In this episode we sit down “virtually” with Allison Brown, a PhD student at the Pennsylvania State University. Allison is completing the final year of her PhD degree at the Pennsylvania State University where she studies a dual-title degree in Food Science and International Agriculture and Development.

With her PhD research, she continues to study chocolate along the entire cocoa to chocolate supply chain. The international development portion of her work focuses on understanding the impact of an in-country sensory panel on Honduran cocoa quality. The bulk of her research uses sensory and chemical analysis to characterize the flavor, taste and mouthfeel sensations of cocoa liquor resulting from different Theobroma cacao cultivars. Allison recently published the consumer research portion of her dissertation in PLoS ONE, entitled “Understanding American premium chocolate consumer perception of craft chocolate and desirable product attributes using focus groups and projective mapping,” which she discusses in this podcast.

She earned a BS in Food Science from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and received an Accelerated Culinary Arts Certificate from the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone. After working in the wine industry, she switched her focus to cocoa and chocolate and earned her MS in Food Technology at Wageningen University in The Netherlands where she studied the physical properties of chocolate. Allison spent 1.5 years at Ghent University in Belgium, researching cocoa roasting and sugar replacement in chocolate.

You can find out more about Allison from the following links:


Personal Website:

PloS ONE Article:

PMCA Research Chat: Series 2 - Students
PMCA Research Chat: Series 2 - Students
Episode 12: Chatting with Allison Brown, PhD student at the Pennsylvania State University