Scientist pushes boundaries of food sensory research

Susan Duncan uses state-of-the art video technology to study the behavior response to food.

Susan Duncan uses state-of-the art video technology to study the behavior response to food.

“For better or for worse, people don’t realize the subconscious food consumption decisions happening before they get to the point of eating,” said Susan Duncan, professor of food science and technology. “Our research strives to understand how people emotionally interact with foods, the relationship to obesity, and the science associated with decision-making and choice.”

In the new building, Duncan has a state-of-the-art laboratory where she can measure emotions using software that translates facial expressions into emotional response.

“I’m really excited that we have this showcase spot that really accentuates the lab,” she said.

The new sensory research lab will enhance research collaborations with industry clientele and product testing, and the facility has already allowed greater interaction with faculty members from other departments. Duncan is currently working on a research project that involves examining physiological responses of participants to find out what factors into the decision-making processes deep inside the brain. Working with colleagues across campus, she will be able to measure the skin response and heart rate of study participants as well

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