Susan E. Duncan


  • Co-Director, Water INTERface Integrated Graduate Education Program (Water IGEP)


  • Ph.D., Food Science and Technology, The University of Tennessee, 1989
  • M.S., Food and Nutrition, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, 1987
  • B.S., Food Technology, The Ohio State University, 1981
  • Registered Dietician (RD), Commission on Dietetic Registration, 1987 to present

Employment History

2016-present, Associate Director, Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station

2014-present, Co-Director, VT Water INTERface Integrated Graduate Education Program (Water IGEP)

2004-present Professor, Department of Food Science and Technology (FST), Virginia Tech (VT)

2004-2011 Director, VT Macromolecular Interfaces with Life Sciences (MILES) IGERT Program

1996-2004 Associate Professor, FST, VT

1990-1996 Assistant Professor, FST, VT

1986-1989 Graduate Research Assistant, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

1985-1986 Graduate Teaching Assistant, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Indiana, PA

1981-1983 Food Technologist, Marzetti’s Salad Dressing Co., Columbus, OH

Awards and Leadership

1997   American Dairy Science Association (ADSA) Foundation Scholar Award for Young Scientists

2011   Faculty Research Award, Gamma Sigma Delta, VT Chapter

2013   Virginia Tech TedX Event Speaker: “Beyond Boundaries: Food and Emotions”

1986-present American Dairy Science Association (ADSA)

         2011-2014 ADSA Board member (elected)

         2014-present ADSA President-Elect (elected)

1986-present Institute of Food Technologists (IFT; member)

2000-present American Chemical Society (ACS; member)

2013-present International Association of Food Protection (IAFP; member)

Selected Funding Sources

Federal and National Organizations
National Science Foundation
Dairy Research Institute/Dairy Management Inc.

Industry Sources
ConAgra Foods
Dupont Titanium Technologies
Dupont Teijin
Eastman Chemical Co.
Nestle Purina Inc.

VT Graduate School
Institute for Creativity
Arts and Technology (ICAT)
Fralin Life Sciences Institute
College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS)

My research program includes both applied and more basic research in the areas of:

  • Sensory Evaluation, with a focus on food and emotions.  My group is evaluating and using assessment tools to measure implicit and explicit emotions and how these tools assist in providing additional consumer insight for food, packaging, and food choice and behavior. Projects in this area are multidisciplinary in nature, interacting with faculty in food science, psychology, engineering/statistics, arts, accounting and information systems, human nutrition, and/or leadership and education.  Other projects may be commodity focused, such as sensory quality on spices, sweeteners, fish and shellfish, meat, etc.
  • Food Chemistry, with a focus on oxidation.  Research in this area investigates the effect of light, oxygen, and photosensitive compounds on oxidation reactions and subsequent implications to color, flavor and sensory quality.
  • Food Packaging, with a focus on sensory interactions.  Interacting with food packaging and retail companies and national level organizations allows practical and applied research for improving packaging material design to protect food and beverage quality.  Project emphasis includes evaluating packaging materials for light and oxygen barrier properties for maintain/improving food and beverage sensory quality.
  • Water for Health, with a focus on water quality as related to effect on food/beverage quality, sensory perception, and consumer choice and behavior.  Working within the Water INTERface IGEP program, students in this research area will benefit from interactions with faculty from the Departments of Human Nutrition, Foods and Exercise, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Biology, and others.  Current projects in this area include qualitative and analytica research about drinking water sources on campus, implications of metals in water on beverage quality, perception of metallic flavor, and implications to biological fluids such as milk and saliva.
  • Milk and Dairy Foods, with a focus on emulsion stability, flavor and sensory quality. Many projects within this area are integrated within the basic categories of sensory evaluation, food chemistry, and food packaging.  Most projects involve some type of processing, packaging, chemistry and sensory activities.
  • Functional Foods.  These projects are integrated with the basic categories of sensory evaluation, food chemistry and food packaging as we study the effects of functional ingredients for health on oxidative stability of the food and packaging options for protecting the health-promoting ingredients.

RESEARCH INTERESTS (for more information, see my ResearchGate portfolio at

Publications (selected recent; [research interest area]; * indicates graduate student).  

