New2UCDavis : From Lecture to Life

“A continuing blog series for newly admitted University of California, Davis students”


A look at campus, via

It’s the first week of Winter Quarter 2018. Congratulations on surviving your very first quarter at UC Davis!

By now you would have gotten a good idea of the hectic lifestyle of the quarter system, and how taking classes at a UC feels like. It certainly feels like a lot is thrown at you in this first quarter. The average amount of units a UC student takes is 13-14 per quarter (that equates to 3 classes), and most of the times those classes are packed with dense information. It’s easy for your mind to wander during these classes, and sometimes the question of “will this really help me” pops up.

That actually is an excellent question. Certainly, knowledge is power as we all know – however translating that knowledge into life experience can take a little work and exploration.


Let’s explore translatingĀ Lecture to LifeĀ with a professor who knows a thing or two about it.


Meet Professor Charles (Charlie) W. Bamforth, Ph.D.











Professor Bamforth is the Anheuser-Busch Endowed Professor of Malting and Brewing Science at the Department of Food Science and Technology here at UC Davis.

His more common name around the world is the Pope of Foam, for his exquisite expertise in malting and brewing. The way he describes ones experience when tasting beer is a work of art in its own right.

His biography, awards, and current research trends are all over the world-wide-web, so I won’t repeat them in this blog post. I sat down with him over the summer of 2017 to find out one thing, and one thing only – what does he think about student learning? Professor Bamforth has seen thousands of students come and go in his famous campus classes about beer making and enzymology. I spoke with a couple of his former students, and they all said the same exact thing — “every class I’ve been in at UC Davis is the standard lecture/lab format, but Professor Bamforth’s classes were different, they were extraordinary”. I wondered what prompted these students to give such a response. I myself being a Biochem/Bioengineering student never took one of these classes, and after talking with Professor Bamforth about it, I wish I could have gone back in my undergrad career to fit one in.

The three basic classes one might have encountered the Professor in would have been FST 3, FST 102A, and FST 102B. In each of these classes, students would have encountered lectures and lab components (in the case of FST 102A/B, site visits to labs or brewing companies). It sounds like the basic set-up of any disciplines lecture and lab series. To understand why excitement was particularly in Professor Bamforths classes, one has to explore how he views the learning experience – which started with his own undergraduate education.

As an undergraduate, Professor Bamforth was not terribly interested in the day to day lecturing on topics and instead grew passion towards putting things he learned into practical use. He became obsessed with brewing during and after his undergraduate career working in different places, and literally gave adjectives to his brewing work, using phrases like “dance and sing” when describing his preferences for his brewing product. Throughout his career, he cherished education and working in the industry, putting his knowledge to use while in industry, and bringing back practical applications to teach and share with colleagues and students in education. It was this marriage between practical use and education that excites him to this very day. Ever since his coming to UC Davis in the 90’s, his mission to students and industry alike was to find passion in the practical use of education.

This is what is special about Professor Bamforth and his classes. His philosophy on what students should glean from their classes is a passion rooted in using the lecture knowledge in practical use in life. The notes one writes down during lecture are not meant to stay hidden in a ringed notebook for the rest of time. He encourages and wishes for all students to use these notes in life – to achieve whatever goal a student has set up. This is why he encourages all of his FST students to take 102A/B, for he directly takes what one learns in lecture, and applies it in life in the form of labs on sites for brewing. There are only so many tests one can take to test aptitude on a subject. The Professor emphasizes that real learning occurs when one is using tools and instruments in the lab and simulating real experiences. When one feels the grains in their hands, and does the work from point A to point B – they are more in tune with what happens to all of the processes learned in a textbook.

So why can’t this happen with all of one’s classes? Professor Bamforth also recognizes that responsibility lies not only with the student but with the faculty member. Throughout his life, his passion has been beer. Every process that goes behind beer, brewing, malting, enzymology – has been a part of the cores that make up his heart. His interest in beer goes all the way from the type of grain that is used for brewing, to the frothiness of foam when the beer is poured, to the bubbles formed inside the beer when it is in a proper glass and waiting to be consumed. His passion is meant to be shared across the lecture hall, into the lab, and hopefully to the graduate students that aspire to work with him.

So what advice does Professor Bamforth have for students struggling to find passion in their subjects? Be genuine in your path. As a student, one must want to invest in the subject for it to become of any interest to them. Do not restrict your self to the classroom. The things that you write down in your notebook have a story beneath them – explore that story and make your knowledge come to life. Have the confidence to explore the subject further in practical ways. Engage with your professor, and have the confidence to ask questions, and even ask for a position in their research lab or graduate program. Have the dedication to complete your work, and have the foresight to seek out an extension of your education. Participate in labs, internships, and real-world experiences starting from now – not when you’re a junior. Experience takes time – and employers appreciate someone who is well balanced and well seasoned.

And whatever you do end up doing, remember the golden rules: NEVER drink beer from a cheap bottle, can, or box – and always pour with vigor.


Taken from


UC Davis boasts several professors and programs like Charlie Bamforth(s), which strive to bring learning into the real world. Take a look at the D-Lab, focused on testing out energy technologies, or the Student Startup Center – focused on creating student entrepreneurs, or the many partnerships and collaborations the University has undertaken. UC Davis is a global player in innovation, collaboration, and taking our research to real people all over the globe.

So take that confidence leap and join us in creating a better world – lead by you – the students at the University of California, Davis.


Enjoy Winter 2018!



*Please note that in all New2UCDavis blog posts, these informal discussions are paraphrased and never direct quotes.

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