Each year, IFST's Sensory Science Group awards a prize of £500 towards the cost of attending a food sensory conference or meeting to present research. This year, it was awarded to Martha Skinner, a PhD Candidate at University of Nottingham, who attended 12th Pangborn Sensory Science Symposium 2017 in Rhode Island, USA on 20-24th August 2017.
Martha Skinner, PhD student (University of Nottingham)
I was delighted to get the opportunity to travel to America and attend Pangborn Sensory Science Symposium in Rhode Island, the smallest state in the USA! I would like to thank the IFST Sensory Science Group for awarding me the 2017 Travel Award to contribute towards the cost of attending.
A diverse range of talks and posters were presented over the 5 days, including nine plenary’s and an astounding 397 posters. The theme of sessions ranged from ‘consumer behaviour’ and ‘breaking methods’, to more fundamental questions relating to ‘fats and carbohydrates’ and ‘texture’ perception.
The conference kicked off with an author workshop on ‘Tips for Successful Publishing’ delivered by Wendy Hurp (Elsevier, UK), which gave a clear and concise overview of the publication submission and review process. Conference highlights included the informative talk by Ciaran Forde (National University of Singapore) titled ‘From perception to ingestion; How sensory properties influence eating behaviour and energy intake’ which detailed the power of manipulating the sensory properties of food, and the speed of eating, to reduce overall calorie intake. Veronica Schopf (University of Graz, Austria) gave a fast paced and fascinating presentation discussing the association between gut microflora and the central nervous system functioning, titled ‘The gut/nose-Brain-Axis’.
My research explores individual variation in taste perception across taste phenotypes and genotypes. I was therefore delighted to see the talk by Valerie Duffy (University of Connecticut, USA) which highlighted the use of large population based data sets to test generalizability of taste-disease associations observed in clinical studies, to nationally representative data when exploring variation in oral sensitivity. Xirui (Sherrie) Zhou (University of Reading, UK) gave a superb talk detailing the effect of individual variation on fat perception and preference. Amongst many other talks and posters discussing individual variation, I was proud to see my supervisor Joanne Hort (Massey Institute of Food Science and Technology, New Zealand) deliver a fantastic plenary talk detailing project ‘TASTEMAP’, which included work that forms part of my PhD project, exploring the effect of PROP taster status on the perceptual and cortical response to taste. I was also honoured to deliver an oral presentation myself, titled ‘Measuring phantom taste and temperature related responses across thermal tasters and thermal non-tasters’ on the final day of the conference. Thermal taster status describes an unusual taste phenotype where some individuals, termed thermal tasters, perceive ‘phantom tastes’ when no chemical tastant is present, and the tongue is simply warmed or cooled. For the first time, this novel research demonstrates that cortical activation occurs in the primary gustatory cortex at the time point when thermal tasters report perceiving phantom tastes, suggesting it is a ‘real’ phenomenon.
Rocio Dorado and I founded the European Sensory Science Society (E3S) student group in 2015, which I have been group coordinator and UK student representative for since. Pangborn provided the perfect opportunity for European students to get together, network, and discuss aims for the group to achieve over the next 12 months. I was pleased that 16 students from 9 different countries attended the E3S student meeting, and we are already looking forward to our next annual student meeting at Eurosense in 2018.
As the conference came to an end, it was announced during the closing ceremony that Pangborn 2019 will take place in Edinburgh, UK. So don your best kilts, and Scotland be ready!