Created by Franklyn Hall, a Ph.D. candidate in biomedical engineering, the virtual course teaches students the intricate science behind the production of plant and cultivation-based meat, dairy, eggs and seafood.
The class was first taught as part of John Hopkin’s Intersession Program in 2021. The most recent course wrapped last month and focused on using bioengineering methods, including genetic engineering and tissue engineering, to produce cultivated protein and fats.
“More specifically, some of the topics we explored included biophysical considerations in creating plant-based foods, bioprocess design and metabolic/strain engineering of microbes for proteins through fermentation, and stem cell differentiation and scaffolding technology for producing cell-based meats,” Hall told the HUB.
Learning new technologies
Also led by Ph.D. candidates Lauren Blake and Molly Gordon, most class time is spent discussing the advanced technologies used in today’s alternative protein industry – covering both cutting-edge innovations and those adapted from previous medical and scientific research.
As part of the curriculum, students are exposed to the significant environmental impacts of industrial agriculture, while gaining valuable insight into the economics of animal-free protein and its top innovation opportunities.
Food of the Future has also featured industry guest speakers such as Arjun Iyer of The Good Food Institute, James Dolgin of Dipole Materials, and Noah Yan, a Johns Hopkins alum who now serves as project manager for New Age Meats.
The most recent course concluded with a pitch event inviting students to propose new alternative protein products or research ideas. Presentations included using an AC electric field to align plant-based protein fibers into a more meaty texture, and having microorganisms produce Omega-3 fatty acids for alternative seafood.
Looking ahead, Hall hopes to broaden the scope and interactive nature of the John Hopkins course.
“In the future, this course aims to add a lab component that will allow students to observe the science in action and provide alternative ways to make food at their own homes,” Hall said.