Name: Olivia Auell
Hometown: Russell, Pa.
Degree Pursuing: Food Science M.S.
Adviser: Devin Peterson
Research Title: Taste-Aroma Interactions in Flavor Perception
I study how bitter character influences overall coffee flavor perception. Taste and aroma, along with many other sensory inputs, contribute to what we know as flavor. The individual inputs have been studied separately, which can sometimes overlook the ways their combination is not just additive. This research seeks to add some knowledge of interactions in a complex system.
How did you become interested in food science?
I majored in chemistry and Spanish as an undergraduate. My first contact with food science was on a trip to Chicago with my college’s Women of Chemistry group. We visited several fascinating businesses, and when I met someone who worked as a coffee chemist, I had a new dream career!
Why did you choose the University of Minnesota?
At a conference in San Diego, where I was presenting my undergraduate research, I attended a talk on the Maillard Reaction in foods given by Devin Peterson. His research focus aligned well with my interests, so it was a natural fit.
How does your research tie into the research being done in your adviser's lab?
The Flavor Research and Education Center has a wide variety of projects. My project focuses on a fundamental aspect of flavor perception, with the idea that a better understanding of how taste and aroma interact can help us translate that knowledge into product design.
What are your future plans?
I hope to work in the coffee industry, applying what I’ve learned from chemistry and sensory research to help solve some of the challenges the industry faces. I am also really interested in scientific writing and editing.