YU Professor Brings Science to the Neighborhood

Is there a connection between fish and low-fat ice cream? As a matter of fact, yes.  It turns out that many of us enjoy the guilt-free pleasures of certain frozen desserts because of a little-known ingredient–the ice-structuring proteins found in Antarctic and Arctic fish. On the evening of July 13, that was just one of several fun facts Dr. Ran Drori, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry at YU, shared in the first installment in “Science on the Terrace,” a series of hour-long evening lectures designed to demystify popular scientific topics for non-scientists.

Dr. Ran Drori presents his cutting-edge research to neighbors in an informal talk. (Photo credit: Craig Schneider)

Passionate about sharing knowledge beyond the classroom and the pages of academic journals, Dr. Drori has organized this informative summertime programming for the residents of his New York City co-op. The sometimes-weekly gatherings are held in his building’s outdoor common area. “Having it in the backyard, so to speak, is a great way to create a sense of community,” says Dr. Drori, whose research on antifreeze proteins in fish was published in the Nov. 24, 2020, issue of Journal of Physical Chemistry B.

For Dr. Drori, publishing cutting-edge research is an achievement, but so too is increasing a lay person’s awareness of how the latest scientific advancements can impact our daily lives. “Our job as scientists is not only to teach our students but also to transfer knowledge to the public at large.”

And so, on a recent summer evening, Dr. Drori invited more than 35 of his neighbors to enjoy a dish of ice cream while exploring the mysteries inherent to ice and discovering how the antifreeze proteins of certain fish have found commercial application in the most surprising of places: cryosurgery and Popsicles.

“Science on the Terrace” will resume on Tuesday, August 3, when Dr. Josefa Steinhauer, associate professor of biology at Yeshiva College will discuss vaccines. Lectures on the separate topics of antibiotics and Alzheimer’s disease are planned for later dates.