AJ Banks Travel Bursary recipient, Imogen Ramsey, reports from Italy

09 October 2018

Imogen Ramsey was awarded an AJ Banks Travel Bursary to attend Eurosense 2018, in Verona, Italy. Here, she tells us about presenting her research to her biggest audience yet, how she was able to enhance her understanding of the research conducted in the sensory and consumer science field and the networking opportunities the conference provided.

The eighth European Conference on Sensory and Consumer Research (Eurosense) was held in sunny Verona in Italy this year. Over 750 people from across Europe and further afield attended, and I was lucky enough to be selected to present my research on ‘Using a combined temporal approach with consumers to evaluate the influence of ethanol on drivers of liking for beer’.

My PhD project is focussed on developing an understanding and improved sensory quality of low alcohol beer, sponsored by BBSRC and Campden BRI. This topic has received a lot of interest during my time working as a PhD student, with a notable increase in the development of low alcohol beers by large breweries such as Carlsberg, Budweiser and Heineken, as well as the rise of smaller craft breweries that are solely focusing on no and low alcohol beer alternatives.

The work I presented was looking at using beer consumers to understand the drivers of liking in beers with different alcohol concentrations. This research found that surprisingly there was no difference in the liking of beers with different alcohol concentrations (0, 0.5, 2.8 and 5%). However, it was found that there were three different groups of consumers that liked different things. The largest group (made up of 50% of the participants) again were found to like everything the same - and rather a lot! The two other groups were found to be made up of ‘alcohol likers’, who only liked the 5% beer, and ‘alcohol dislikers’ who really disliked the 5% beer. Additionally, the attributes perceived by the consumers were quantified using a Temporal Check-all-that-apply approach which, combined with temporal liking, showed the attributes that each group liked and disliked during consumption. This is useful for breweries as they can focus on developing a low alcohol beer for one of the groups of consumers, specifically targeting the attributes they like. It was great to have the opportunity to present this work at the conference and get feedback from experts in the field.

Attending the four day conference greatly enhanced my understanding of the current and previous research being conducted in the sensory and consumer science area. There were many different topics covered throughout the conference which were split into sessions including: Sensory for Health, Understanding Consumers, Eating Out and Context Studies, Individual Differences, Emotions in Sensory and Consumer Studies, Statistics for Sensory, Sensory for Sustainability, Instrumental Measuring for Sensory, Mind Science for Sensory and Advancements in Sensory Methods. The University of Nottingham Sensory Science team had 5 oral presentations in total, as well as 3 posters, and so it was great to see my colleagues presenting their work to a larger audience too.  There were also workshops to attend, as well as flash poster presentations and poster sessions (with over 350 posters to view!) I was able to attend numerous talks from scientists that I have looked up to in the field and have read and referenced many of their papers during my PhD. It also meant that I could consider different methods for my next experiment, which will look at combining sensory data with instrumental methods.  Some of my highlights were listening to a talk by Margaret Thibodeau from Brock University in the Individual Differences session. She discussed the use of a similar sensory method used within my studies with beer to investigate the differences between participants rather than products, which looked at PROP, sweet liking and thermal taster status. It was also interesting to hear from Arnaud Thomas from SensoStat, as well as Mari Ovrum Gaarder from Nofima AS in the Advancements in Sensory Methods session, as they both looked at using different sensory methods to understand consumer liking. 

In addition to this, the conference gave the opportunity for the European Sensory Science Society (E3S) student group to meet under their new name, the E3S Student and Early Career Researcher Group. This group was set up in 2015 to bring sensory science students from across Europe together to network and have a voice in the wider sensory science community. I have been part of the group for over a year and recently became the Recruitment and Member Manager for the committee. The group organised to have a stand at the conference to recruit more members and get the new name out there. It was also a great opportunity for us all to meet in person and discuss the development of the group.

I would like to thank SCI for making my visit to Italy possible, after being awarded the AJ Banks Travel Bursary to fund the trip. Not only did it give me a chance to present my PhD work at one of the more prestigious sensory conferences, but also to the largest audience! In addition, it also helped me network with many sensory experts, as well as be able to visit the beautiful city of Verona! I’m looking forward to attending the next Eurosense as a final year PhD student, which will be held in Rotterdam in 2020.

Imogen Ramsey
PhD Student
University of Nottingham

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