Inside Mizzou: Art of Science

Listen on Apple Podcasts Get it on Google Play Listen to Inside Mizzou on RadioPublic Spotify

Illustration of the connection between science and artJanuary 28, 2020

Every day across campus, Tigers combine their creativity with groundbreaking research to push the boundaries of education and scholarship. At Mizzou, an ice cream parlor can also be a cutting-edge laboratory, and a floral shop can be a thriving classroom as well as a successful business. This capacity to bridge disciplines and forge new innovations inside and outside the classroom is what makes our community — and their successes — Mizzou Made.

Join me for this week’s Inside Mizzou podcast where I talk with two students in our College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources: Emily Koch is a junior majoring in agricultural education who works at Tiger Garden, a floral shop run by our Division of Plant Sciences; and Grace Frisella is a junior majoring in food science and nutrition who works at Buck’s Ice Cream, an ice cream parlor run by our Food Science Program. We discuss the ways art, science, entrepreneurship and learning come together at Mizzou to give our students the tools they need to excel.

More about Inside Mizzou


Moderator: [00:00:11] From the classroom to the cornfield, journalism to SEC athletics, the University of Missouri works 52 weeks a year, every year. This is Inside Mizzou — real stories, real discoveries and real impact of the Mizzou community. Today’s episode is called, “The Art of Science.” Ice cream researcher, and floral designer. These might not be your typical college jobs, but for most of the academic year, students from MU’s College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources are serving up the perfect scoop at Buck’s Ice Cream in Eckles Hall and crafting show-stopping arrangements a Tiger Garden, a full-service florist located in our Agriculture Building. Breaking down the boundaries between the arts, science and other disciplines to create a more colorful — and delicious — world is what Tigers do. Here, an ice cream parlor and a floral shop aren’t just creative spaces, they’re also cutting edge laboratories. Joining Chancellor Cartwright to talk more about “The Art of Science” are: Emily Koch, a junior majoring in agricultural education who works at Tiger Garden, and Grace Frisella, a junior food science major who works at Buck’s Ice Cream. Thank you all for being here.

Everyone: [00:01:23] Thank you.

Moderator: [00:01:24] So, question for you, Grace. Buck’s Ice Cream is a Mizzou tradition going back over 30 years. What’s it like making classic flavors like Tiger Stripe and creating new flavors like Tiger Pawpaw that debuted at Homecoming?

Grace Frisella: [00:01:37] Sure. So I really think it’s a unique opportunity to take part in something that is such a huge part of Mizzou tradition, especially with big things like Tiger Walk, getting to create ice cream for the entire new freshman class and distribute it and see how excited everyone is when they get to try Tiger Stripe for the first time, or maybe the first time, maybe not. But, you know, getting to see them enjoy that, but also being able to have that creative liberty to make those new flavors like Tiger Pawpaw. And, you know, I didn’t know what pawpaw was the first time that they brought it up and I was like, “Oh, tell me more!” Like, that’s so cool. And so I got to actually see the whole process all the way through of ordering the flavor and picking the right one that fit what we wanted and getting to create the ice cream itself and actually ship it off to Chancellor Cartwright. So that was a really cool experience.

Moderator: [00:02:35] And so you’re a food science major, but there’s also an art to making ice cream from scratch. What’s it like blending these two worlds, art and science, in a hands-on way? And how does the learning environment at Mizzou make that possible?

Grace Frisella: [00:02:47] Sure. So, food science is a really cool science-based major because it has an application, and I think I’ve always known that I really like science. And getting to blend that with food is a really great thing for me and I love it. But Mizzou has made so many things possible in that respect, and being able to have those hands-on experiences — like working in Buck’s and that Mizzou Meat Market — you know, they provide all of these opportunities because we have many different tracks within our major. We’ve got dairy and meat and wine. So being able to have those experiences hands-on is really great because you’re able to take what you learn in the classroom — in our classes that are talking about, you know, the processing behind everything and the science behind the food that you’re actually making — and you are able to do those things that you talk about in the classroom hands-on, and see it firsthand. And it’s really helpful for me because I’m a very visual learner. And so actually getting to, you know, see it before my eyes and work with it is really beneficial to my learning experience, and I know is going to help me later on when I’m looking for jobs and I have that experience underneath my belt.

Moderator: [00:04:00] Ok, great. And so Emily, like Grace’s work at Buck’s Ice Cream, your job at Tiger Garden requires comprehensive knowledge that you apply in the field. Can you tell us a little bit about how you approach your job as a florist? What are some things you have to consider when designing an arrangement?

