PhD Fellowship at Aarhus University, Denmark – DIGIFOOD

DIGIFOOD: Digital opportunities in the prediction of implicit versus explicit consumer preference and behaviour

Applications are invited for a PhD fellowship/scholarship at Graduate School of Science and Technology, Aarhus University, Denmark, within the Food Science programme. The position is available from 1 February 2020 or later.

Title:
DIGIFOOD: Digital opportunities in the prediction of implicit versus explicit consumer preference and behaviour

Research area and project description:
The PhD project is part of a key research focus on the evaluation of human-food interaction with a combination of sensory, behavioral, and biometric feedback measurements (including heart rate, skin conductance, and facial expression analysis). This will enable us to better understand consumers’ implicit emotional responses to foods and to identify major drivers of liking/preference. A key perspective here will be to gain an understanding of the impact of contextual and environmental factors driving consumer preference as well as engagement. The project is conducted in close synergy between AU FOOD and other universities and industries from both Denmark and abroad. The project is highly interdisciplinary, combining sensory science, computer science, consumer psychology, and experience design.

Data-intensive research is becoming increasingly pervasive, but the use of technology in sensory perception of food is just at its beginning. We envision a PhD at AU FOOD to contribute to a ‘platform on biometric feedback and digitalization in food’ to be part of AU FOOD’s coming facilities at Agro Food park. AU FOOD has biometrics capabilities for measuring heart rate, skin conductance, eye tracking, and facial emotion analysis as well as observation and ecologically-valid testing facilities.

Consumer testing is challenging, especially as standard questionnaires are based on consumer self-report, which may take a long time and be subject to consumer bias and demand effects. As consumer acceptance is especially critical in the context of new healthy sustainable products, this project proposes the inclusion of more nuanced and implicit measurements that include behavioural measurements as well as consumer physiological responses. Implicit behavioural measurements of food interaction (such as eating time) can be recorded using sensors and mobile applications. Biometric feedback, which is just beginning to be utilized in sensory science, can measure such implicit responses by tapping into physiological responses which reflect people’s emotional states. Furthermore, social media offers a potentially rich source of information concerning consumer attitudes and habits.

The PhD project will impact on the transformation of the food industry portfolios in terms of using digital opportunities for studying consumer trends and eating behaviour. Furthermore, the interpretation of outputs and associated insights can be applied in the continual development of consumer-driven healthy products.

Qualifications and specific competences:
Applicants to the PhD position must have a relevant Master’s degree in Food Science, Sensory Science, Computer Science, Interaction Design, Experimental Psychology, Engineering, or equivalent. Competencies in machine learning, human-computer interaction, virtual/augmented reality applications, mobile application development, sensor design, human sensory perception, and an interest or knowledge in sound design would be an advantage. Candidates must demonstrate evidence of creativity, independent learning, and a willingness to embrace an interdisciplinary approach to problem-solving.

Place of Employment and Place of Work:
The place of employment is Aarhus University and the place of work is at the Food Quality Perception and Society Science Team at Department of Food Science (http://food.au.dk/en/), at Agro Food Park 48, 8200 Aarhus, Denmark.

Please also be aware, that the PhD project involves funding from Sino Danish Center/SDC, and will be part of the Sino Danish Research Theme on Food and Health. It is therefore required that:

– the PhD student must spend time in a Chinese research environment. The specific period is 6 months in total based on the funding model for the present thesis.

– PhD students funded by the Danish SDC office are expected to contribute to the educational activities on the SDC Master’s programme in International Food Quality and Health in Beijing during their stay in China.

See the SDC’s website on the specific requirements. Please note that it is not possible to get exemption from these conditions.

Contacts:

Applicants seeking further information are invited to contact:

Qian Janice Wang
Assistant Professor

Food Quality Perception and Society
Faculty of Science and Technology
Department of Food Science
Aarhus University
Kirstinebjergvej 10
DK-5792 Aarslev, Denmark

Telephone.: +45 8715 4886
E-mail: qianjanice.wang@food.au.dk

Or

Derek V. Byrne
Professor

Food Quality Perception and Society
Faculty of Science and Technology
Department of Food Science
Aarhus University
Kirstinebjergvej 10
DK-5792 Aarslev, Denmark

Telephone.: +45 2878 2840
E-mail: derekv.byrne@food.au.dk

Further information

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