Managing Microbiomes for Flavor and Texture


Ben Wolfe
Tufts University, Associate Professor

Benjamin E. Wolfe is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biology at Tufts University, running the Wolfe Lab. The work in the Wolfe Lab will help develop principles of microbial community assembly that can guide the design and manipulation of microbial communities in agriculture, industry, medicine, and nature. Prof. Wolfe received his BS degree in Natural Resources/Plant Science from Cornell University, his masters from University of Guelph and PhD from Harvard University before becoming a Postdoctoral Researcher in the FAS Center for Systems Biology at Harvard. His research and teaching interests include Ecology and evolution of microbial communities, Microbiology of food systems, Plant-microbe interactions, and Public perceptions and knowledge of microbes.

David Ehreth
Sonoma Brinery & Alexander Valley Gourmet, Founder

David Ehreth is the founder of Alexander Valley Gourmet, the company that produces Sonoma Brinery™ brand fresh, all-natural pickles and sauerkraut featuring a number of live-culture fermented products. Now in their fifteenth year, Sonoma Brinery products are sold throughout the US in over three thousand stores. Alexander Valley Gourmet is located in Healdsburg, California and employs over 50 people. Prior to founding Alexander Valley Gourmet, Mr. Ehreth had a 30-year career in telecommunications technology where he founded and co-founded several companies that developed advanced telecommunications products. He studied electronics at College of Marin and Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. He holds three patents in the field of telecommunications.

Mirjana Curic-Bawden
Chr. Hansen Inc., Senior Principal Scientist

Based in Milwaukee, Mirjana Curic-Bawden, PhD, has more than 30 years of experience, with emphasis on microbial physiology and metabolism of lactic acid bacteria. She has global perspective and extensive experience in development and application of thermophilic, mesophilic cultures, and probiotics in fermented dairy and plant-based products.

Robert Aguilera
Chr. Hansen Inc., Account Manager - Cultures and Enzymes

Robert Aguilera has been in Cheese since 2001. First in retail, then sourcing and importing cheese and artisan  food products from Europe, then in cheese production trade sales & support for 9.5 years serving  artisan and industrial cheese makers in cultures, equipment, aging room shelving and tools,  packaging for better shelf life and troubleshooting services.  Since 2020 he has been with CHR Hansen, primarily working with Fresh Dairy and Cheese  producers but supporting Plant Based and Fermented Meat customers as well. 

An educator by heart, Robert created a Cheese and Culinary tasting experience club in Boston  that ran for 4 years called the Bueno Queso Social Club. He is a charter member of the MA  Cheese Guild, and has been a member of the American Cheese Society educational committee  for 3 years developing educational content for the annual conference. Now he is the North  American Super User for Chr Hansen’s TasteIT Sensory Software and provider of unique  customer sensory experiences for all fermented food and beverage companies that Chr Hansen  supports. Robert is always looking forward to share, especially cheese.  

Highlight techniques being used to identify the microbial diversity in a range of fermented foods. What approaches are being used to influence the flavors and textures of fermented foods?