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Master Student (Sensory) | Cal Poly | San Luis Obispo

Posted by kaury.balcom | May 5, 2023

Recruiting a Master Student, emphasis on sensory analysis, wine chemistry and wine production at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (CA) – Casassa Research

Tuition is covered for both years and a monthly stipend will also be provided for year 1.

Job Description Summary

The Casassa Research Group at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in California is seeking a motivated MS student to conduct research in wine sensory analysis and wine chemistry related projects. The exact area of sensory science is open. This MS student is expected to perform his/her duties in the Justin and J. Lohr Center for Wine and Viticulture and the E. & J. Gallo Winery & Family Building and will report directly to Dr. Casassa. Qualified candidates should be in possession of a BS degree and interested in the areas of winemaking, chemistry, biochemistry, sensory science, and multivariate statistics and ideally have a background in winemaking and be knowledgeable of the sensory characteristics of different wine styles. Qualified candidates should be proficient in English to perform the training of sensory descriptive panels and to be able to effectively interact with panelists. As part of your application write a 1-page research proposal on the area(s) of sensory science, and/or winemaking, wine chemistry or wine biochemistry, that you would wish to work. If interested for consideration, please contact ASAP Dr. Casassa at

The successful MS student will be responsible for the following activities:

  • Taking classes related to the MS program.
  • Work and curate the J.Lohr sensory lab while conducting research activities conducting to MS work.
  • Collaborate with various research projects, including practical viticultural and winemaking tasks.
  • Generate ideas for research projects
  • Conduct research projects under supervision: execute (and possibly design) experiments, analyze data, all conducent to MS thesis.
  • Assist in teaching/lecturing/lab preparation of undergraduate courses, if needed.
  • Write the results in articles for publication in peer-reviewed journals
  • Work with collaborators from other laboratories and industry by consulting on the design of their projects, executing the sensory part and reporting on the results
  • Train undergraduate students on experimental design, sensory methods, data analysis, laboratory techniques and instruments
  • Help with the administrative tasks in the laboratory: order supplies, maintain SOPs, coordinate research projects
  • Knowledge of R, FIZZ and RedJade software would be useful, but is not required

Possibility of renewal is based upon satisfactory academic performance, and continuing availability of funds available in the Wine and Viticulture department within the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, California.

Minimum Qualifications

  • BS in Enology, Chemistry, Biochemistry, Food Science, Horticulture, Sensory science or related fields.

Physical Demands

  • Hearing and speaking to exchange information with sensory panelists, undergraduate and graduate students.
  • Dexterity of hands, fingers, and wrist to operate a computer keyboard, and advance analytical equipment, as well as to manipulate wine samples.
  • Seeing to read a variety of materials
  • Sitting or standing for extended periods of time

About the Casassa Research group The research efforts of our research group are supported by both undergraduate and graduate students and funded through several grants. Our research heavily focusses on grapes and wines from the Central Coast of California and combines both viticultural and enological aspects covering the whole continuum from grape to wine to bottle. Culminating with the sensory evaluation of the wines, we produce under strict controlled conditions about 300 cases/year of research wines, which has resulted in about 23 peer-review publications in the past 5 years. Our approach to viticultural and winemaking problems is multidisciplinary: we combine grape and wine chemistry and biochemistry with advanced wine sensory analysis techniques, linking these results, when appropriate,

with viticultural aspects and physiological responses during the growing cycle. Our research efforts aim at tackling actual industry problems while providing viticulturists and winemakers with practical insights, including: understanding the effect of commonplace vineyard practices, such as that of cluster thinning, on Pinot noir grapes; evaluating the effect on vine age on Zinfandel physiological, chemical and sensory outcomes; understanding the effect of different maceration techniques applied to red wines such as cofermentation of red and white grape varieties; extended maceration and amount of fermentation solids; microwaved assisted extraction; stem and whole cluster additions; and contrasting fermentation temperature regimes in different Pinot noir clones.

About the Justin and J. Lohr Center for Wine and Viticulture

The JUSTIN and J. LOHR Center for Wine and Viticulture, set to be completed in fall 2021, includes a state-of-the-art, 5,000-case bonded 15,600-square-foot winery, which includes a fermentation hall, bottling room, barrel rooms and a research lab – all providing students with a learning environment similar to what they will experience in the wine industry. Also hosted in the Center there is a fully operational research winery with 36 stainless steel, 29-gallon fermentors. Both student and commercial wines will be produced here, as well as faculty and student research wines. The facility also includes a 12,000-square-foot E. & J. Gallo Winery & Family Building, which will include labs for viticulture, enology, and sensory analysis, shared offices for faculty and students, as well as an industry and community events hall for academia, industry and the community to come together to learn, connect and celebrate. You can learn more about the new Center and see a livestream of the construction site at


Dr. Federico Casassa. Wine & Viticulture Department, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, CA 93407, USA. Cell Phone: 805-748-0522; email: