July 10, 2017, by jicke

Students add flavour to annual food science event

Food scientists from the School of Biosciences at the University of Nottingham recently flew out to Belfast to attend the Nursten Postgraduate Flavour PhD Symposium, and for some it provided a rare opportunity to present their research work to a leading network of developing scientists from across the UK.

This meeting is a collaboration between all UK research active universities with an interest in Flavour Science and Sensory Science. Whilst it has been running for a number of decades, it was renamed recently in memory of eminent flavour chemist Professor Harry Nursten who strongly supported the development of PhD students and early career researchers.

Presenting research

The symposium is an opportunity for students who work within flavour and sensory science to present and share their work. This year it was hosted by AFBI-Belfast and presentations were given by delegates from the Universities of Nottingham, Reading, Northumbria, the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute in Belfast, UC Dublin and UC Cork.

Food scientists from Nottingham presented research including:

  • Marit Nijman plunged the audience into virtual bar in order to explain the effect of context on the emotional response to sensory characteristics demonstrating the importance of taking context into account in future consumer studies.
  • Imogen Ramsey explained the influence of ethanol on the temporal perception of beers, with the objective of increasing acceptance of low alcohol beer.
  • Martha Skinner presented a novel study on phantom tastes (experienced when the tongue is thermally stimulated). Her recent results indicate that this ‘taste’ elicits brain activation in the primary gustatory cortex.

All three of these PhD students received a prize from the Royal Society of Chemistry, IFST Sensory Science Group and SCI.

Dr Charfedinne Ayed, postdoc researcher at the School of Biosciences, said: “The event was a wonderful opportunity for our students to share their work with peers from across the UK and gain valuable feedback. All the student presentations were of an exceptionally high standard and it was a great opportunity to hear about the exciting work that is happening in our field. We heard from a variety of scientific disciplines, with influences from animal and plant breeding, sensory science, flavour analysis and about a vast range of different food substances, with talks on beer, lamb meat, biscuits and brain activity and much more! I was delighted to see that three of our students were awarded a prize for their presentation, particularly as they were all of such a high standard.”

Industry insight

Students also heard from industry speakers from Pepsi-Co who shared insights into the company and career progression and also Dr Daves Baines (Baines Food Consultancy Ltd.) who talked about the health benefits of the Indian Curry and finally TREATT introduced commercial flavour extraction techniques, the composition and the sensorial properties of orange oil extracts.

The event came to a close with a tour and a dinner at the Hilden Brewery (Lisburn) and a talk from brewery owner Seamus Scullion who shared his passion for authentic hand crafted beer and introduced the heritage of the brand.

Dr Ian Fisk, Professor at the School of Biosciences, said: “This event provides a valuable opportunity for our students to present their research and network with other leading emerging scientists. They also heard from industry figures about some of the realities of working in the food industry. The students really did themselves and the university proud with their presentations and we look forward to hosting the event next year.”

The next event will be held at the University of Nottingham.

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