Kiwi wine researcher's Fulbright award leaves great taste in the mouth

2 July 2014

Plant & Food Research's Emma Sherman was one of the well-deserving recipients last Tuesday as Fulbright New Zealand announced their latest round of Fulbright exchange grantees at their annual awards ceremony at Parliament.

Sherman, a wine researcher formerly based in Plant & Food Research’s Marlborough site and now working in Mt Albert, was granted a Science and Innovation Graduate Award to research mouthfeel properties of red wine using sensory and metabolomic techniques at the University of California, Davis, as part of her PhD in Biological Sciences through the University of Auckland.

Having graduated with a BSc (Tech) from the University of Waikato in 2007, she later obtained an MSc from the University of Auckland in 2013 including a thesis on the ‘Composition of Sauvignon Blanc Press Fractions and Strategies for Targeted Fining’ that aimed to improve the quality of heavily pressed Sauvignon blanc juices through the development of targeted fining materials. 

“I'm really excited with the opportunity to study in the USA”, says Sherman. 

“I was quite late applying and wasn’t completely sure I’d get it done on time. However, the people I work with at Plant & Food Research and at the University of Auckland were very supportive, and strongly recommended that if I had the chance to do part of my PhD in an overseas lab, I grab it”. 

“I haven’t worked with anyone at UC Davis in the past, but I chose it because of their Viticulture and Oenology department – there are so many world leading scientists there.  Dr Hildegarde Heymann is a very prominent figure in wine sensory research – she literally wrote the book!” 

“Oliver Fiehn is one of the best metabolomics scientists in the world and his group undertakes a lot of diverse research. With both at Davis, it seemed a perfect combination”.

Emma sets off for California in August and will study at the University of California Davis over the next 12 months. In total 88 New Zealand and US graduate students, academics, artists and professionals were honoured as Fulbright grantees this year.


Fulbright New Zealand was established in 1948 to promote mutual understanding through educational and cultural exchanges between New Zealand and the United States of America. The Fulbright programme offers a range of prestigious awards for New Zealand and American graduate students, academics, artists and professionals to study, research, teach and present their work in each other’s countries. Fulbright New Zealand offers over 70 exchange awards each year – half to students and half to scholars – and more than 3,000 New Zealanders and Americans have benefited from a Fulbright award to date. The programme is mainly funded by the US and New Zealand Governments with additional funding from award sponsors, private philanthropists and alumni donors. 

Emma Timewell
Communications Manager, Corporate Communications,
Plant & Food Research Mt Albert,
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