Lissa Davis

Lissa Davis Profile Picture
Ingestive Behavior

Mentor / Lab:
Dr. Cordelia Running/SPIT Lab

Specific Research Area / Project:
Effect of repeated flavor exposure on salivary proteins and subsequent flavor perception

Undergraduate Institution:
Oregon State University

Lab / Personal work-related websites:

Research Profile:

Many nutritional interventions attempt to increase consumption of health-promoting foods by targeting awareness, access, and education. However, these interventions often fail to address the most important factor determining food choice: taste. No matter how much access to healthy food a person has, if that food doesn't taste good, it doesn't get eaten. And, unfortunately, many healthy foods like vegetables and whole grains contain high levels of often unpalatable bioactive compounds that are differentially perceived across individuals, creating a large barrier to healthy eating for some. While there are genetic and cultural influences that shape taste perception, our research group argues that there are more readily alterable influences as well.

The SPIT Lab focuses on the sensations, secretions, and perceptions of the oral cavity and their relationship to foods and flavors in an effort to improve the eating experience. My project specifically looks at the impact of repeated exposure to bitter, spicy, and fatty flavors on salivary protein levels and subsequent flavor perception. By correlating changes in flavor perception to changes in protein level, we can identify future protein targets of interest that may modulate those changes in perception to understand the extent to which modification is possible and biologically relevant.

About Me:

Lissa Davis About Me Picture

I began my undergraduate degree in Food Science fairly certain that 4 more years of school was enough for a lifetime, with a plan to go into industry after graduation. However, after successfully presenting my undergraduate research at a national conference and seeing the diverse opportunities available for graduate student research, I realized I didn't want my career as a student to end. While I love Food Science for its tangible application of basic science, I switched to Nutrition Science as my graduate degree for its universality: everyone needs to eat, so spending time and resources to improve the experience for people is a challenging but worthwhile endeavor. For me, considering food within the context of its impact on humans makes the pursuit of knowledge much more meaningful and rewarding. My research now gives me the chance to combine both Food Science and Nutrition Science in a way that can hopefully contribute to our understanding of some of the barriers to complete nutrition, and I am very thankful for the opportunities Purdue has facilitated.


  • 2018 Purdue University Ross Fellowship Recipient
  • 2019 Travel Award Recipient, Association for Chemoreception Sciences


  • Davis L, Running C. Collection method alters observed concentration of salivary proteins important to oral sensation.
  • Poster presented at: AChemS XLI; 2019 April 14-17; Bonita Springs, FL.


  • Social Chair, Ingestive Behavior Research Center Graduate Student Association (IGSA), 2018-Present
  • Board member, Interdisciplinary Graduate Programs Student Association (IGPSA), 2019-Present

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