Field: Sensory & Consumer Science.
Christina works in the Sensory and Consumer Science Department of Plant & Food Research, Mt Albert. Her work involves understanding consumer behaviour in relation to food choices.
Christina’s current position involves understanding consumer behaviour in relation to the food they consume. Her work includes developing questionnaires, moderating focus groups and running one-on-one interviews to gain insights into why people choose and consume the foods they do.
Pitching a new concept to consumers is an experience Christina thrives on. She loves hearing what consumers think about new ideas (such as a possible commercial product that the breeding team at Plant & Food Research have identified) – their insights provide valuable feedback to breeders.
For Christina, communicating the findings of consumer research through academic publications is a challenging yet rewarding part of the research process. Christina also enjoys the travel associated with her job, having run consumer panels and attended conferences in New Zealand, Australia and the USA.
At secondary school, Christina didn’t really know what she wanted to study. However, once she started university, she quickly realised that she was interested in research. She had a particular interest in understanding people’s behaviour, including cultural and social factors that influence their decisions. As she continued through university, Christina specialised in anthropology (the study of people and cultures), and through postgraduate study, she developed an interest in understanding why people consume the foods they do.
People love to talk about food, which makes my job really interesting, and best of all, you get to meet lots of different people.
Christina says, “Working within Sensory & Consumer Science means you are constantly surrounded by people who are passionate about food, and this has rubbed off on me!” She is also a fan of the outdoors, which is great for getting a balance when you work within a lab setting.