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Basque Culinary Center presents the first Doctor in Gastronomic Sciences at international level

03 March 2023

Elena Romeo Arroyo is the first Doctor in Gastronomic Sciences at international level after defending her doctoral thesis, focused on studying the perception of sugar and the design of multimodal strategies to reduce its consumption, today at the Basque Culinary Center. Elena has obtained a cum laude distinction.

Entitled “Cut down on sugar, not on taste! A research project on sweetness perception and multimodal approaches to reduce sugar consumption”, Elena Romeo’s thesis is aimed at generating knowledge about the processes of choosing sweet foods and designing multimodal strategies in order to construct experiences that satisfy consumers’ desire for sweetness while also reducing the consumption of added sugars.

“I hope to continue learning and to help drive research on gastronomic and sensory sciences, by contributing to improving eating habits and, consequently, people’s quality of life and our environment. My doctorate is just a small contribution to addressing a larger problem, where there is still much to be done and researched. Gastronomy is, undeniably, a vehicle for bringing about change and a positive impact in society”, says Elena Romeo, Doctor in Gastronomic Sciences.

The thesis was co-directed by Laura Vázquez Araújo and María Mora Gijón, both doctors and researchers in the sensory area of BCC Innovation, Basque Culinary Center’s Gastronomy Technology Centre. They stated: “Directing the first ever doctoral thesis on gastronomy was a big challenge, since we had to leave our comfort zone to contribute ideas and ways of working in other areas of knowledge outside our field of expertise. Through Elena’s thesis, not only she, but the entire team with whom she had to interact, have learned to work in ‘gastronomy’ and to better understand the interactions necessary for the development of this science.”

Elena defended her thesis before a panel of experts made up of Paula Varela Tomasco, Senior Researcher in sensory and consumer sciences  at Nofima, and Chair of the panel; María Amparo Tárrega, Doctor of Food Science and Technology and Senior Research Scientist at the Institute of Agrochemistry and Food Technology (IATA), a centre belonging to the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC); and Lucía Gayoso Morandeira, Doctor and Researcher in the Health area of BCC Innovation.

As part of the programme, Elena completed a three-month study visit in UC Davis in the United States, where she expanded her study on multimodal strategies for reducing sugar. For this she obtained an International Doctorate mention.

As stated by Joxe Mari Aizega, general director of Basque Culinary Center, “the Gastronomic Sciences Doctorate Programme launched in 2019 puts the Basque Country back at the forefront of gastronomy, driving growth and research in the sector. Three years on, reaping the fruits, we now have the first Doctor in Gastronomic Sciences. Basque Culinary Center aims to promote research and to generate value through an academic offer that trains professionals and helps them to grow; professionals who will transform the food and gastronomy sector. The thesis presented today by Elena Romeo reaffirms this aim.”

Elena Romeo (1993, Zaragoza) has worked as a sensory analysis researcher at BCC Innovation since 2019. She did an undergraduate degree in Biotechnology at the University of Zaragoza, and holds a Master’s degree in Criminal Analysis and Investigation from the Autonomous University of Madrid. In 2019 she graduated with a Master’s degree in Gastronomic Sciences from the Basque Culinary Center, where she specialised in studying the influence of the symmetry, curvature and colour of packaging for premium foods. In 2020 she began the Gastronomic Sciences Doctorate Programme, specialising in Food Sciences, and specifically in the Sensory Analysis line of work.


PhD Programme in Gastronomy Sciencies

The PhD has materialised through a collaboration agreement made between three Basque technology centres:  AZTI, NEIKER and BCC Innovation, the Basque Culinary Center's technological centre specialised in gastronomy, which will host and direct doctoral theses within the framework of their lines of research. The PhD in Gastronomic Sciences launches its first edition in 2020 with the aim of training researchers in the field of gastronomic sciences, creating and transferring knowledge to the different stakeholders that make up the value chain of food and gastronomy. The programme includes two research teams: Research in Food Sciences and Management, Society and Cultures.

The programme is part of the Basque Government's Strategic Food and Gastronomy Plan (PEGA in Spanish), and also includes the participation of the University of Copenhagen.

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