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Why does chocolate pair with coffee? Project SEED research students find out

06.24.2016 | By: Texas Wesleyan University
Teacher helping student in a computer lab

As part of the national Project SEED outreach program, high school students are performing college-level research at Texas Wesleyan this summer. Working under the direction of Professor Terrence Neumann, Ph.D., the students will be studying the chemical foundations of food pairings.

“Flavor is the perception of taste and aroma. Aroma accounts for 80% of a food’s flavor. Our research has shown that both chocolate and coffee have similar volatile chemicals such as 3-methylbutanal.” Neumann said. “Thus, these foods seem to match well.”

Emilio Zaragoza, a 2016 Polytechnic High School graduate, and Bennie Tarrant, a junior at Dunbar High School, were selected to perform the research at Texas Wesleyan this summer.

The American Chemical Society’s Project SEED provides a $2500 fellowship to economically disadvantaged students to participate in an eight-week summer research program at an academic, government, or industrial laboratory. An important feature of the Project SEED program is its emphasis on career development and its motivation of students to pursue higher education in the natural sciences.

This is Neumann’s second year as a Project SEED mentor. Although ACS provides no monetary compensation for the researchers who sponsor SEED students, Neumann feels the program is worth the extra effort.

“As a first-generation college student, I experienced challenges similar to students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds,” Neumann said. “This opportunity is available to help inspire students to pursue science through means not otherwise available.”

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