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Alissa Nolden - University of Massachusetts Amherst. Amherst, MA, US

Alissa Nolden

Assistant Professor of Food Science | University of Massachusetts Amherst


Alissa Nolden is a sensory scientist whose research focuses on chemosensory perception in humans.

Expertise (5)

Human Responses to Food

Chemosensory Receptor Biology

Individual Differences

Chemosensory Disorders

Sensory Evaluation


Alissa Nolden's research focuses on chemosensory perception in humans, including how individual differences in responses to foods and chemicals is associated with genetic variability, and how chemosensory perception changes as a result of dietary exposure, disease or therapeutic compounds.

Understanding the pathways and mechanisms regulating this change in sensory response can better provide tools and strategies to patients and clinicians to help manage these changes.

Nolden also examines the complexities of creating products to enhance the enjoyment of food.

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Education (3)

Penn State University: Ph.D., Food Science / Sensory Science & Clinical Translational Science

Penn State University: M.S., Food Science / Sensory Science

University of Massachusetts Amherst: B.S., Food Science

Select Media Coverage (5)

Why does Paxlovid make things taste bitter?

Science  online


Alissa Nolden is quoted in an article on research related to “Paxlovid mouth,” a metallic aftertaste that can be caused by the COVID-19 antiviral drug. The research, which Nolden was not involved in, finds that the drug activates one of the tongue’s bitter taste receptors. She calls the study “a good first step,” but hopes to see further research supporting the findings.


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Q&A: Almond, oat yogurt have more nutrient density than dairy yogurt

Halio  online


According to Alissa A. Nolden, PhD, an assistant professor in the department of food science at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and colleagues, the plant-based yogurt market is expected to grow to $6.5 million by 2030.

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Research finds almond yogurt to surpass dairy and plant-based alternatives in overall nutrition

NEPM  radio


Alissa Nolden is interviewed about her lab’s finding that almond milk yogurt has a higher nutritional density than dairy yogurt and all other plant-based yogurts. "If a consumer were to have the expectation that it has the same nutritional profile and it does not, it could potentially have big impacts on their overall diet quality," Nolden said.

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Is almond milk yoghurt better for you than dairy-based?

New Food Magazine  online


“Blending provides advantages. It provides a complete protein, and the dairy part helps to form the gelling structure within the yoghurt that so far we are unable to replicate in a plant-based system. If we can blend plant-based and dairy yogurt, we can achieve a desirable sensory profile, a potentially better nutritional profile and have a smaller impact on the environment,” Nolden concluded.

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What Your Love of Spicy Food Says About Your Personality

The Takeout  online


Alissa Nolden, a food scientist and assistant professor at UMass Amherst’s Department of Food Science, has done research into people’s perceptions of spicy food and the oral effect of capsaicin, the chemical in chili peppers that creates a burning sensation in the mouth. She likens a love of spicy food to a love of roller coasters.

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Select Publications (5)

Sucrose Concentration and Fermentation Temperature Impact the Sensory Characteristics and Liking of Kombucha


2023 Kombucha is a fermented tea beverage consumed for its probiotics and functional properties. It has a unique sensory profile driven by the properties of tea polyphenols and fermentation products, including organic acids. Fermentation temperature and sucrose content affect the fermentation process and the production of organic acids; yet less is known about their impacts on the sensory profile and consumer acceptance. Thus, we aimed to examine the impact of sucrose concentration and fermentation temperature on sensory attributes and liking.

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Taste loss in cancer patients: clinicians’ perceptions of educational materials and diagnostic tools

Supportive Care in Cancer

2023 Cancer therapy is essential and lifesaving; however, it can have short-and long-term consequences on patients’ health. Up to 87% of cancer patients report changes in taste function, yet patients report a lack of support from clinicians regarding their experience with taste loss during and following treatment. Thus, the objective of this study was to assess clinicians’ knowledge and experience with managing patients with taste loss and identify potential gaps in the availability of educational materials and diagnostic tools.

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A Comparison of the Nutritional Profile and Nutrient Density of Commercially Available Plant-Based and Dairy Yogurts in the United States

Frontiers in Nutrition

2023 Plant-based yogurts are sustainable alternatives to dairy yogurts, but a nutritional comparison of plant-based yogurts within the context of dairy yogurts has not yet been applied to commercially available products in the United States. Dairy yogurts provide significant dietary nutrients, and substituting plant-based yogurts may have unintended nutritional consequences. The objective of this study was to compare the macronutrient and micronutrient values of commercially available plant-based and dairy yogurts launched between 2016 and 2021.

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What if plant-based yogurts were like dairy yogurts? Texture perception and liking of plant-based yogurts among US and Finnish consumers

Food Quality and Preference

2023 One of the biggest trends in the food industry is developing plant-based (PB) alternatives for dairy (D) products that mimic their counterparts. The prominent view is that these novel PB foods should represent conventional foods' visual, textural, and taste properties. In addition, consumer studies have demonstrated challenges in mimicking the texture properties, with PB yogurts having a thin and watery mouthfeel. This study aims to understand how much dairy-like properties contribute to the sensory and hedonic responses of PB and D yogurts among US and Finnish consumers.

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Health-or Environmental-Focused Text Messages to Increase Consumption of a Sustainable Diet among Young Adults: Importance of Expected Taste


2023 Taste is a frequently cited barrier to the greater adoption of plant-based foods, a dietary pattern associated with both health and environmental benefits. To examine the role of expected taste in promoting greater adoption of plant-based foods, we examined the impact of a text-message intervention on the expected taste of both meat- and plant-protein foods. Young adults (n = 159) were randomly assigned to receive either health- or environment-focused text messages twice a week for eight weeks.

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