Julie A. Mennella



Member, Monell Chemical Senses Center


M.S., Ph.D., The University of Chicago, Department of Biological Sciences, Committee on Biopsychology
M.S., De Paul University, Department of Biological Sciences

Research Summary

Dr. Mennella has made significant discoveries on the development of flavor senses and early nutritional programming. Her research focuses on understanding individual variation in taste and flavor perception, and how to measure it, paving the way to tailor medicines and dietary interventions to maximize clinical outcomes in pediatric populations. Her research areas include how volatiles from the maternal diet transmit to and flavor amniotic fluid and breast milk, impacting children’s preferences; and how childhood is a time of heightened preference for sweet and salty, and aversion to some bitter tastes. This work has guided such preeminent initiatives as the Birth to 24 Months (B-24) project and the World Health Organization’s Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity. She has also published extensively on the effects of alcohol and tobacco on women’s health and infant development. Dr. Mennella was the 2020 recipient of the Max Mozell Award, an award given annually by the Association for Chemoreception Sciences for outstanding achievement in the chemical senses.


infants, children, women’s health, mother-child interaction taste, olfaction, flavor, fruits, vegetables, lactation, infant formula feeding, breastfeeding, growth, development, addiction, psychophysics, endocrinology, pharmacokinetics

Representative Publications during the Past Five Years

Mennella JA, Reiter A, Brewer B, Pohlig R, Stallings V, Trabulsi JC. (2020) Rapid weight gain forecasts accelerated eruption of deciduous teeth and later overweight status during the first year. J Pediatr 225: 174-181.e2.

Trabulsi J, Smethers AD, Eosso J, Papas M, Stallings V, Mennella JA. (2020) Impact of early rapid weight gain on odds for overweight at one year differs between breastfed and formula-fed infants. Pediatr Obes, 15(10): E12688.

Petty S, Salame C, Mennella JA, Pepino MY. (2020) Relationships between taste detection thresholds and preference for sucrose in children, adolescents and adults. Nutrients 12(7):E1918.

Bobowski N, Mennella JA. (2019) Repeated exposure to low-sodium cereal affects acceptance but does not shift taste preferences or detection thresholds of children in a randomized cinical trial. J Nutr. 149, 870-876.

Spahn JM, Callahan EH, Spill MK, Wong YP, Benjamin-Neelon SE, Birch L, Black MM, Cook JT, Faith MS, Mennella JA, Casavale KO. (2019) Influence of maternal diet on flavor transfer to amniotic fluid and breast milk and children’s responses: a systematic review. Am J Clin Nutr. 109, 1003S-1026S.

Spill MK, Callahan EH, Shapiro MJ, Spahn J, Wong YP, Benjamin-Neelon SE, Birch L, Black MM, Cook JT, Faith MS, Mennella JA, Casavale KO. (2019) Caregiver feeding practices and child weight outcomes: A systematic review. Am J Clin Nutr. 109: 990-1002S.

Spill MK, Johns K, Callahan EH, Shapiro MJ, Wong YP, Benjamin-Neelon SE, Birch L, Black MM, Cook JT, Faith MS, Mennella JA, Casavale KO. (2019) Repeated exposure to food and food acceptability in infants and toddlers: a systematic review. Am J Clin Nutr. 109, 978S-989S.

 Mennella JA, Inamdar L, Pressman N, Schall JI, Papas MA, Schoeller D, Stallings VA, Trabulsi JC. (2018) Type of infant formula increases early weight gain and impacts energy balance: a randomized controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 108, 1015-1025.

Mennella JA, Mathew PS, Lowenthal ED. (2017) Use of adult sensory panel to study individual differences in the palatability of a pediatric HIV treatment drug. Clin Ther, 39: 2038- 2048.

Mennella JA, Bobowski NL. (2017) Personal variation in preference for sweetness: Effects of age and obesity. Child Obes, 13: 369-376.

Mennella JA, Daniels LM, Reiter AR. (2017) Learning to like vegetables during breastfeeding: A randomized clinical trial of lactating mothers and infants. Am J Clin Nutr, 106(1): 67-76.

Mennella JA, Colquhoun TA, Bobowski NK, Olmstead JW, Bartoshuk L, Clark D. (2017) Farm to sensory lab: Taste of blueberry fruit by children and adults. J Food Sci, 82: 1713-1719.

Ventura AK, Mennella JA. (2017) An experimental approach to study individual differences in infants’ intake and satiation behaviors during bottle-feeding. Child Obes, 13(1): 44-52.

MacLean PS, Blundell JE, Mennella JA, Batterham RL. (2017) Biological control of appetite: A daunting complexity. J Obesity (Silver Spring) 25 Suppl 1: S8-S16.

Mennella JA, Trabulsi JR, Papas M. (2016) Effects of cow milk versus extensive protein hydrolysate formulas on infant cognitive development. Amino Acids, 48(3): 697-705

 Mennella, JA. (2016) The development of taste and flavour senses and the factors that influence the development of food preferences and satiation during early childhood. In: Consideration of the evidence on childhood obesity for the Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity: report of the ad hoc working group on science and evidence for ending childhood obesity, 44-62. World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland.

Julie Mennella

Contact Information

(267) 519-4880