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 beverages and correlate these psychophysical attributes with quantifiable characteristics. My research program can be separated in fives major areas:

1) Understanding the food texture experience in children: With my experience in sensory science and my lived experience with children with DS, we have recently made several contributions to the area of food texture and children. We are the leading researchers studying children with Down syndrome, eating behaviors, and food product development. Understanding the nature of food texture sensitivities, including oral processing, will allow for the development of guidance to parents and practitioners to help these children and their families develop the skills to handle different textured, nutritious foods.

Group May 2016

2) Exploring the intersection between health and food: Using expertise in nutrition and food science, we have made scientific contributions in the area of functional foods and designing foods for populations with specific nutritional or sensory needs. The growing population of older adults has prompted us to evaluate the changing preferences and sensory abilities in this group as designing a nutritious, palatable and safe food is paramount for continued health. We continue to conduct research projects to develop foods with modified sensory properties designed for older adults and their specific nutritional needs. We are also studying sensory perception of older adults, and how sensitivity changes with age. In addition, we have contributed to the growing knowledge of sodium reduction in foods, developing novel methodologies to produce lower salt yet palatable food products.

3) Enhancement of food quality through studies of consumer perception: Through numerous food systems, we have explored food quality as perceived by the consumer, which contribute economic and health benefits. Within the broad area of consumer studies, we have contributed research that examines consumer attitudes toward health, the environment, and food technology, as well as food choice, and emotions toward food.


4) Application of innovative analytical and sensory techniques to increase understanding of fundamental physical and chemical properties of food and wine quality: Our research has employed novel sensory science and analytical methods to examine questions of quality. In 2012, we were among the first research groups to use an electronic tongue to analyze non-volatile compounds in foods and understand taste compounds. We have completed studies in sweeteners, wines, and pharmaceuticals with international academic and industry collaborators. We have also researched the application of data and statistical analysis methods to improve the efficiency of training sensory evaluation panelists.


5) Influence of agronomic and environmental conditions on the chemical and sensory profiles of foods and wines: Collaborations with key industries, nationally and internationally, including the wine, juice, aquaculture/fisheries, dairy, cherry, hops and apple industries, have reaped scientific and economic benefits.