Of Rice and Beans: Why we eat what we eat.
Dr. Sunil Malapati
Wednesday, March 12, 2014
5:30 PM Reception and Refreshments, 6:00 PM Presentation
College of Southern Nevada
D Building Room 101
6375 West Charleston Blvd.
Las Vegas, Nevada 89146-1164
Visitors are Welcome
Nutritional choices are dictated by a host of environmental and socioeconomic factors and have a profound impact both on how we have evolved as a species and where we go from here. Successful civilizations all have certain factors in common in how their cuisines evolved, with choices often seeming counter-intuitive. For example, Hawaiians expend a great deal of effort to cultivate taro and make it edible even as they are surrounded by tropical bounty. Fava beans continue to be a Mediterranean staple in spite of the high incidence of fava allergies in those populations. Using personal stories of growing up in Southern India, studying in Mumbai and emigrating to US, the talk will explore cuisine development in multiple cultures from a nutritional point of view.
Dr. Sunil Malapati, associate professor of biochemistry at Clarke, developed a fascination with food early on and cultivated an expertise during the past decade. In addition to conducting multiple cooking shows in Dubuque as a chef trained in South Indian cuisine, Sunil developed and continues to teach a course in food chemistry as a way to introduce science to non-science students. He conducts an annual NSF (National Science Foundation) sponsored week-long workshop on food chemistry for faculty from across the nation, and has done presentations and mini-workshops at national conferences. He is currently working with the chefs at Clarke to develop summer food science camps for middle and high school students. His current research interests include the science behind the development of cuisine, especially the influence of history and geography and the incorporation of new foods.
Dr. Malapati has amassed a diverse and eclectic educational background with a Masters in Chemical Engineering from Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai (after dropping out of Medical School!) and a doctorate in Biology from Northwestern University, Evanston, IL. His thesis work was on signaling in the immune system. He currently teaches biochemistry, food chemistry and chemistry for health sciences. His educational pedagogy focus is on technology-enabled discovery-based learning in the classroom.