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New Fermentation Program at Eastern Michigan

Eastern Michigan University is joining a growing population of colleges to offer programs catered to foodies. Beginning in fall of 2016, EMU is adding a Fermentation Science Major that focuses on fermented products across the board, including beer, cheese, and pickles. If “Michigan” and “beer school” sound familiar, you might be thinking of Western Michigan University’s Sustainable Brewing Program. But the program at Eastern Michigan isn’t a copycat—it covers way more than beer!

EMU chemistry professors Cory Emal and Gregg Wilmes designed the program to be an all-encompassing flood of fermentation. The program is heavy on science requirements, from molecular biology and genetics to biochemistry, and the pair have recently added a focus on fermentation in non-food products (like pharmaceuticals). The stated goal of the program is “to provide an integrated and practical educational experience for students interested in the science behind fermentation, including the production of fermented beverages, foods, and industrial products.”

But students won’t be limited to dry, technical coursework. There is also a hospitality track for those who want to work with food. And we would guess that one class in particular will be extremely popular: Sensory Analysis of Fermented Products. Students for that class must be over 21 years old, so we can imagine there will be some enjoyable lab work.

It’s great to see forward-looking colleges and universities recognize the popularity of artisanal foods and their growing importance to the nation’s culture and economy. Their vision propels majors like this into the mainstream and helps build the infrastructure of skills needed to continue the growth of food in creative ways. And luckily for us, Eastern Michigan joins the ranks as one of now several schools offering programs dedicated to the study of food.

Molly Borgeson

Molly Borgeson is from Boston, loves cheese, and has a pet rabbit named Barnabas.