Working with the WSU Sensory Science Center

Please email Carolyn Ross if you are interested in having the WSU Sensory Science Center assist with your sensory study or instrumental analysis.  From this email, we will schedule a meeting to talk about your needs and research questions.  This meeting will be followed with an email quote for the sensory or instrumental work, along with a description of the study notes.  If this all looks okay, we schedule the panel or analysis and start talking more about the details!

For the sensory panel studies, working together with you, we design the screening questionnaire (who do you want to participate in your study?) and the sensory questionnaire/ballot.  We use Compusense for all survey design.  During this time, we work on logistics for the sample amount required and sample shipment.

And now it’s the panel day!  We take photos during the sensory panel to include in the final report.  We can also provide updates during the day regarding how the testing is proceeding.  Following the completion of the sensory panel, we send out the raw data.  Within 5 working days of the completion of the sensory panel, we will send out the completed report.

For instrumental testing, the early steps are the same.  Following an initial meeting with Carolyn Ross, a quote will be developed, along with study notes.  Once this has been approved, the work can get started!

More details about these steps are provided below.

Scheduling

WSU Sensory Science Center is open all year, with the exception of university holidays. Slower times for sensory panels are usually in January/February, and September so this generally means more availability during this time.

Regarding turnaround time, depending on how busy the WSU Sensory Science Center is (and with appropriate human subjects’ approval in place), a panel can be scheduled and executed in a minimum ~3 weeks. However, a window of at least 6 weeks is preferred.

Participants

Consumer Participants: The WSU Sensory Science Center maintains a listserv of over 2000 people in the Pullman-Moscow area. This listserv is used to recruit. Other recruitment tools include our Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn pages, WSU CAHNRS website, WSU Announcements, and Pullman Radio.

Some basic demographics of the listserv include an age range of 18-82 years old, with a mix of self-identified genders. There is some information describing purchase habits of the participants, but if the product is new, the WSU Sensory Science Center may send an initial survey out as a recruitment and interest check.

During recruitment, the panelists are sent or view an advertisement describing the product under study, time commitment, incentive, and screening criteria; this advertisement also includes a link to the Compusense sensory software. The participants will go to this link, and if they meet the screening criteria, they are invited to sign up for a slot on the panel day for their evaluations.

Trained Panelists: Trained panels are available to profile foods and beverages.  For these projects, a panel is convened, with the trained panelists (6-8) being highly experienced panelists.  The trained panelists participate in a minimum of 6 hours of training (depending on the number of attributes), with training feedback and calibration provided to ensure that panelists are aligned with the sensory attributes and intensity.  Once the training is completed, these trained panelists profile each of the test products in replicate.  All data are analyzed using appropriate statistical methods, with results presented in the final report.

Incentives

The WSU Sensory Science Center offers incentives (inconvenience fee/thank you) to all participants for their participation. For consumer panels, incentives to Ferdinand’s are generally issued. Ferdinand’s is the WSU creamery located next to the Food Science building. However, we can also provide gift cards to amazon.com, particularly if we are having panelists participate who are not in the Moscow/Pullman area. For trained panelists, gift cards at Amazon, Walmart, and Safeway generally used.

Amount of Sample Required

Sample amounts and volumes vary based on the task and product. A rule of thumb for beverages is ~30mL/participant while for food, this is ~10 g/participant. The WSU Sensory Science Center works with the client to identify the sample amount required but an overage of 10% is requested.

Screener and Ballot Review

The WSU Sensory Science Center is committed to working closely with clients to develop a screening questionnaire (to select appropriate participants) and the ballot (containing questions regarding the product under test).  Worked with the client, the screener is first developed using Compusense Sensory software; this is sent to the client as pdf document and as a link so the client can see exactly what the consumers will see. Once this has been approved, the ballot is developed. This is also sent to the client as a pdf document and as a link so the client can see exactly what the consumers will see; iterations to follow.

Reports

After the completion of either a sensory panel or instrumental analysis, a report is prepared that includes the methods used in the study, and the results of the study; for the sensory panels, a profile of the participants and photos that were taken during sensory panel was included.  This report is sent within 5 working days of the completion of the sensory work.

Pricing

Pricing varies based on the task and type of sensory panel.  A quote for the testing will be provided after the initial meeting with Carolyn Ross.

Shipping Samples

The samples should be received by WSU at least 2 weeks prior to the scheduled date of the sensory panel.

If you use FedEx:

School of Food Science
Attention: Carolyn Ross
Food Science and Human Nutrition Building,
Room 106
Washington State University
Pullman WA 99164-6376

*Please note that FedEx knows where our building is the parcel is brought directly to our building. Otherwise, the parcel goes through Central Receiving and Delivery and may take an extra day to arrive.

If you go through another shipper, this is the address:

School of Food Science
Attention: Carolyn Ross
Food Science and Human Nutrition Building
Room 106
Washington State University
100 Dairy Road
Pullman WA 99164-6376

Street Address:
School of Food Science,
Attention: Carolyn Ross
Food Science and Human Nutrition Building,
Room 106
1945 Ferdinand’s Ln
Pullman, WA 99164-6376