Ever wonder what the difference is between baking soda and baking powder?
Or how about the difference between shelf-stable and refrigerated juice? Have you ever questioned why foods and beverages come in different colored bottles?
In 60 seconds or less, food scientist Brittany Towers Lewis takes complex scientific information and boils it down into understandable terms. She then posts the resulting videos on TikTok and Instagram, where 63,300 followers now learn about science from her, The Black Food Scientist.
A graduate of CFAES, Towers Lewis started posting food science videos in 2021 to get science information out to the public in quick, relatable ways to lessen the mystery of science and to make learning about it fun.
"Science is often perceived of as a bunch of words that most people can’t understand, but using common language makes it more approachable,” she said. “Plus, food is a great way to get the word out about science because food is relatable to everyone.”
Another goal of her TikTok and Instagram videos is to promote the idea of careers in food science to younger people, including those in minority groups generally underrepresented in science-related careers. Food science as a career isn’t well known to many people,”
Towers Lewis said. “I love working with middle school and high school students and seeing their eyes spark when they realize you can be in the science field and work with food at the same time.” Towers Lewis didn’t even know about food science as a career until she attended Ohio State. In fact, it was CFAES food science classes that made her realize that “food science was the career for me.” She now works as a senior manager of product development for Vital Proteins, a Chicago-based health and wellness company.
“In the first CFAES class that I took, we made ice cream—and then got to eat it,” she said with a laugh. “Being able to translate science concepts into something that you can see, feel, and eat helps to understand the science better. You can see the scientific reaction happening while a loaf of bread is baking.”
It’s that excitement that Towers Lewis strives to recreate in each video she posts. And it seems to be working because she went viral on her fourth post.
“I was surprised because I didn’t think so many people would be interested,” she said. “One of my mom’s friends is a teacher and shows the videos to her students, which I really love. Many people message me saying they wish they’d known that food science was a thing, and others send me messages simply thanking me for providing science in a digestible way.”