Dr Jennifer Norton


Research Fellow

School of Chemical Engineering


Contact details

University of Birmingham
B15 2TT


Jennifer Norton has been a Research Fellow within the School of Chemical Engineering since January 2011. She conducts research in the area of food microstructural engineering, including edible Pickering stabilised emulsions. She has multidisciplinary experience having a background in psychology, food engineering and sensory science. Her primary research interests are in emulsion design and food microstructure, and understanding the relationship between food microstructure, sensory perception and appetite.


  • PhD in Chemical Engineering, University of Birmingham, 2012
  • Post Graduate Certificate in Sensory Science (Pass with Merit), University of Nottingham, 2010
  • BSc (2:1, Hons.) in Psychology, Bangor University, 2007


Jennifer Norton graduated with a BSc (2:1, Hons.) in Psychology from the University of Bangor in 2007. She went on to study for a PhD within the School of Chemical Engineering at the University of Birmingham, graduating in 2012. Her multidisciplinary project, entitled “Fat reduction in chocolate: a multidisciplinary approach considering emulsion science and consumer expectations”, was supervised by Prof. Peter Fryer from University of Birmingham and Dr John Parkinson from Bangor University. She considered both emulsion science and the possible ways of reducing fat within chocolate (including running scale-up pilot plant trials with an industrial partner), and the consumer perception towards fat reduction in chocolate. Her work resulted in a patent, and the funding of a subsequent research project. She also won the IChemE Award for innovation and excellence 2010, Food and Drink Processing.

Whilst completing her PhD Jennifer also completed the PGCert in Sensory Science at the University of Nottingham; her research project was supervised by Dr Joanne Hort.

Following her PhD her role has been as an industrially funded Research Fellow within the same school. Her current Research Fellow position is on an industrially-led TSB funded project, which focuses on the design and production of edible Pickering particles for stabilisation of novel double emulsions. She conducts research in this area, and is responsible for managing the interaction and disseminating research findings to the industrial partner.

Her research interests led her to design and facilitate the installation of a food grade kitchen with sensory booths within the school that she now manages. She supervises two PhD students who work at the interface between food processing, microstructure, sensory perception and appetite. She has also designed a research-led module (Food Structure and the Consumer; an M Level 10 credit module offered to 4th year MEng, EngD and MSc students) for which she is module coordinator, which focuses on the effect of food structure on appetite and sensory perception.


Jennifer teaches in a number of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, including:

  • Food Structure and the Consumer (Module Coordinator)
  • Food Microstructure and Flavour
  • Process and Project Management

Jennifer is currently completing the Foundation of Learning and Teaching in Higher Education (the first module of the PGCert in Academic Practice).

Postgraduate supervision

Jennifer co-supervises a number of postgraduate students within the Microstructure Group within the School of Chemical Engineering. 


Research themes

  • Emulsion microstructure
  • Pickering Stabilisation
  • Food microstructure, sensory perception and appetite
  • Self-structuring for nutrient delivery

Research activity

In collaboration with with Dr Tom Mills (Chemical Engineering, UoB) Dr Gareth Wallis (Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences, UoB), Professor Penny Gowland, Dr Luca Marciani, Dr Caroline Hoad, Professor Robin Spiller (all University of Nottingham) Jennifer has been investigating the self-structuring (i.e. gelation of hydrocolloids within the acidic environment of the stomach) of foods for controlled nutrient delivery with the aim of improving metabolic control and satiety. She was the PI on an EPSRC Portfolio Activities 2011-2012 pump-priming fund for Bridging The Gap projects to support interdisciplinary translational research in food manufacturing. Jennifer was also a CoI on a Birmingham-Nottingham (Universities) Strategic Collaboration Fund to develop MRI methods for gastro-intestinal tract imaging.

In addition, Jennifer has been collaborating with Prof Martin Yeomans from the University of Sussex, and Prof Jason Halford from the University of Liverpool on projects investigating the effect of food structure on appetite; she co-supervises two PhD students in this area of research.

Jennifer has also collaborated with Laura Lee (University of Birmingham), Ian Fisk and Nicole Yang (both University of Nottingham) to investigate flavour release from emulsions.

Other activities

Jennifer has presented at a number of conferences, including Food Structure and Functionality (Poster Session Judge; Winner of Best Oral Presentation, 2013), The International Symposium on Food Rheology and Structure (ISFRS), Food Oral Processing, EuroSense (European Conference on Sensory and Consumer Research) and British Feeding and Drinking Group (BFDG) Conference (Poster Session Judge 2012).

Jennifer is an editor and chapter author of the book Formulation Engineering of Foods (2013), Wiley-Blackwell.

Jennifer has peer-reviewed papers for Food & Function (RSC).

Jennifer has been media trained, has been involved in a number of public engagement activities, including 'Brum Dine With Me: The Science of Food' an EU-Funded Researchers Night Grant around the theme of food research (she was responsible for the Chemical Engineering contribution to the event), and has been involved with primary school science fairs.


  • Lett, A.M., Norton, J.E., Yeomans, M.R. & Norton, I.T. Influence of oil droplet size on the rheological and tribological properties of oil-in-water emulsion systems in relation to sensory perception, in preparation.
  • Lett, A.M., Norton, J.E., Norton, I.T. & Yeomans, M.R. Enhancing expected food intake behaviour, hedonics and sensory qualities of oil-in-water emulsion systems through microstructural properties: oil droplet size and flavour, in preparation.
  • Douaire, M., di Bari, V., Norton, J.E., Sullo, A., Lillford, P. and Norton, I.T. Fat crystallisation at oil-water interfaces. Advances in Colloid and Interface Science, in press.
  • Norton, J.E., Wallis, G.A., Spyropoulos, F., Lillford, P.J. & Norton, I.T. Designing Food Structures for Nutrition and Health Benefits, Annual Review of Food Science and Technology, in press.
  • Norton, J.E. (2013). Design of food structures for consumer acceptability, in Formulation Engineering of Foods, in Norton, J.E., Fryer, P.J. and Norton, I.T., Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Beri, A., Norton, J.E. & Norton, I.T. (2013). Effect of emulsifier type and concentration, aqueous phase volume and wax ratio on physical, material and mechanical properties of water in oil lipsticks, International Journal of Cosmetic Science, in press.
  • Cooper, C., Norton, J.E., Marshman, C. & Norton, I.T. (2013). The acoustics of friction and microstructure of model and apparel fabrics, Textile Research Journal, in press.
  • di Bari, V., Norton, J.E. & Norton, I.T. (2014). Effect of processing on the microstructural properties of water-in-cocoa butter emulsions, Journal Food Engineering, 122: 8-14.
  • Norton, J.E., Fryer, P.J. & Parkinson, J. (2013). The effect of reduced-fat labeling on chocolate expectations. Food Quality and Preference, 28(1): 101-105.
  • Norton, J.E. & Fryer, P.J. (2012). Investigation of changes in formulation and processing parameters on the physical properties of cocoa butter emulsions, Journal of Food Engineering,113: 329-336.
  • Norton, J.E., Norton, I.T. (2010). Designer Colloids – Towards healthy everyday foods? Soft Matter, 6 (16): 3735-3742.
  • Norton, J.E., Fryer, P.J., Parkinson, J. & Cox, P.W. (2009). Development and characterization of tempered cocoa butter emulsions containing up to 60% water. Journal of Food Engineering, 95 (1): 172-178.

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