of Missouri on March 16-18.

Experts in nutrition, taste science, psychology, cultural studies, marketing analysis and food-science journalism will gather, along with chefs, on the MU campus to discuss how a taste for food is formed by biological triggers, cultural norms and economic activity. The symposium is free and open to the public.

“How things taste to us influences what we eat and our health, but in this country recently, it also sorts us into different cultural groups that often have trouble talking to each other,” said Stefani Engelstein, director of the Life Sciences & Society Program. “We thought it would be great to bring together people who look at the science of food and the science of taste perception, but also people who study the place of food in culture.”

Brian Wansink, director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University and a best-selling author, will deliver the keynote address. Wansink has written books such as “Marketing Nutrition” and “Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think.” He will present “From Mindless Eating to Mindlessly Eating Better” at 7 p.m., Friday, March 16 at Jesse Auditorium in Jesse Hall on the MU campus. Shirley Corriher, the Mad Scientist on the Food Network’s Good Eats, and author of two James Beard-Award-winning cookbooks, will speak at 10:30 a.m., Saturday, March 17, in Conservation Hall in the Anheuser Busch Natural Resources Building.

Mizzou Advantage has been instrumental in creating opportunities to network with the most prominent scholars around the world during conferences. The Life Sciences & Society Program has worked closely with Mizzou Advantage and many other sponsors and partners in organizing the annual symposium series. Through conferences such as this, MU brings internationally renowned researchers to campus and promotes collaboration and productive exchanges with MU faculty.

Events affiliated with “Food Sense” take place throughout March. A full schedule, as well as registration information, is available at


Symposium Schedule of Events
All events are on the MU campus

Friday, March 16
Keynote Address: From Mindless Eating to Mindlessly Eating Better

Brian Wansink, Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University
7-8:15 p.m., Jesse Auditorium, Jesse Hall
The author of “Mindless Eating” and “Marketing Nutrition” discusses how to create surroundings that encourage better eating.

Saturday, March 17
The Secret Life of Food

Shirley Corriher, author of “CookWise” and “BakeWise”
10:30-11:30 a.m., Conservation Hall, Anheuser Busch Natural Resources Building
Corriher will explain how to control the cooking process with science.

Why Are The Senses Important to Digestion? Or Why Did Ivan Pavlov Win a Nobel?

Paul Breslin, Rutgers University, Monell Chemical Senses Center
11:35 a.m.-12:35 p.m., Conservation Hall, Anheuser Busch Natural Resources Building
All our senses create anticipation that aids digestion.

The Theater of Dining

Jonathan Justus, executive chef and owner of Justus Drugstore, a restaurant in Kansas City
2:15-3:15 p.m., Conservation Hall, Anheuser Busch Natural Resources Building
The dining experience is a visceral narrative.

Eating (with) Lords: The Bright Side of Eating is Its Dark Side

William Ian Miller, University of Michigan
3:20 – 4:20 p.m., Conservation Hall, Anheuser Busch Natural Resources Building
Miller will discuss the communal aspect of breaking bread.

Panel Discussion: Shirley Corriher, Paul Breslin, William Ian Miller, and  Daniel Pliska, Executive Chef, MU University Club

4:25-5:25 p.m., Conservation Hall, Anheuser Busch Natural Resources Building

Sunday, March 18
Confessions of a Self-Hating Foodie or How Classism, Food Fetishism, Political Narcissism and Neo-Agrarianism is Ruining My Dinner

Todd Kliman, author of “The Wild Vine”
9:30- 10:25 a.m., Monsanto Auditorium, Bond Life Sciences Center
Kliman will discuss the clash between food cultures in America.

The Science of Wine Sensation

Hildegarde Heymann, professor of viticulture and enology at the University of California-Davis
10:30-11:30 a.m., Monsanto Auditorium, Bond Life Sciences Center
Heyman will describe how sensory scientists analyze the flavors in wine.

Panel Discussion: Todd Kliman, Hildegarde Heymann, and Leigh Lockhart, owner Main Squeeze

11:35 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., Monsanto Auditorium, Bond Life Sciences Center