Name: Sophie Kim
Hometown: Edina, Minn.
Degree Pursuing: Food Science M.S.
Adviser: Zata Vickers
Research Title: Liking of food textures and relationship with biting force, chewing efficiency, saliva flow rate, and particle size discrimination
I am interested in identifying individual differences in oral physiology that may contribute to differing perceptions of textures in food. Understanding this relationship has broad implications for marketing research and product design as well as oral pathology and sensory disorders.
How did you become interested in food science?
I was taking time off from medical school in order to reevaluate my career path, and I heard about food science through a friend of mine. It seemed like a reasonable thing to do given my interest in food and background in science. I was working as a server at the time but didn't want to stay in the restaurant industry forever, so I decided to apply to the food science program. I ended up in sensory science I didn't originally intend to specialize in sensory science, but it was fitting for me as a Neuroscience major. My favorite aspect of food is its power to provide opportunities for people to connect with each other.
Why did you choose the University of Minnesota?
There was no other choice for me. After being away from home throughout college, I realized that it was important for me to be closer to my family because I have three siblings who are still in elementary school, and I wanted to invest in their lives. I wasn't 100% convinced about food science when I applied to the program, so I only applied to the U and planned on finding something else if that didn't work out, but it did!
How does your research tie into the research being done in your adviser's lab?
My adviser is a sensory scientist who has done extensive research on textures in food. While my research is clearly related to food textures, it's actually a little non-traditional because it has applications in fields that aren't directly related to food science such as dentistry and rheology. I love the interdisciplinary nature of my research topic, and sensory science is also inherently interdisciplinary because it combines food science, psychology, and neuroscience.
What are your future plans?
I don't have any specific plans yet, but I'm planning on staying in the area and finding a job in sensory science or related to it, such as a consumer insights position in the marketing research industry. Since food science is still a relatively new field for me, I'd like to explore my options in order to find the position that will be the best fit. I anticipate that the experiences I have over the next few years will open more doors to opportunities that I'm unaware of now, so it's one step at a time for me!