Gardner, D. M., Duncan, S. E., & Zoecklein, B. W. (2017). Aroma Characterization of Petit Manseng Wines Using Sensory Consensus Training, SPME GC-MS, and Electronic Nose Analysis. American Journal of Enology and Viticulture, 68 (1), 112-119. doi:10.5344/ajev.2016.15099

Walsh, A. M., Duncan, S. E., Bell, M. A., O'Keefe, S. F., & Gallagher, D. L. (2017). Integrating implicit and explicit emotional assessment of food quality and safety concerns. Food Quality and Preference, 56, 212-224. doi:10.1016/j.foodqual.2016.11.002

Duncan, S. E., Moberg, K., Amin, K. N., Wright, M., Newkirk, J. J., Ponder, M. A.,  Dickson, J. S. (2017). Processes to Preserve Spice and Herb Quality and Sensory Integrity During Pathogen Inactivation. Journal of Food Science, 82(5), 1208- 1215. doi:10.1111/1750-3841.13702

Walsh, A. M., Duncan, S. E., Bell, M. A., O'Keefe, S. F., & Gallagher, D. L. (2017). Breakfast meals and emotions: Implicit and explicit assessment of the visual experience. Journal of Sensory Studies, 32(3), 13 pages. doi:10.1111/joss.12265

Thompson Witrick, K., Duncan, S., Hurley, K., & O Keefe, S. (2017). Acid and Volatiles of Commercially-Available Lambic Beers. Beverages, 3(4), 51. doi:10.3390/beverages3040051

Stancik, C. M., Conner, D. A., Jernakoff, P., Niedenzu, P. M., Duncan, S. E., Bianchi, L. M., & Johnson, D. S. (2017). Accelerated light protection performance measurement technology validated for dairy milk packaging design. Packaging Technology and Science, 30(12), 771-780. doi:10.1002/pts.2326

Chu, H. S. K., Stoneham, T., Kuhn, D. D., Duncan, S. E., Smith, S. A., Taylor, D. P., & O'Keefe, S. O. (2017). 21st century consumer behaviors - why are we interested in value-added "designer" tilapia. Aquaculture America 2017. February 19-22, 2017. San Antonio, Texas. 

Potts, H., K. Amin, and S. Duncan. 2017. Retail lighting and packaging influences consumer acceptability of fluid milk. J. Dairy Sci. 100:1-11.

Wang, A., S.E. Duncan, and A.M. Dietrich. 2016. Effect of iron on taste perception and emotional response of sweetened beverage under different water conditions. Food Qual. Pref. 54:58-66.

Wang, A., S.E. Duncan, K.F. Knowlton, W.K. Ray, and A.M. Dietrich. 2016. Milk protein composition and stability changes affected by iron in water sources. J. Dairy Sci. 99(6):4206-4219.

Crist, C.A., S.E. Duncan, D.L. Gallagher. 2016. Protocol for data collection and analysis applied to automated facial expression analysis technology and temporal analysis for sensory evaluation. J. Vis. Exp. E54046, doi:10.3791/54046. Date Published 7/1/2016.

Sheibani, E., S. Duncan, D. Kuhn, A. Dietrich, and S. O’Keefe. 2016. SDE and SPME analysis of flavor compounds in Jin Xuan Oolong tea. J. Food Sci. 81(2):C348-C358.

Walsh, A., S. Duncan, H. Potts, and D. Gallagher. 2015. Comparing quality and emotional responses as related to acceptability of light-induced oxidation flavor in milk. Food Res. Internat. 76(P2):293-300.

Leitch, K., S. Duncan, S. O’Keefe, R. Rudd, D. Gallagher. 2015. Characterizing consumer emotional response to sweeteners using an emotion terminology questionnaire and facial expression. Food Res. Internat. 76(P2):283-292.

Bianchi*, L.M., S.E. Duncan, J.B. Webster, A.P. Neilson, and S.F. O’Keefe. 2015. Contribution of chlorophyll to photooxidation of soybean at specific visible wavelengths of light. J. Fd. Sci.  80(2):C252-C261. [Food Chemistry]

Johnson, D., S. Duncan, L. Bianchi, H. Chang, W. Eigel, and S. O’Keefe. 2015. Packaging modifications for protecting flavor of extended shelf-life milk from light. J. Dairy Sci. 98(4):2205-2214.

Ye, L., H. Wang, W. Duncan, W. Eigel, and S. O’Keefe. 2015. Antioxidant activities of Vine Tea (Ampelopsis grossedentata) extract and its major component dihydromyricetin in soybean oil and cooked ground beef. Food Chem. 172:416-422.

Kingsley, D., S. Duncan, L. Granata, A. Salinas-Jones, G. Flick, D. Bourne, and V. Fernandez-Plotka. 2015. High-pressure processing with hot sauce flavouring enhances sensory quality for raw oysters (Crassostrea virginica). Internat. J. Food Sci. Technol. 50(9):2013-2021.

Thompson-Witrick, K., R. Rouseff, K. Cadwallader, S. Duncan, W. Eigel, J. Tanko, and S. O’Keefe. 2015. Comparison of two extraction techniques, solid-phase microextraction versus continuous liquid-liquid extraction/solvent-assisted flavor evaporation, for the analysis of flavor compounds in gueuze lambic beer. J. Food Sci. 80(3):C571-C576.