Emily Koch: [00:04:16] So, my job as a florist changes every day. I can honestly say that there is not one day that has been the same as another. And it really does. There is a lot of comprehensive knowledge that you have to bring in. So I’m really thankful that Mizzou offers floral design classes — five of them, in fact. And you can take those, and then if you get a job at Tiger Garden, kind of use that knowledge in the front of the shop. And so I think a lot of the things that I think about when creating an arrangement is really the customer’s perspective. So your birthday arrangements are going to be quite a lot different than your sympathy arrangements, and just kind of knowing the elements and principles that change with each one of those designs. And so, I think that that’s a large part of just kind of the everyday shop life, is not only just understanding what goes into an arrangement when a customer comes in, kind of understanding their body language and what you think that they’re looking for. And whenever they start to look at things in the cooler, kind of start to point out things that are similar and stuff. So, a lot of my job in Tiger Garden is meeting customer needs.

Moderator: [00:05:15] Okay. And so with that, in what ways do you feel Tiger Garden showcases the artistry that’s inherent to agriculture?

Emily Koch: [00:05:24] I think Tiger Garden really provides a unique perspective of that agriculture is much more diverse than we normally think. So, I am from the south central part of the state of Missouri, and when I came to Mizzou, my knowledge of agriculture was cows and corn. That is all that I thought of. And I mean, seriously! I mean, that’s really all I saw. And so whenever I came to Mizzou, and they were like, “Oh, hey, you know, consider this floral design course.” I was like, “What? Floral design? That’s a part of my degree? You’ve got to be kidding me.” And so I take this course and then end up applying for the job, and really just I’ve been able to expand my knowledge on things that I think my kids in my future classroom are going to think about agriculture. I mean, I am probably going to have students that want to go into the floral design industry, and without this unique perspective that Tiger Garden has given me, that might not have been something I even thought about. And it’s, I mean, not only for myself, but for other students within Tiger Garden it’s really opened the doors to other things. We have a lot of students involved in national Future Farmers of America (FFA) and in Agriculture Future of America that really give you another diverse grasp on agriculture that’s not just your typical crops and animal production.

Moderator: [00:06:30] Okay, awesome. Yeah, I definitely didn’t know how widespread agriculture was either.

Emily Koch: [00:06:33] There’s a lot!

Moderator: [00:06:33] You learn something new everyday. And so, Chancellor Cartwright, you’ve talked before about the ways that Mizzou’s multidisciplinary environment makes our education and scholarship special. But could you talk a little bit more about why it’s important for students in non-arts fields to have exposure to the arts and creative opportunities, and vice versa.

Chancellor Cartwright: [00:06:52] Yeah, sure. You know, you’re hearing two great examples of it today by Grace and Emily. I talk about the fact that there’s so much beauty at the boundaries, and that I’m really interested in having those intersections between arts and science. And that’s what you’re seeing here. You’re seeing, literally, you’re seeing people who actually have to use some artistic ability and design new floral arrangements. And if you haven’t seen the amazing arrangements that they have at Tiger Garden, you need to go there. You need to see it. They are pieces of art. And clearly they’re relying on not just their knowledge of what the plants are, what the flowers are, but also bringing to that the sense of creativity, right. Which we learn so much from the arts and humanities. And so, the more we can bring that in, the better. The same thing, of course, with Buck’s Ice Cream, right. Is that here’s an opportunity. We have to take some chances. Who would have ever thought of using the pawpaw fruit to make an ice cream? But we did it, and then we even came up with a clever little name for it. Right? Tiger pawpaw. And that again is this creativity being infused and what we’re trying to do with an understanding. And actually Emily mentioned this, and I think Grace also said somemthing about it: The understanding of the customer. Right? So how do you think about what the customer is looking for? The more we can have our students understand that it’s not just what you’re learning in the classroom, it’s how you infuse other knowledge that you have, but thinking, too, about what is it the customer is potentially looking for.

Moderator: [00:08:38] And so, you kind of just spoke to it, but how integral is creativity to the success of this university?

Chancellor Cartwright: [00:08:44] Yeah. You know, I’m a big believer that the future, that the distinguishing things for anybody in an industry is to be able to be more creative. And we can teach a lot of science. We can teach a lot of details. But if you’re not able to think outside the box, then you just, you’ll just continue to do what has been done. And that’s not where innovation comes in. Innovation comes in when you’re willing to say, “Maybe we’ll put these two things together that have never been put together before. Maybe we’ll try a different a different type of device, right. What is it that makes a particular arrangement of flowers appealing? What types of new things could we add in there? And how do we then make that something that people are interested in having and that brings joy.” One thing that we can’t show on the podcast, of course, is I can see when Emily and Grace are talking the amount of joy they have just from being involved in this process. That’s what this is about, right. And we don’t — our joy in life is not necessarily connected to the technologies that we have. The technologies enable us to interact, enable us to enjoy the arts, the, you know, all of the things that we’re interested in, humanities. Those are where the joy comes from. And anything we can do where we bring science and then bring joy to people, that’s what I want to see more of with the creative work that we’re doing at Mizzou.

