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Carolyn F. Ross

Carolyn F. Ross

Professor and Director of the Sensory Evaluation Facility


Phone: (509) 335-2438
Office: FSHN 122

* Currently accepting graduate student applications.

Visit the Sensory Website!

Research Interest

The overall objective of my research and graduate education program is to understand the theoretical basis underpinning the sensory perception (aural, oral, and tactile) of foods and wines and to correlate these psychophysical attributes with quantifiable characteristics. This research is focused in three major areas:

  • The influence of agronomic and environmental conditions on the chemical and sensory profiles of foods and wines
  • The application of innovative analytical and sensory techniques to increase understanding of fundamental physical and chemical properties of food and wine quality
  • The enhancement of food quality through studies of consumer perception.

A new research area of great interest to me is the study of individuals with texture sensitivities.  Texture-sensitive individuals often do not receive adequate nutrition because they are physically unable to masticate or swallow food because of associated pain. So far, our research has focused on children, particularly children with a diagnosis with Down syndrome.  My team is currently working to identify food textures that are desirable to children and develop foods that possess these texture properties.

I do like to experiment with new research methods, both sensory and analytical methods. Within sensory science, I’m particularly interested in temporal methods to measure changes of product perceptions over time – this has lead my group to work in the area of food aftertaste or finish. Within analytical methods, we have employed the electronic tongue as a detection system for non-volatile taste compounds, as well as mouthfeel properties, in various foods and beverages.  This work has been extended beyond foods and beverages into pharmaceuticals.

Other research projects have combined sensory analysis with analytical chemistry techniques to identify and describe changes in flavour and odour profiles in foods and beverages.  We are working within the area of non-thermal processing to identify quality changes that occur with processing and storage time. Work in red, white wine and sparkling wine has focused how a changing composition influences perceptions. Beyond wine, other research project have addressed environmental impacts of management decisions, including the effect of pest pressure and integrated pest management strategies on fruit quality. A new research project, in collaboration with engineers and plant breeders, is determining the effects of long-term ozone exposure on the nutritional composition, post-harvest handling, and processing techniques for lentils that could increase the bioavailability of protein in lentils, thus increasing food value.

Courses Taught

  • FS 422/522: Sensory Evaluation of Food and Wine (Spring semester)  This course provides an introduction to the theory, principles and applications of sensory evaluation techniques for the evaluation of appearance, aroma, flavor and texture of    foods and wine. Students will learn the basic psychological and physiological processes underlying sensory analysis, sensory testing methodologies and the basic principles of flavor perception and chemistry.
  • FS 423: Sensory Evaluation of Food and Wine Laboratory (Spring semester)   Practical application of FS 422 including theory, principles and application of sensory evaluation techniques for appearance, aroma, flavor and texture of foods and wine.
  • FS 461: Food Chemistry Laboratory (Fall semester). Experiments related to the properties, reactions and interactions of chemical components of foods.

For descriptions of the courses, see Courses page.


Certificate in University Teaching, University of Waterloo, 2003

Doctorate of Philosophy in Food Science, Michigan State University, 2001

Master of Science in Food Science, University of Guelph, 1997

Bachelor of Human Ecology in Foods and Nutrition, University of Manitoba, 1995

Physical Mail

Washington State University
PO Box 646376
Pullman, Washington 99164-6376