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Published: 2023-10-19

Focus on Sustainable Food Choices in Doctoral Course on Sensory Methods

On 10–12 May 2023, Hilde Weiser, Doctoral student at the Department of Food, Nutrition and Culinary Science, participated in a three-day Doctoral course in sensory and food preferences at the University of Copenhagen. The trip and the course were made possible with the help of strategic funding from the Arctic Centre at Umeå university.

Hilde Weiser is a Doctoral student at the Department of Food, Nutrition and Culinary Science and the Arctic Graduate School with a Focus on Sustainable Development, as well as an associated researcher with the Arctic Centre. She applied for funds to participate in a doctoral course at the University of Copenhagen.

Tell us more about the course

Weiser says that the doctoral course was called “Sensory Evaluation and Food Preferences” and was given over three days at the University of Copenhagen. The three days were filled with interesting lectures, group assignments and meetings with other Doctoral students as well as prominent researchers, as well as a final written submission in sensory science, i.e. the the science of sensory experiences.

– I participated as the only Doctoral student from Umeå University, but met and made contacts with other Doctoral students from several different countries and universities. I heard about many exciting PhD projects; everything from edible gel for elderly with swallowing difficulties to new algae-based foods, and research on pork without an off flavour. Together we listened to lectures on various interesting topics in sensory science, such as how a meal situation can affect what we think of food, and discussed questions about, for example, how changed consumption habits can reduce food's environmental impact.

It was really fun and incredibly educational to meet so many outstanding researchers in sensory science

What did you think of the course?

Weiser explains that the course is usually given every two years, but that it has been on hiatus due to the pandemic. That is why she was extra happy when she discovered that she would have the opportunity to take the course this spring.

– It was really fun and incredibly educational to meet so many outstanding researchers in sensory science, to have the opportunity to listen to lectures and ask questions during the group work. In a group activity we had to use our senses to find descriptive words for different products made from chickpeas, which was great fun as we got to test some of the theoretical knowledge in practice. We also had a lot of time to network with the lecturers and all course participants, including through joint dinners at two different restaurants. It's always extra fun to eat dinner and talk together with other people who are interested in taste, smell, sound, color and other things that affect the meal experience!

What significance did the course have for you as a researcher?

– Being able to participate in the course has been incredibly important for me to be able to gain the basic knowledge in sensory science that I need to be able to continue developing and carry out my doctoral project, explains Weiser. She continues and describes that it was enriching to meet and talk to the teaching researchers during the course days in Copenhagen.

What significance did the course have for the Arctic?

When asked about the importance of the course for the Arctic, Weiser explains that her doctoral project, which is part of the Arctic Graduate School, is about how sustainable eating can be promoted among young people in the Swedish Arctic. Sensory is pervasive in the project and one of the sub-studies will use sensory methods to evaluate foods that are in our immediate area.

- What I learned during the course is of great importance for me to be able to continue designing and implementing my doctoral project, the purpose of which can hopefully contribute to sustainable eating in the Swedish Arctic.

Hilde Weiser
Doctoral student

About the course Sensory Evaluation and Food Preferences

The course is primarily aimed for Doctoral students who use or will use sensory research in their doctoral projects, and it provides basic knowledge of theoretical and practical aspects of sensory science. This year's course also focused on measurements of what controls our food choices in different situations, specifically with regard to how different situations and contexts can affect the choices of healthy and/or sustainable food.
Read more about the course