Meet Our Flavor Experts

The North Carolina State University Sensory Service Center operates under the direction of Dr. MaryAnne Drake, Professor of Sensory Analysis and Flavor Chemistry and an internationally recognized dairy foods expert. Our core team includes leading sensory scientists and flavor chemists. Learn a little bit more about us and how we work tirelessly to deliver results that help our clients shine.


Flavor Experts

Dr. MaryAnne Drake

Formal Education
Washington State University, Ph.D. Food Science, 1996
Washington State University, M.S. Food Science, 1992
Central Washington University, B.S. Biology, 1990

Professional Memberships
Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), International Association for Food Protection (IAFP), American Society for Microbiology (ASM), American Dairy Science Association (ADSA), American Cheese Society (ACS)

Dr. Drake, an acknowledged expert in Dairy Flavor, has been with the Sensory Service Center since 2001. Our clients love that she is highly responsive and always in touch. She enjoys doing extensive research and rapid results driven projects.  She provides quality, hands on expertise as a taster and evaluator. With her amazingly experienced and discriminating palette, she can assuredly describe food products in a useful and sensitive way.

Her favorite meal is black bean soup and she enjoys collecting fine wines.

Read more about Dr. MaryAnne Drake on her NC STATE FBNS department page.

Michele Yates

Formal Education
NC State University, MS, Food Science, 1987
Western Carolina University, BS, Food and Nutrition, 1979

Professional Memberships
Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), American Society for Testing Materials (ASTM)

Michele has been with the Sensory Service Center for over 30 years. As a participatory panel leader, she maintains a contract DA panel trained in the Spectrum™ method to obtain especially thorough and robust results. Michele supports each new crop of graduate students in our lab and keeps track of project details with great accuracy for our clients – all groundwork for the kind of results delivery we take pride in.

Michele is an animal lover with a menagerie of pets, including backyard chickens, and is a Jam and Jelly Judge at the State Fair. She enjoys time away in the mountains.


Graduate Students

Photo of graduate student Angelina Schiano.

Angelina Schiano (PhD)

Research Interests: consumer survey methods, the impact of vitamin fortification on light oxidation off-flavors in fluid milk

Fun Fact: I am a competitive ballroom dancer.

Photo of graduate student Amy Xu.

Amy Xu (MS)

Research Interests: sensory and instrumental analysis of dairy products

Fun Fact: I have a cat that acts like a dog.

Photo of graduate student Brandon Carter.

Brandon Carter (PhD)

Research Interests: membrane filtration, dairy processing technology

Fun Fact: In college, my abstract art installation on dairy advertising in the 20th century placed 2nd in an on-campus competition.

Bryan Wherry (MS)

Research Interests: acid whey applications, dairy processing technology

Fun Fact: I once got in a fight with a bear.

Daniel Whitt (MS)

Research Interests: effect of protein content on retorted beverages

Fun Fact: I spent two years in the Amazon rainforest.

Photo of graduate student Dylan Cadwallader.

Dylan Cadwallader (MS)

Research Interests: GC-O, HS-SPME-GC-MS analysis of volatile compounds, migration of flavor and aromatic compounds of paperboard milk cartons

Fun Fact: I want to be best that no one ever was, so I established a Pokemon Go league on campus.

Photo of graduate student Heather Keefer.

Heather Keefer (MS)

Research Interests: sugar reduction in dairy foods, esp. protein bars

Fun Fact: I am currently training for my fifth marathon.

Photo of graduate student Lauren Sipple.

Lauren Sipple (MS)

Research Interests: dairy processing and chemistry

Fun Fact: I hope one day purchase a farm and open a free-range shelter for dogs.

Photo of graduate student Ken Vogel.

Ken Vogel (MS)

Research Interests: HPLC and UPLC analysis

Fun Fact: I am an ordained minister.

Photo of graduate student Marshall Dunn.

Marshall Dunn (MS)

Research Interests: milk protein concentration through membrane filtration

Fun Fact: My mom and I drive cross country every year for a quilting competition.

Photo of graduate student Ni Cheng.

Ni Cheng (PhD)

Research Interests: membrane filtration, dairy processing, and consumer perception

Fun Fact: Together, we can rule the milky way!

Photo of graduate student Peter Rizzo.

Peter Rizzo (MS)

Research Interests: consumer perceptions of lactose free milk, flavor chemistry of smoked cheddar cheese

Fun Fact: I am surprisingly good at ping pong.

Photo of graduate student Rachel Del Toro Gipson.

Rachel Gipson (MS)

Research Interests: sensory attributes of smoked cheese, consumer insights methodology

Fun Fact: I love fried pickles!

Photo of graduate student Sara Nishku

Sara Nishku (MS)

Research Interests: protein bar technology, temporal sensory methods

Fun Fact: I am a certified Reiki master.

Photo of graduate student Stephanie Meals.

Stephanie Meals (MS)

Research Interests: consumer emotions research methods, consumer perception of shredded cheese

Fun Fact: I’ve been to 9 different countries and am a certified yoga instructor.

Photo of graduate student Will Harwood.

William Harwood (PhD)

Research Interests: temporal sensory methods, consumer survey methodology

Fun Fact: I found my pet Iguana Oscar while on a camping trip in Florida.

Photo of graduate student Yejin Jo.

Yejin Jo (PhD)

Research Interests: GC-O and GCMS analysis of volatile compounds

Fun Fact: I used to work for a dumpling company.