Soup, Salad & Science

Third Thursdays from 5:30-7:30pm in the Lower Level Community Room

In cooperation with River Falls Community Education, the Library is pleased to offer a science-focused public lecture series.

  • February, 21
    Dr. Robert Brackett,
    Safety of the American Food Supply
  • March 21
    Hans Zoerb
    Science of Brewing
  • April 18
    Dr. Heidi Kassenborg
    ​Outbreak! The Epidemiology of the Flu

Registration required at River Falls Community Education, select Adult Enrichment


140 Union St, River Falls WI 54022
M-Th 9am-8pm, F 9am-6pm, Sat 10am-4pm, Sun 1-4pm

River Falls Public Library

Hans Zoerb
Lecturer, Food Science, UW-Madison

The Science (And Some History) Behind Beer

Enzyme hydrolysis, Maillard browning, and yeast fermentation all combine to produce alcohol and flavor in beer.   Hops and other flavoring agents expand the diversity of flavors.   We will explore how a simple system discovered thousands of years ago still produces a wide variety of popular beverages and how yeast from America may have played a major role.

Hans spent 33 Years in food research and development focusing on food carbohydrates and proteins with The Pillsbury Company and Cargill Foods.  He has spent the last 13 years as a lecturer in Food Science at University of Wisconsin - River Falls, Stout and Madison.


Heidi Kassenborg DVM, MPH, Dipl ACVPM
Kassenborg Consulting LLC

Epidemiology and Outbreak of Illness: Surveillance, Detection and Investigations

From the plagues of biblical times to Ebola outbreaks of today, the power of infectious diseases to shape history at the individual and societal level cannot be understated. This lecture will cover the epidemiological and public health aspects of some notable historical and present day outbreaks and how they have influenced our everyday life.

​Dr. Kassenborg is a food safety and foodborne disease outbreak response consultant.  Recent consulting projects have included the University of Minnesota’s One Health workforce capacity building grant in Central and Eastern Africa and Southeast Asia and zoonotic disease, epidemiology and food safety training in Egypt.  She received her DVM from the University of Minnesota in 1990 and entered private veterinary practice, returning to the U of MN to get her MPH in 1997.  While working as a foodborne disease epidemiologist at the Minnesota Department of Health and later as the Director of the Dairy and Food Inspection Division at the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, she was involved in investigating numerous outbreaks.  She and her husband live in Afton, MN.​

Robert E. Brackett, Ph.D.
Director, IIT Institute for Food Safety and Health
Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, IL

Safety of the American Food Supply:
Myths, Misconceptions and Realities

It is often said that the U.S. has the safest food supply in the world. But is that true? News reports in both print and broadcast media would appear to suggest that our food supply is anything but safe. Barely a day goes by where consumers are not confronted with stories about E. coli in Romaine lettuce, Listeria in frozen vegetables, or various chemicals in processed foods that are potential cancer causing agents. Is it any wonder why many consumers are confused or fearful of our food supply? The good news is that, although there are some serious food safety issues that need to be addressed, the U.S. food supply is generally safe and getting safer. This presentation will compare those food safety hazards that are real with those that are largely based on myths, conjecture, or intentional misinformation. Armed with this knowledge, attendees will be better equipped to make informed choices in the foods they consume, and how they can minimize the risk of acquiring foodborne illness or injury.

Dr. Bob Brackett is the vice president of the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) and director of the Institute for Food Safety and Health (IFSH). Prior to joining IIT, Dr. Brackett served as senior vice president and chief science and regulatory officer for the Grocery Manufacturers Association. Before that, he served as the director of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA's) Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) where he provided executive leadership to CFSAN’s development and implementation of programs and policies relative to the composition, quality, safety, and labeling of foods, food and color additives, dietary supplements, and cosmetics. Dr. Brackett has been honored with the FDA Award of Merit, the FDA Distinguished Alumni Award, the Department of Health and Human Services Secretary’s Award for Distinguished Service, and the William C. Frazier Food Microbiology Award. Bob received his doctorate in food microbiology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.