Soo-Yeun Lee

Professor and Director

Headshot of Dr. Soo-Yeun-Lee


B.S. in Food Engineering at the Yonsei University in Seoul Korea
Ph.D. in Food Science at University of California Davis.

Research Interests

As a Sensory Scientist, Dr. Soo-Yeun Lee’s research program has aimed to encourage lifelong healthful eating habits by developing health-targeted food product alternatives and understanding consumer behavior in the context of food selection. Dr. Lee has investigated food systems intended for enhancing consumer health such as low sodium and low sugar foods without compromising taste.  While her main mantra is ‘Taste is King,’ the main focus of her research has been on health.  As a researcher and educator, she has published more than 100 papers.  Her previous research projects have included: 1) developing novel functional food products with bioactives, 2) characterizing innate and process-derived off-flavors in functional foods and developing methods to reduce these off-flavors, 3) identifying successful sodium reduction strategies in various food matrices, 4) determining the effect of sugar reduction in food systems, 5) defining the elements of picky eating in children, and 6) relating the contextual effect of consumer testing in real situations versus virtual reality situations using immersive technology. 

Mission Statement

As the new director of the School of Food Science (SFS) at Washington State University (WSU), Dr. Lee aims to bring everyone together with the goal of growing the SFS and making it the best food science program globally.


Dr. Lee graduated from Yonsei University in Seoul, Korea in 1994 with a B.S. in Food Engineering. In 2001, she earned her Ph.D. in Food Science at the University of California, Davis. After completing her Ph.D., she became a faculty member at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). She was promoted to associate professor with indefinite tenure in 2008 and was elevated to full professor status in 2015. She taught sensory science courses in the Food Science and Human Nutrition department at Illinois. Dr. Lee also served as an Assistant Dean in the Office of Academic Programs in the College of Agricultural Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) at the University of Illinois from 2014 to 2017.

In 2023, Dr. Lee moved to Pullman, Washington, to become the Director of the SFS at WSU.  Her ample experience will allow her to lead the Food Science program at WSU to new heights.

Selected Chapters in Books

  • Lee Y, Lee S-Y., Donovan J. (2014) Stability Characterization and Sensory Testing in Food Products Containing Microencapsulants. In: Microencapsulation in the Food Industry-A Practical Implementation Guide. Gaonkar A, Vasisht N, Khare A, Sobel R (Editors), Academic Press, Elsevier. Chapter 28: 367-381.
  • Lee S-Y, Allgeyer LC, Neely EA Kreger, J (2012) Sensory Analysis of Fruit and Fermented Fruit Flavors. In: Handbook of Plant-Based Fermented Food and Beverage Technology. 2nd Edition. Hui Y H, Chen F, Nollet MLM (Editors), Wiley publications. Chapter 9: 165-178.
  • Lee S-Y, Neely EA, Lee Y (2010) Sensory Evaluation Techniques to Promote Extruded Soy Foods Consumption and Increase Consumer Acceptance. In: Chemistry, Texture and Flavor of Soy. (Editors) Cadwallader KR, Chang SKC ACS symposium series. Chapter 20: 323-338.
  • Lee Y, Lee S-Y, Schmidt SJ (2006) Probing the Sensory Properties of Food Materials with Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy and Imaging. In: Handbook of Modern Magnetic Resonance, Editor(s): Webb G, Kluwer Academic Publishers, London, pp 1867-1872.

Selected Articles in Journals

Teaching Honors

  • William V. Cruess Award, Institute of Food Technologists (2017)
  • North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture, Teaching Scholar Award (2015)
  • Funk award for Excellence in Teaching-Senior, College of Agricultural Consumer Environmental Sciences, University of Illinois (2015)
  • Regional award in Excellence in Teaching, USDA (2013)
  • Campus award in excellence in undergraduate teaching, University of Illinois (2012)
  • North America College Teachers Association, Teacher Fellow Award (2010)
  • Funk award for Excellence in Teaching, College of Agricultural Consumer Environmental Sciences, University of Illinois (2009)

Research Honors

  • Samuel Cate Prescott Award, Institute of Food Technologists (2011)

Other Honors

  • Outstanding Advisor/Mentor Award, Food Science and Human Nutrition, University of Illinois (2007)
  • Paul A. Funk Award, College of Agricultural Consumer Environmental Sciences, University of Illinois (2018)

Academic Positions

  • Director, School of Food Science, Washington State University, 2023-Present
  • Assistant Dean, Curriculum and Honors Programs, Office of Academic Programs, College of ACES, U of Illinois, 2014-2017
  • Professor, Food Science and Human Nutrition, U of Illinois, 2015-2022
  • Associate Professor, Food Science and Human Nutrition, U of Illinois, 2008-2015
  • Assistant Professor, Food Science and Human Nutrition, U of Illinois, 2001-2008

Other Professional Positions

  • IFT Board of Directors (2017-2020)
  • Journal of Food Science, Associate Editor (2013-2023)
  • Journal of Sensory Studies Editorial Board (2007-2010)
  • IFT Sensory Consumer Sciences Division (SCSD) Chair (2012-2013)
  • IFT SCSD Treasurer (2008-2011)
  • IFT Food Chemistry Division (FCD) member-at-large (2010-2011)