Consumer-Analytical-Safety-Sensory (CASS) Food Research Centre

The Deakin University Consumer-Analytical-Safety-Sensory (CASS) Food Research Centre is dedicated to helping the sustainable growth of the Australian food industry. By using state-of-the-art facilities and renowned researchers, we aim to deliver high-quality consumer, sensory, safety and flavour research, as well as training the next generation of food scientists.

Our vision

CASS's vision is to make sustainable and healthier foods the preferred choice of consumers.

Our objective is to identify and train students who show an interest in consumer, sensory, safety and flavour science and provide them with the opportunity to participate in different areas of industry-relevant research.

Our mission

Our team works towards:

  • conducting the highest-quality consumer, sensory, safety and flavour research
  • collaborating widely with the Australian food industry and government
  • educating the next generation of food scientists
  • promoting sensory and flavour science research both within Australia and internationally

Our team

We have a number of widely published, highly esteemed researchers and PhD candidates working hard to deliver advanced knowledge and industry-relevant sensory and consumer science.

Our staff

Professor Russell Keast Head of the CASS Food Research Centre
Professor Keast has over 15 years experience in conducting sensory studies. He specialises in the association between taste, consumption and enjoyment.
Associate Professor Robert ShellieAssociate Professor, Food Chemistry and Flavour Science
Robert Shellie’s research focuses on instrumental analysis of flavour compounds in food and beverages. He specialises in new techniques development to enhance flavour analysis capabilities.
Associate Professor Gie LiemSenior Lecturer
Dr Liem has worked in the food industry and research institutes in the Netherlands and the US. His research focus is the food choices of children and cross-cultural research.
Dr Sara CiceraleSenior Lecturer in Applied Food Science
Dr Sara Cicerale's work focuses on nutritional sensory science, specifically investigating taste function, food liking, food preference and the relationship with dietary intake, and also linking the sensory characteristics of health-promoting natural products with their chemical compositions.
Dr Snehal JadhavLecturer in Food Safety
Dr Jadhav has experience in working on food industry-based projects in the area of food safety and microbial omics. Her current research focuses on using proteomics and metabolomics approaches to solve issues around food quality, spoilage and contamination.
Dr Georgie RussellLecturer in Food Innovation
Dr Georgie Russell’s work looks at understanding and influencing consumer behaviours with a focus on psychosocial factors and how these interact with foods, food products, biological and situational factors to affect food product choice, perception and dietary patterns.
Dr Andrew Costanzo

Lecturer in Nutrition Science
Dr Costanzo has a background in nutrition and physiology, with previous research looking at the influence of genetics and diet on taste function. His current research interest is on how taste function can be utilised to increase the satiating effect of foods, therefore reducing excessive food consumption and obesity.

Dr Shirani GamlathLecturer in Product Development
Shirani Gamlath’s research interests are in designing healthy and sustainable food products. Shirani has expertise in food processing mainly in food extrusion technology and product development in plant based products.
Simone LewinProject Manager, Associate Research Fellow

Researchers and PhD candidates

PhD Candidate
Clinton Maleki

Investigating the role of texture for perceived quality of Australian rice

PhD candidate
Kathryn Colla 
Measuring dynamics of liking: laboratory versus real-life environments using advanced sensory techniques
PhD candidate
Chayan Mahmud 
Identification, characterisation, and preference mapping of odour-active compounds in coffee beverages
PhD candidate
Tanweer Gondal 
Identification, characterisation, consumer acceptance and preference mapping of aroma compounds in brown and white rice from Australian cultivars
PhD candidate
Bella Hartley 
Investigating umami as a basic taste and the association with diet and genetics
PhD candidate
Claudia Hartley 
The association between carbohydrate taste and performance
PhD candidate
Jookyeong Lee
The influence of oral tactile acuity on food texture acceptance in fussiness of children aged 5 to 12 years
PhD candidate Dipendra Kumar MahatoThe impact of sugar reduction on the consumer acceptance, physicochemical properties and microbial safety of flavoured milk
PhD candidate
Celeste Chapple
Sensory immersion in virtual environments and the influence on consumer perception, choice and consumption of healthy and unhealthy foods
PhD Candidate
Agnes Mukurumbira
Investigation of plant-based antimicrobials for applications in food packaging

Research interests

Researchers at CASS work closely with the Australian Government and food industry to help guide policy and marketing. We also promote consumer, sensory, safety and flavour science research both within Australia and internationally.

Research within CASS currently spans a number of sensory and food topics.

