Dr. Beverly Tepper is a professor in the Department of Food Science at Rutgers University where she directs the Sensory Evaluation Laboratory. She is also the co-founder and director of the newly-established Center for Sensory Sciences & Innovation (CSSI) at Rutgers.
Her research program combines Food Sensory Science with Nutritional Science and Psychology to better understand the links between taste, diet and health. Specific research areas include the following:
- The influence of genetic variation in taste perception on the pathways linking oral sensations to food preferences, diet selection and body weight.
Proposed pathway linking genetic taste markers for fat perception and obesity/chronic disease risk.
Ongoing studies utilize the genetic taste marker PROP (6-n-propylthiouracil bitter taste sensitivity) and other genetic variants such as the oral fat sensor CD36 to identify individuals who may be at increased risk for obesity due to specific dietary behaviors. The role of PROP status in weight loss is also being investigated.
Learn more about taste genes and eating behavior:
- American Heart Association 2009-2010 Newsletter
Ability to taste a bitter compound and obesity
- Sensing fat: Are genes that alter the perception of fat making us fat?
- Blue-Ribbon Hunter – Are You a Supertaster? (video)
- The role of salivary proteins in sensory perception and oral health.
Current studies investigate variation in the gustin (CA6) gene and its involvement in bitter taste and astringency perception. The influence of gustin gene polymorphisms on taste bud growth and functionality is also of interest.
- The influence of personal traits on consumer behavior.
Studies examine the role of cognitions (dietary restraint and disinhibition), attitudes (variety seeking) and mood on taste, aroma and flavor perception. Studies utilize multivariate approaches to understand complex patterns of consumer behavior, especially cross-cultural influences.
- Sensory evaluation and consumer testing of new food ingredients and technologies. Recent studies have focused on nanotechnology and cooling ingredients.
Dr. Tepper has published more than 80 scholarly articles and book chapters and her work has been frequently showcased in print and online media for the general public. She receives funding from the National Institutes of Health, the National Cancer Institute, the American Heart Association, the U.S. Dept of Agriculture, and the food industry.
Dr. Tepper is the principal investigator for a National Science Foundation grant entitled, “Planning Workshop in the Sensory Sciences & Innovation”. This award is a stepping stone to establishing an NSF-sponsored Industry-University Cooperative Research Center (IUCRC) at Rutgers.