Moderator: [00:10:21] Awesome. And so, a question for everyone: What are the advantages of having hands-on opportunities that draw on different disciplines? What edge does that collaboration gives students who leave this university?

Grace Frisella: [00:10:33] So, I kind of touched on it before, but just having that hands-on experience is something that really sets you apart. I think that CAFNR does a great job of it, and the university as a whole with their whole philosophy around the Missouri Method and and how that’s implemented here. I think that that really does set our students apart. And being able to have an opportunity to participate in something that is like that and gives me that hands-on experience really does give me an edge when I go and will go into the workforce. And, you know, being able to interview with someone and say, “Oh, yeah, I actually did that in my job in college, and we actually learned about that and and got to do that.” I think that is something that really will make an impact later on in my career.

Emily Koch: [00:11:21] Yeah, and I think a building off of that hands-on experiences was really one of the reasons that I chose Mizzou as the school to go to, and it’s a lot — I’ve really just, exactly what you said, it’s one thing to kind of learn about it in a book and learn about it in lecture, but really being able to kind of do it hands-on and see, “Okay, well, that’s why my professor talked about the struggles that we were gonna have with this area.” And really getting to see it firsthand and sometimes having those struggles and having to overcome them, that really happens a lot in Tiger Garden. There are a lot of times where we have to completely take arrangements apart because we started out our Greenery grid, our base wrong. And I think that that’s something, an experience that you wouldn’t have had you not been able to do it hands-on and had you just learned about it from them talking. It’s one thing for me to say that a Greenery grid is important, but it’s one thing for you to do it. And then for not to do it effectively and then have to completely start over at the end of your arrangement. So, I think having those opportunities within CAFRN is just a large skill that the students that utilize them are going to be able to take into the workforce.

Chancellor Cartwright: [00:12:19] Yeah. I mean, I think both of those are — from Emily and Grace — that those are great points. You know, we have even additional opportunities that our students have here. We have a source, an estate where they actually do event planning, and they learn, again, by doing. And I certainly — I was someone who really learned by doing. I had to actually do it myself for it to remain with me for any length of time, and so I’m truly a big believer in that opportunity to learn by doing. And we see it here with KBIA, we see it here with the Missourian, we see it with KOMU. We see it certainly where it started in journalism. But then that’s been infused into lots of places. You heard all the things that they’re doing in CAFRN that, again, give people that hands-on with animals, with plants, with all of the things that they’re doing. But we’re doing more of that even with entrepreneurship and innovation, right. How do we allow students the opportunity to think about how would you start a company? What would that be? Entrepreneur Quest thinking about what that company looks like, how do you do a sales pitch. These are skills that are beyond just the subject that you’re learning, but you’re embracing other things that you need to know about, right. If you’re a science major, you’re learning something about business. You’re learning something about sales. You’re learning about marketing. All of these need to come together for you to really be able to do — to innovate and create a company at least. So, I think it’s just one of the ways that naturally we learn. And so, the more we can do with our hands, the better off all of us are.

Moderator: [00:14:04] So, I have a quick question. For people like me, what’s a Greenery grid?

Everyone: [00:14:09] (Laughing)

Emily Koch: [00:14:09] Sorry. A Greenery grid — so, like, when you think of a floral arrangement and it has these really tall flowers and it’s in kind of this base that’s really small, you have to take pieces of greenery and kind of weave them together so that their stems interlock. And then it creates this like base structure to put all your flowers through so that they stand up straight and create that shape that you’re looking for, that’s appealing to the customer. Yeah. So, you have to, I mean, that is the very first thing that you do, and it relates to everything that you do beyond that point. And so, that’s kind of like one of those things that you really don’t understand without doing it.

Chancellor Cartwright: [00:14:39] Steven, you we learn something every time.

Moderator: [00:14:40] Yeah, everyday.

Everyone: [00:14:40] (Laughing)

Moderator: [00:14:40] Something new everyday. Well, thank you all for being with us today. And now there’s just one more thing to do before we leave. Why did the scarecrow win an award?

Chancellor Cartwright: [00:14:51] Oh, I maybe — should I try.

Moderator: [00:14:57] Try.

Chancellor Cartwright: [00:14:57] Because it was outstanding in the field.

Moderator: [00:14:59] I feel like you cheated. But yes!

Everyone: [00:15:00] (Laughing)

Moderator: [00:15:00] Yes, that is it. I don’t know how you got that exactly. But yes, he was out standing in the field.

Everyone: [00:15:09] (Laughing)

Moderator: [00:15:09] Our audio engineer is Aaron Hay. Our feature music is composed by MU master’s student Niko D. Schroeder and performed by the Donald Sinta Quartet. You can find more information about Niko, the Quartet and their piece on the Inside Mizzou webpage. Make sure to join us next time to stay on top of what’s happening at Mizzou. Thanks for joining us on this episode. See you around the Columns!