Name: Geoff Dubrow
Hometown: San Carlos, Calif.
Degree Pursuing: Food Science Ph.D.
Adviser: Devin Peterson
Research Title: Untargeted Approaches to Understanding Flavor
Although traditional approaches to understanding flavor are well suited to understanding specific, well defined flavor attributes, they are ill-suited to understanding the chemical factors behind complex sensations such as freshness, or hedonic liking. By fusing metabolomics with sensory science, termed “Flavoromics,” it is possible to identify the chemistry underlying these sensations in order to produce better tasting healthy food.
How did you become interested in food science?
I became interested in food science during sophomore year of my undergraduate education at UC Davis. While looking at chemistry labs to potentially work in, I accidentally clicked a link and stumbled across the page of the Agricultural and Environmental Chemistry Graduate Group. The research being done in this program, a collaboration between chemists, food scientists, and agricultural researchers, was far more exciting to me than the basic chemistry research which I had been previously exposed to. This fortuitous accident led to a two and a half year stint studying wine flavor chemistry in the lab of Dr. Susan E. Ebeler, as well as an internship in the chemistry division of the E&J Gallo winery.
Why did you choose the University of Minnesota?
When I looked into applying to graduate school, I knew I wanted to continue studying flavor chemistry. I spoke with my research advisor, told her my interests, and asked for her recommendations. After speaking with many of the professors she had recommended, I was most enthusiastic about working with Devin Peterson. The combination of his diverse research interests and the unique open innovation industry/academic partnership of the Flavor Research and Education Center offered a learning experience found nowhere else in the United States.
How does your research tie in to the research being done in your adviser's lab?
My research is part of a push in the Flavor Research and Education Center to develop and refine new methods of understanding the chemical basis behind flavor. As part of the first crop of students to work on fused metabolomics-sensory methods (Flavoromics), my research plays an important role in defining how future work using these techniques will be performed.
Upon completion of my Ph.D. I plan to post-doc in another flavor lab, ideally international, in order to continue to develop my knowledge of and research on flavor chemistry. Eventually I would like to secure a position as director of a core facility lab either in academia or at a major food/flavor company.