Joanna Wu(10)
Chicago, IL


It can be argued that all cuisine is to some extent 'fusion', a continually evolving mixture of traditional and modern, foreign and domestic, inherited and borrowed. This is particularly true in Macau, where for centuries traditional Chinese ingredients have melded with spices carried on Portuguese ships from Latin America, Africa, India, and Southeast Asia. As a child growing up in this unique culinary environment, I developed an appreciation for the diversity, freshness, and overall quality of food at an early age. By the time I left Macau for university in the States at the age of 16, this appreciation had progressed to full-blown obsession.

Longing for my family and the meals we shared together, I turned to the kitchen for comfort, and before I knew it I was hosting weekly dinner parties for equally homesick friends. During this time I also began to think more scientifically about how we interact with food and how this interaction guides our behavior. Combining these passions led me to my current position as a neuroscience PhD student at Northwestern University, where I study how the brain processes olfactory stimuli and integrates this information with other senses to create the multisensory perception of flavor.