Student Spotlight: Amanda Plunkett
Amanda Plunkett’s career path didn’t initially begin in sensory science. But when her company, Canopy Growth Corporation in Smiths Falls, Ontario, was preparing to start it first sensory panel, Plunkett eagerly volunteered to help the consulting sensory scientist. This new opportunity allowed her to learn as much as she could about sensory science and she became completely fascinated by the subject matter.
When an opportunity for an on-site sensory panel leader opened up, she immediately applied and was hired. With no prior training or background in sensory and consumer science, she turned to UC Davis Continuing and Professional Education's Applied Sensory and Consumer Science Certificate Program to gain the research and development skills she needed to successfully fulfill her new role.
Why did you pursue training in sensory and consumer science, and what made you choose our program?
I decided to pursue training because I was fresh to the world of sensory and still needed to gain experience in research and development and sciences. I chose the UC Davis certificate program because I had started reading some sensory textbooks and consulting with experts in the field, and it was clear that it was THE program to take if I wanted to give myself the best chance for success in this field.
How has our program helped you in your current role?
Truly, in every way! Along with the mentors I've been so lucky to work and learn alongside, this program has provided me with everything from the fundamentals of sensory to data and statistics and how to apply everything to my current role and beyond. I found myself excitedly bringing back new information or ways of working to my team after almost every module, and it helped spark creativity in problem solving as well. The discussion boards also served as a great way to discuss ideas and solutions with peers and network with other industry students!
What have been some of your most valuable takeaways from the program?
Sensory is a small but mighty community—there is essentially no product that sensory cannot be performed on. When you think about it that way, the possibilities for our field and us as professionals are endless! The senses are so complex and fascinating, and I love sharing my new knowledge with new panelists and other departments within my company. Sensory science is truly a multidisciplinary field, and anyone interested should not be intimidated by the “science” of it all. I was initially nervous, as science and math were not my strong subjects in high school but being passionate about the subject and learning to apply it, made it easier.
View a sample lesson from the program
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Tell me about your experience with the online learning platform.
I had previously taken a few classes in university online, but they were just straight-filmed lectures without an interactive learning component. With this certificate, professors Bleibaum and Guinard did a great job building interactivity into the online learning platform to ensure that we truly got as much as possible from the course and experienced it as if it were in person. The online platform was straightforward to navigate, as was the mobile app. Any issues I had were quickly resolved by reaching out to the program admins or IT, who were very responsive, even in a different time zone.
What challenges did you encounter during the program, and how did you overcome them?
Overall, the whole program is challenging, but in a good way! The amount of content you're learning is a lot, and this is a professional certificate, so most students are also working while in this program. Overcoming this challenge was a practice in balancing work and school priorities. I understood that schoolwork would directly help improve my panel work, so taking time to make sure I could apply myself would benefit both.
What are your long-term career goals and how will completing the certificate program help you achieve them?
My long-term goal is to continue to learn and grow within the sensory field and, specifically, move into more of a sensory program management or consulting role. This certificate program has already helped me by widening and strengthening my areas of knowledge and building up my confidence.
Would you recommend this program?
Absolutely! It is the gold standard.