Sensory panels

Descriptive Analysis Panel

Our descriptive panel has operated for over eight years and has provided objective flavour profiles for our industry partners. Each member of our panel has over 200 hours of training and testing experience. We've worked on fruit and vegetables, fish and seafood, meat and even toilet paper.

Consumer Quality Panel

The panel was established in 2015 and uses unique methodology to gain consumer insights into consumer goods. For example, we recently completed an exploratory analysis of various iced coffee currently available in Melbourne.

CASS Consumer Database

One of our largest assets is the CASS Consumer Database, which lists around 500 members. Our diverse panellists are always eager to assist in our latest research projects.

Cross-cultural consumers

Australia’s increasing export activity with Asia highlights a growing need for strong consumer insight into that market, with dairy consumption trends being of particular interest.

CASS has established strong collaborative links with research institutes throughout Asia (specifically China and Thailand) and aims to form more in the future.

Children as consumers

Children’s consumption behaviours tend to differ from adults'. Their lack of full cognitive development can make the assessment of a child’s sensory perceptions difficult.

Our researchers thrive on the challenge of determining what attributes influence children’s food choices and sensory sensitivities.

Salt and sugar

Salt and sugar are two of the most problematic nutrients in the food supply, with over-consumption of each responsible for numerous pathologies. They're also key ingredients in foods that modify food preference.

Our research program is focused on understanding how we perceive salt and sugar (as well as other ‘non-traditional’ tastes), and how we can decrease levels in foods without adversely affecting consumer enjoyment.

Food choice and behaviours

A number of consumer and sensory science-related factors play a role in influencing the foods people eat every day.

Our research investigates how and to what degree these factors influence consumer food choice, behaviour and intake.

Non-traditional tastes (fat and carbohydrates)

Apart from the five basic tastes (sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami), we also focus on other ‘non-traditional’ tastes such as carbohydrates and fat.

Our research in this area is gaining rapid global interest and supporting potential new theories on current global health-related issues.

Satiety (feeling of fullness)

All consumers tend to eat to feel fill-satisfied. However, individual satiety levels are influenced by a variety of individual, environmental and psychological elements.

Our research aims to uncover how these different factors shape our individual consumption behaviours and ways in which we can alter them.

Flavour analysis

The analysis of the chemical components that make up a food aroma is important, especially when related to sensory science and consumer acceptability of foods.

CASS is home to modern separation science instrumentation for qualitative and quantitative flavour determination. We use our expertise in gas chromatography, mass spectrometry and olfactometry detection to dissect flavour from complex food samples. CASS seeks to continuously enhance analytical chemistry capability for food and flavour science, by developing, adopting and applying cutting edge technologies for flavour extraction and flavour analysis.

Working with industry

At CASS, our research focuses on determining how sensory sensations influence individuals, and the ways in which we can improve the sustainability of our food industry. We welcome industry partners and the opportunity to work on commercially orientated short- or long-term projects.

As an industry partner, your organisation will have access to one of Melbourne’s leading centres in sensory, consumer and flavour science. We have state-of-the-art facilities and a team of highly skilled experts with over 50 years of combined experience across a variety of research areas.

Our partnership agreements span a continuum from full collaboration to full consultancy. Contact us to discuss what partnership option would best suit your organisation.

Full collaboration

Where all data is shared and publishable

Full collaborative research projects aim to address an issue of significance to both groups. Funding is sought from a research agency or government body to support the research.

The aim is for the research outcomes to impact positively on the industry partner's operations while simultaneously contributing to the University's research reputation through publication.

Full consultancy

Where all data and intellectual property is owned by the industry partner

Full consultancy research projects are when CASS experts are contracted to an external industry party for a commercial fee. For example, our industry partner may need access to our large consumer panel to determine a product reformulation or potential market success.

Other projects may include sensory or flavour training programs, or data analysis and advice. Any intellectual property developed belongs to the industry partner.

Join our research team

To become a CASS research student, you need to have a clear vision of what you want to investigate and which academic staff member you wish to study with.

We welcome specific enquiries by all prospective honours, PhD and postdoctoral students to CASS staff.

Learn more about the honours program

Find out how to become a PhD or postdoctoral student

Once you know what you want to do, discuss your proposal with a potential supervisor at CASS.


Are you a current Deakin undergraduate student interested in sensory or consumer science? Learn more about our 12-week CASS-Academy program to gain some hands-on industry experience while you study.

