University launches flavor chemistry program with support from Dr Pepper Snapple

Man sitting in chair talking to woman standing
During a recent tour of TWU’s flavor chemistry lab, Steve Kramer, senior technical director of flavor technology at Dr Pepper Snapple Group, and Xiaofan Du, Ph.D., who leads Texas Woman’s flavor chemistry program, discuss how the university will use its new gas chromatography/mass spectrometry-olfactometry equipment. Using this machine, TWU students will learn how to detect and evaluate compounds found in flavor and fragrance. Photo by Michael Modecki.

September 27, 2017 — DENTON — Thanks to a partnership with the Dr Pepper Snapple Group, Texas Woman’s University has established a flavor chemistry laboratory — the first university-based research center of its kind in Texas.

“Having specialized equipment in the new flavor chemistry lab allows us to train graduate students in the intricacies of flavor, giving them experience that translates well for their careers after graduation,” said K. Shane Broughton, Ph.D., chair of TWU’s Nutrition and Food Sciences department.

Flavor chemists study food and break down food compounds scientifically so their taste and aromas can be replicated in the lab, developing new flavors and reformulating old ones. These scientists frequently work in the government and for companies that focus on pets, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, food and beverages.

“Flavor is at the heart of our business, and with flavor science continuing to evolve, it’s important to us to help cultivate a pipeline of talented scientists and progress research in this field,” said David Thomas, Ph.D., executive vice president of research & development for Dr Pepper Snapple Group. “TWU is advancing the study of flavor chemistry, and we are looking forward to collaborating with the school in a variety of ways in the coming years.”

Texas Woman’s University launched its flavor chemistry program earlier this year after research indicated flavor chemists were in high demand within the local food industry. At TWU, students can earn a master’s degree as a flavor chemist or a Ph.D. in nutrition with an emphasis in flavor chemistry, with several research opportunities in areas such as sensory evaluation, flavor reconstitution and analysis. Much of this research will be performed in the new flavor chemistry lab at TWU.

The TWU flavor chemistry program is led by Xiaofen Du, Ph.D., who is new to the university and brings international expertise to the program. In addition to her education and work experience in China, Du earned her Ph.D. in food science from Oregon State University and performed postdoctoral research at the University of Florida. Most recently, she served as the senior scientist at Firmenich Aromatics in Shanghai, China.

“Finding someone of Dr. Du’s caliber to come to Denton and start a program such as this is significant,” Broughton said. “Nowhere else in North Texas is there a program that combines the proficiency of someone like Dr. Du with the research capabilities of our new laboratory.”

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Deanna Titzler
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dtitzler@twu.edu