School of Biosciences

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Rebecca Ford

Associate Professor in Sensory and Consumer Science, Faculty of Science


  • workRoom B17 North Lab
    Sutton Bonington Campus
    Sutton Bonington
    LE12 5RD
  • work0115 951 6685


Dr. Rebecca Ford (Becki) leads the Sensory and Consumer Science research group, is Deputy Head for the Division of Food, Nutrition and Dietetics within the School of Biosciences and sits on the leadership team for the Future Food Beacon at the University of Nottingham. Becki has a background in industry with experience in Food Manufacturing, New Product Development, Consumer Insights, Global Sensory Panel Training and Consultancy within food, brewing, beverage and consumer goods sectors. She has a doctorate in Multi-Sensory Perception and continues to be fueled by a fascination of the complexity of our sensory systems and the subsequent impact on food choice and consumer behavior. Becki's research is multi-disciplinary, collaborating with scientists in Nutrition, Engineering, Computer Science, Brewing and Flavour Chemistry to name a few. Externally, Becki and the sensory team collaborate with the University of Adelaide (Australia), University of Florence (Italy) and Brock University (Canada). She sits of the board of the European Sensory Science Society (E3S) and is a member of the E3S taste sensitivity working group. She is also a member of the Institute of Food Science and Technology (IFST) and committee member of the IFST's Sensory Science Group.

The Sensory and Consumer research group's interests include investigating;

  • multimodal flavour perception,
  • individual variation in sensory perception,
  • the use of digital technologies to understand consumer behavior,
  • sustainable consumer behavior.

Teaching Summary

Becki is programme director for the Post-Graduate Certificate in Sensory Science and module convenor for:

  • Sensory Evaluation and Sensory Techniques,
  • Consumer Sensory Science,
  • Sensory Science Project.

Becki teaches sensory content for Food Science programmes at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. At undergraduate level she is module convenor for Food Flavour and Advanced Sensory Science along with Prof. Ian Fisk, and contributes to Food Processing and Sensory Science, with colleagues Dr Jo Gould and Dr Qian Yang. At postgraduate level she contributes to teaching on Food Production Management and Brewing Science. She is an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Authority.

Research Summary

Current research investigates:

  • Individual variation in sensory perception with taste phenotype, genotype and thermally-induced taste,
  • Understanding consumer behaviour: Investigating the use of context on consumer response; Exploring the use of smart technologies to connect consumers with their food.
  • Understanding multimodal flavour perception: Investigating the nutritional and sensory impact of rare sugars; The contribution of hop aroma to beer flavour; Improving the sensory quality of low alcohol beer; Contributors of 'body' and mouthfeel in alcoholic drinks; Optimising flavour in gin; The sensory impact of adjuncts in beer.

Selected Publications

Past Research

Past research includes:

  • Multi-modal flavour perception: the effect of bitterness, sweetness, alcohol content and carbonation level on flavour perception in beer
  • Instrumental analysis of flavour in-vitro and in-vivo to investigate physico-chemical matrix interactions,
  • Functional magnetic resonance brain imaging (fMRI) to explore cortical response to flavour,
  • Taste representation in the primary gustatory cortex using high resolution functional magnetic resonance brain imaging (fMRI) at ultra-high field strength (7T), to map fine gustotopic taste representations in the brain,
  • Individual variation in sensory perception - investigating sensory and cortical differences (using fMRI) with PROP and thermal taste phenotype (Thermal Taster Status).
  • Understanding the mouthfeel of black tea

School of Biosciences

University of Nottingham
Sutton Bonington Campus
Nr Loughborough
LE12 5RD, UK

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