Post of the Month: February 2021

A trip to Eurosense 2020

Dr. Sharon Puleo, Post-Doctoral researcher at the University of Naples (Italy), Department of Agricultural Sciences, Division of Food Science – Food Sensory Analysis

Dear passengers, your captain is speaking. Welcome onboard flight Eurosense2020. We have just taken off from the kitchen and we are currently landing in the living room. Please, turn on your personal devices but mute your microphone. Thanks for choosing Eurosense 2020: an online experience! Enjoy the conference!

Eurosense 2020 should have been placed in Rotterdam, but due to COVID-19 situation, the conference has been moved to the online version only. We all missed the opportunity to meet each other and the pleasure to have face-to-face interaction, which is one of the most exciting things about joining conferences. However, surprisingly, the online version was a success.

The theme of this edition was “A sense of Innovation”, with a specific focus on innovative approaches to study sensory perception in relation to preference, choice and different types of behaviour. Considering the vastness of the theme, the contributions covered topics related to sensory for healthy eating, consumer behaviour, neuroscience, and also sustainability, labelling and branding. Also, many contributions from other fields covered really interesting topics on the context cognition, sensometrics and advanced instrumental analysis.

The first day started with the Early Career Researcher Seminar, organised by the E3S Student & Early Stage Researcher Group, and chaired by Christina Dietz, Cristina Proserpio and Nicolas Science. The presentations were selected from a worldwide pool of 130 abstracts..I was among them!

As a young researcher, I’m used to joining conferences and to speak to other people, either students and researchers. At the beginning, the idea of not seeing the faces of the people who would listen to me and of not receiving the questions face-to-face did not particularly thrill me. I have to say that although we could not see each other, it was incredibly great. The attendees could write their questions and comments in a dedicated chat and the chairmen were there to read them and ask the speakers. In my opinion, early career researcher seminars are always a good opportunity for those young researchers who want to practice and grow up as scientists. Beyond this, in particular during this edition of Eurosense, the young researchers brought really interesting studies and demonstrated to be high-level speakers.

In the afternoon of the same day, the conference was opened by Betina Piqueras Fiszman and Kees de Graaf from Wageningen University, followed by two keynote speakers, Sam Bompass from Bompas & Parr (UK) and Suzanne Higgs from University of Birmingham (UK). Both introduced two big topics of sensory science. Sam Bompass described the imminent futures of flavours and fragrance, while Suzanne Higgs went through the interactions between metabolic, reward and cognitive processes in appetite control. Two wide topics which made us aware of the magnitude of the conference.

The first day ended with the 1st E3S Established Researcher Award, chaired by Erminio Monteleone.

Day two started with a keynote of Ellen van Kleef from Wageningen University and Research (The Netherlands), who spoke about the understanding and engaging adolescents in improving the healthiness of their food choices. Understanding adolescents is always hard, but the work of Ellen van Kleef proved that it is a smart strategy to improve healthy food choices, which is a challenging aspiration.

Dear attendees, please take a break before to join the two parallel sessions. You can take a coffee, biscuits and tea..or whatever you have in your kitchen!

After the refreshment break, two parallel sessions took place on consumer behaviour and healthy eating, chaired by Garmt Dijksterhuis and Lauren Rogers, respectively.

The morning ended with the flash poster presentation, chaired by Mari Sandell. Although the speakers had a very short time, I can say that all of them managed their space and caught the eye. In the afternoon, we joined other two parallel sessions, on implicit measures and sustainability, chaired by Klaus Durrschmid and Guido Ritter, respectively.

The second day ended with the first poster session of Eurosense2020. If I could give an award for the best event offered by Eurosense2020, I would recognise the poster session spot. It was simply great. I had a poster to show during the poster sessions, and the other attendees could enter my room, switch on the video camera and the microphone and talk with me. The room assigned to each speaker was perfectly structured, the system to upload the poster (as a pdf format) was intuitive and the management of the audience was user friendly and also nice.

The day after started with new insights on the olfactory sensations and how the nose influences the eating behaviour and food navigation. This interesting plenary session was offered by Sanne Boesveldt from Wageningen University and Research (The Netherlands), and chaired by Jonathan Rason. After that, Rebecca Ford chaired the E3S student awards session, during which Julia Sick, Naomi Munoz Vilches, Katt Philippe, Emma Regan and Martina Galler were awarded as winners. Congratulations!

Three parallel sessions followed during the morning; we learned something more about what is beyond liking (chair Julie Delarue), vulnerable populations (chair Lisa Methven) and on basics of sensory (chair Rebecca Ford). The morning ended with the second flash poster presentation, with studies related to the COVID-19.

After lunch, we had the second, and no less great, poster session, followed by the fifth plenary session chaired by Thierry Worch.  John Ennis from Aigora (USA) nicely described how sensory and consumer scientists will thrive in the fourth industrial revolution. After, we had the opportunity to choose between the other three parallel sessions. Pascal Schlich chaired the session about sensometrics; Liesbeth Zandstra chaired the session about the healthy eating; Sara Spinelli chaired the session about the COVID-19 and sensory science.

And here we go on the last day! What a big day! We woke up with two keynote speakers. Hedwig the Molder from Vrije Universiteit (The Netherlands) played a sensory-like Hamlet, showing his study “To like or not to like: On negotiating taste in children of families with lower socioeconomic status”. Marianna Obrist, from University College London (UK), described how to design multisensory experiences.

The last two parallel sessions were chaired by Virginie Pouyet and Davide Giacalone. We learned new interesting things about new technologies and new methods to study consumer behaviour.

Last plenary session (the seventh!) was chaired by Gerry Jager and the keynote speaker was Victoire Dairou from Danone (France) with a presentation named “User voice hacktivists in action: Engage users to co-design and drive the Food Revolution”.

Finally, Kees de Graaf and Betina Piqueras-Fiszman presented the venue of EuroSense 2022. The conference will be held in Turku (Finland)!!

I imagine there are pros and cons of attending a virtual conference. However, summing up, Eurosense2020 was a big success, even if it was a virtual conference.

Written by Dr. Sharon Puleo

Post-doc researcher at the University of Naples (Italy), Department of Agricultural Sciences                                                                                                      Division of Food Science – Food Sensory analysis lab.                                            Main studies on sensory sensitivity, food texture, consumer science.                Currently working on texture sensitivity and new methods to measure it.

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