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Dr Mei Peng is excited about the opportunity to work alongside some of the top researchers in the field of sensory science.

A University of Otago researcher will undertake research at two universities in the United States of America after receiving a national scholarship.

Dr Mei Peng, a senior lecturer in the Department of Food Science, is one of seven recipients of Fulbright New Zealand’s 2024 NZ Scholar Awards.

The prestigious awards are worth up to US$37,500 (NZ$61,000) for academics, artists, and professionals to study and/or lecture at a US institution of their choosing.

“I’m deeply grateful to the award and honoured to be recognised for my research contribution to the field of sensory nutrition,” Dr Peng says.

“I am excited about the opportunity this award presents to connect with fellow scholars from the US, enabling us to exchange valuable cultural perspectives and approaches that will enrich our collective understanding and further our research collaboration in sensory science.”

Dr Peng will split her time between the University of California, Davis, and Washington State University, Pullman, where she will study parental decision-making on plant-based food choices.

“I will be collaborating with my research hosts to explore parents’ perceptions and attitudes towards innovative plant-based foods, investigating how these may impact children’s food choices and consumption patterns.”

She is thrilled to be joining forces with renowned experts in sensory science.

“Working alongside some of the top researchers in my field presents an exciting opportunity to delve into a timely and significant research topic.”

Six other New Zealand researchers received scholarships for their wide-ranging studies, including indigenous language, neurodivergent learners and young adult justice.

Fulbright New Zealand Executive Director Penelope Borland says this year’s cohort of NZ Scholars represent a wonderfully diverse range of research topics and backgrounds.

“I know they will all make exceptional ambassadors of New Zealand scholarship and culture during their time in the United States.”

Dr Peng will leave in late August for about four months.

~ Kōrero by Jessica Wilson

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