Learn more about the CASS-Academy program

Participate in our studies

You can take part in our studies by joining the CASS Consumber Database. Our  consumer panellists are a unique group who get paid to assist with various CASS studies and industry-related consumer snack food tests.

We run a variety of both long- and short-term studies. Some studies may require participants who meet certain selection criteria.

In order to become a CASS panellist you must:

  • be 18 years or older
  • have no known food allergies or intolerances
  • have no association with a marketing company or media outlets
  • buy, like and consume various snack foods.

If you fit these criteria, you can sign up by completing our online survey. The survey takes approximately 5 minutes to complete.

Take the survey to join our CASS Consumer Database

About the study sessions

Each study session will usually run for approximately one hour. However, some studies may require less time (30 minutes) or more time (90 minutes to two hours). Certain long- or short-term trials may also involve multiple visits.

Our studies run at various intervals throughout the year and are usually held at our state-of-the-art sensory centre in Burwood (located at the Deakin Burwood Campus).

Benefits of joining the CASS Consumer Database

Becoming a CASS panellist means you have the opportunity to assist in innovative research trials, and even try new and exciting consumer snack foods, some of which may not be commercially available.

For most sessions, you'll be reimbursed with a gift voucher. The actual amount received is subject to study funding.

By completing our 5-minute recruitment survey, you'll be automatically added to our CASS Consumer Database.

Because your food behaviours and preferences change over time, CASS will contact you at the end of each year to renew your membership by re-completing the above survey.

Withdrawing from the CASS Consumer Database

If you decide to remove yourself from our CASS Consumer Database, please complete the Withdrawal of Consent form (PDF, 95.4KB) and email or send it to us.

Any uncollated or unpublished information obtained from you will not be used and be destroyed.

Our CASS Consumer Database has been approved by the Deakin Human Ethics committee. For more information relating to the project you can download a copy of the Plain Language Statement (PDF, 314KB).


Our research has featured in a variety of media and publications.


Social media


For journal publications, please refer to our staff profiles under 'Our team', which list academic output.

Newspaper and online articles

How to cook the perfect rice, according to science
SBS, May 2020

Just the taste of fat can make you feel full without eating
Deakin media release, March 2020

Super tasters, non-tasters and how your tongues’s bumps may affect your appetite
ABC News, August 2018

How sensitive are you to the taste of fat?
ABC News, August 2018

Want to eat better? You might be able to train yourself to change your tastes
The Conversation, May 2018

People aren’t born with a ‘taste’ for fat – they learn it
The Age, April 2018

Why we might be addicted to carbs
Herald Sun, November 2017

Turns out carbohydrates have a unique taste — which might explain why you can’t stop eating them
Channel Nine Coach, October 2017

Scientists have found evidence carbohydrate is the sixth taste
The Daily Telegraph, October 2017

Chemicals and caffeine: what’s the deal with decaf?
SBS Food, February 2017

How food manufacturers make junk food as moreish as possible
Channel Nine Coach, February 2017

So there's a scientific reason why we always have room for dessert
The Huffington Post, January 2017

Hated veggies as a kid? These are the scientific reasons why
The Huffington Post, December 2016

This is why junk food tastes so bloody good
The Huffington Post, December 2016

Science explains why you can't stop eating potato chips
TIME Magazine, March 2016

High-fat diets change taste buds, leading to overeating: research
ABC News, January 2016

Is fat the sixth basic taste?
Food Navigator, February 2015


ABC News – AM with Adam Shirley

Professor Russell Keast discusses how flavour and taste impact food choices at all ages – 12 June 2020

ABC News – PM with Sonya Feldhoff

Professor Russell Keast discusses how to cook chicken safely – 1 May 2020

ABC News – PM with Paul Gough

Professor Russell Keast discusses the science behind cooking ‘perfect’ rice – 24 April 2020

ABC Radio - Life Matters

Dr. Georgie Russell and PhD Candidate Jookeong Lee discuss their investigation of children’s tactile sensitivity and fussy eating – January 2020

Vision Australia Radio – Table Talk

Professor Russell Keast discusses the topic of ‘Fat as Taste’ – 19 August 2015.

ABC News – PM with Tim Palmer

Professor Russell Keast and PhD candidate Andrew Costanzo discuss how research is finding that high fat diets change taste buds, which may lead to overeating – 19 January 2016.

Contact us

CASS Food Research Centre
+61 3 9244 3753
Email CASS


Visit us
CASS Food Research Centre
School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences
Deakin University
221 Burwood Highway
Burwood VIC 3125