John Hayes


Associate Professor of Food Science,
Director, Sensory Evaluation Center


  • Health & Medicine
  • Agriculture

Focus Areas:

  • Food Science
  • Food Safety & Quality


  • Hayes is currently investigating the relationship between Covid-19 and loss of taste and smell.
  • He looks at problems with bitterness of various pharmaceuticals that may limit patient acceptance.
  • He has investigated taste perceptions of non-nutritive sweeteners, including the genetic basis of individual differences. He has also explored links between personality and affinity for spicy foods.

John Hayes studies food choice, using sensory science methods and behavioral genetics to understand biological factors that may cause individuals to like and consume some foods but not others. Hayes is also interested in using sensory science methods to increase user acceptability of various drug delivery systems. He recently began investigating the relationship between the Covid-19 virus and loss of taste and smell.

In The Media

There is a lot of folklore on what works to counteract the burn, but not much data to support the claims, said John Hayes, associate professor of food science.

Kids are notoriously picky in the vegetable department, but adults have a lot of room to improve as well. Nearly 90 percent of the U.S. population doesn't eat enough vegetables. Could anything make us change our ways? “Just giving people the information is not sufficient. If you really want to get some behavior change, you have to make it easy for people to do,” says John Hayes, a food scientist at Pennsylvania State University in University Park. “If food does not taste good, people will not eat it.”

People who taste too much

from Wall Street Journal March 19, 2013

"They could say, 'You know, I want you to eat more fruits and vegetables but you're going to find it hard to eat kale or Brussels sprouts. Maybe you should try sweet potatoes and squash instead.' "

Why do we like hot peppers?

from The Verge September 17, 2016

Need help finding an expert?

Penn State expertise spans far beyond those that we have currently featured on the site. Call us at 814-865-7517 or contact a member of the media relations staff

Go to top