Leyrer, C.M., M.D. Chan, A.M. Peiffer, E. Horne, M. Harmon, A.F. Carter, W.H. Hinson, S. Mirlohi*, S.E. Duncan, A.M. Dietrich, G.J. Lesser. 2014. Taste and smell disturbances after brain irradiation: Dose volume histogram analysis of a prospective observational study. Pract Radiat Oncol. 2014 Mar-Apr;4(2):130-5. doi: 10.1016/j.prro.2013.06.003. Epub 2013 Jul 25. [Sensory Evaluation; Food Chemistry; Water for Health]

Mirlohi*, S., S.E. Duncan, M. Harmon, D. Case, G. Lesser, A.M. Dietrich. 2014. Analysis of salivary fluid and chemosensory functions in patients treated for primary malignant brain tumors. Clin. Oral. Invest. DOI 10.1007/s00784-014-1211-8. [Sensory Evaluation; Food Chemistry; Water for Health]

Mann*, G. R., S. E. Duncan, K. F. Knowlton, A. D. Dietrich, and S. F. O’Keefe. 2013. Effects of mineral content of bovine drinking water: Does iron content affect milk quality? J. Dairy Sci. 96 :7478ñ–7489 [Sensory Evaluation; Milk and Dairy Foods; Water for Health]

Duncan, S. E. and H.H. Chang*. 2012. Implications of light energy on food quality and packaging selection. Adv. Food Nutr. Research 67:25-66. [Food Packaging]

Moore*, R., S. E. Duncan, A. Rasor, W. N. Eigel, S. F. O'Keefe. 2012. Oxidative stability of an extended shelf-life dairy-based beverage system designed to contribute to heart health. J. Dairy Sci. 95(11):6242-6251. [Food Chemistry; Sensory Evaluation; Milk and Dairy Foods; Functional Foods]

Duncan, S. E. and S. Hannah*. 2012. Light-protective packaging materials for foods and beverages. Ch. 15. In Yam, K. L. and D.S. Lee (eds). Emerging Food Packaging Technologies: Principles and Practice. Woodhead Publishing Ltd. [Food Packaging]

Rognlien*, M., S. E. Duncan, W. N. Eigel, S. F. O’Keefe. 2012. Consumer perception and sensory impact of oxidation in omega-3 enriched savory flavored yogurt. J. Dairy Sci. 95:1690-1698. [Food Chemistry; Sensory Evaluation; Milk and Dairy Foods; Functional Foods]

Conference Papers and Presentations

Crist, C., Duncan, S. E., Dietrich, A. M., & Schroeder, M. (2017). Assessment of drinking water quality and user perceptions between filling stations and water fountains on a college campus: a mixed methods approach. Sydney, Australia.

Wang, A., Duncan, S. E., & Dietrich, A. M. (2017). Effect of drinking water minerals on sweetness and metallic taste perception and emotional response of sweetened beverage. Sydney, Australia.

Duncan, S. E., Wang, A., & Mann, G. (2017). Effect of iron in farm and processing water sources on milk quality. In J. Wang, N. Zheng, S. Zhao, & A. Kertz (Eds.), Proceedings of the 5th International Symposium on Dairy Cow Nutrition and Milk Quality Vol. 5 (pp. 99-110). Institute of Animal Science, CAAS, Beijing, China.

Duncan, S. E. (2017). Iron and Copper in Farm and Plant Water and Impact on Milk Flavor. In American Dairy Science Association Annual Meeting. Pittsburgh, PA.

Duncan, S. E. (2017). Preserving milk freshness in retail environment. In Journal of Dairy Science Vol. 100 (pp. 380). Pittsburgh, PA: American Dairy Science Association. Retrieved from

Duncan, S. E. (2017). Light impact on quality of milk. In Milk Symposium: Provide Best Tasting Milk by Protecting it from light. St Paul, Minnesota. Retrieved from

Dadmun, C., Duncan, S. E., & Wang, A. (2017). Efficacy of Material Interface for Minimizing Light Energy and Riboflavin Excitation to Protect Freshness and Nutrients in Milk. Blacksburg, Virginia.

Hand, R., Duncan, S. E., & Wang, A. (2017). Protecting Milk Freshness with Packaging Materials. Blacksburg, VA.

Duncan, S. E. (2017). Protecting food and water quality: Considerations for materials innovation. In AVS 64th International Symposium & Exhibition. Tampa, FL.

Dadmun, C., Duncan, S. E., & Wang, A. (2017). Efficacy of material interference for minimizing light energy and riboflavin excitation to protect freshness and nutrients in milk. In 69th Southeast Regional Meeting of the American Chemical Society (pp. 234 pages). Charlotte, NC. Retrieved from



Dr. Susan E. Duncan
  • (540) 231-8675
    202-B HABB1 (0924)
    1230 Washington Street SW
    Blacksburg, VA 24061