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The HCD Team shares tons of informative content about our tools, methodologies, and overall experience in the market research industry every week. Follow along to engage in curious conversations, explorative blogging, & resourceful info on how to optimize your research initiatives.


Elizabeth (Zab) Johnson, PhD

Senior Fellow, Wharton Neuroscience Initiative at The University of Pennsylvania

Elizabeth (Zab) Johnson is the executive director and senior fellow of the Wharton Neuroscience Initiative at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Her research focuses on vision and visual behavior. Her work spans physiological approaches in the retina and early visual cortex to using eye tracking to investigate how human observers look and navigate through the world, how these processes unfold over time and with experience, and the role of social cognition and decision making in these processes. As an expert on color vision, she collaborated with Lenovo to develop computer and tablet screens with features that provide a more personalized color experience and has worked with US military and tactical law enforcement to improve their visual training and assessments. She designed and co-instructs a visual marketing class at Wharton with Professor Barbara Kahn.

Before joining Wharton, Zab was a research professor of neurobiology at Duke University's School of Medicine, where she also launched the Duke Institute of Brain Sciences.  She received her PhD in neural science at New York University and an AB in psychobiology from Mount Holyoke College. She is passionate about how neuroscience can impact and improve many aspects of how we make choices, lead organizations, and live our lives. Her research and practice strive to push applications of neuroscience outside of the traditional laboratory, in order to find new solutions for real world challenges that impact both business and society.

Dr. Maureen (Mimi) Morrin

Henry Rutgers Professor of Marketing,

Rutgers University School of Business

Dr. Maureen (Mimi) Morrin is the Henry Rutgers Professor of Marketing at Rutgers University School of Business in Camden, NJ, USA. Her research focuses on examining how the human senses impact the consumer decision-making process. She currently serves as Co-Editor of the Journal of Marketing Research and has served on the editorial review boards of the Journal of Marketing, Journal of Marketing Research, and Journal of Consumer Research and as Area Editor at the Journal of Consumer Psychology. Dr. Morrin has received several external grants to support her research as well as teaching awards and awards for her reviewing activity at the Journal of Consumer Psychology and Journal of Public Policy & Marketing. She particularly enjoys teaching courses in business analytics. She received her Ph.D. from New York University, where she was a Consortium Fellow and won an Outstanding Teaching award.  She is also a graduate of Thunderbird (MBA) and Georgetown University (BSFS). Her background includes five years of corporate work experience in advertising (at Ted Bates) and brand management (at James River Corp and Playtex Family Products).

Michael Nestrud

VP, Partnership Solutions, Curion

A true student of the human experience through the lenses of sensory science and culinary arts, Michael brings 15 years of research and consumer experience from respected establishments like the U.S. Army, Ocean Spray Cranberries, and MNC, a consumer and market research firm he founded and directed. Michael’s impressive career is built on his foundation belief that the strategic application of sensory and consumer research (paired with the right statistical and analysis and interpretation) provide endless potential to answer questions relating to the human experience of consumption, including how products make us think, feel, and behave. Michael’s published work explores topics such as new methods, meal compatibility (specifically MREs(TM)) multivariate statistics, and the measurement of human emotions associated with consumption. He earned an A.O.S. from the Culinary Institute of America and was a culinary teaching fellow prior to completing his Bachelors and PhD in Food and Sensory Science at Cornell University. In 2020, Michael joined Curion’s team as Vice President, Partnership Solutions.  He additionally serves as an officer the Pangborn Sensory Science Trust and served as 2017 and 2021 Pangborn Sensory Science Symposium Chairs.

Steve Yastrow

Author and President, Yastrow & Company

Steve Yastrow is the author of three books, Ditch the Pitch, We: The Ideal Customer Relationship and Brand Harmony. Management guru Tom Peters said, “When Steve Yastrow writes, I pay close attention.” Seth Godin wrote that Ditch the Pitch “gives salespeople the courage to be human.”  Steve is the president of Yastrow & Company, where he and his team help their clients improve business results through more compelling customer experiences and stronger customer relationships. 

Tian Yu, Ph.D.

Director of Sensory, Aigora

Dr. Tian Yu obtained her Ph.D. in neuroscience, focusing on fat and sour taste signal transduction. After a postdoctoral fellowship researching lipid metabolism, Dr. Yu devote herself to sensory and consumer science research to combine her love of sensory neuroscience and expertise in data science as a Computational Sensory Scientist. Now she is the Directory of Sensory at Aigora,  a technology company that helps sensory and consumer teams to implement artificial intelligence.

Zarak Khan

Behavioral Scientist at Edward Jones, Dan Ariely's Center for Advanced Hindsight, and University of Pennsylvania

Zarak Khan is a behavioral scientist with experience generating and applying insights to organizational strategy, innovation infrastructure, product design, and public policy.

Cited by McKinsey & Company as an "expert forging the future" of behavioral science, he divides his time across industry, academia, and philanthropy. Zarak is a Senior Manager in Edward Jones' Firm Strategy Enablement Office. He is also a Senior Behavioral Researcher at Dan Ariely's Center for Advanced Hindsight and a Behavioral Science Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania, where he teaches an applied behavioral science consulting course to graduate students.

Zarak serves on the Board of Action Design Network, a non-profit community of over twenty thousand practitioners and researchers interested in exploring the use of behavioral science and psychology in the design and development of products and policies that help people improve their lives. He graduated from Duke University's Sanford School with a Master of Public Policy degree.

Dr. Helene Hopfer

Rasmussen Career Development Professor and Associate Professor of Food Science at

Penn State University

Dr. Helene Hopfer is the Rasmussen Career Development Professor and Associate Professor of Food Science at Penn State. Research in her group focuses on the human-food interface, where they study how food composition, food structure and human factors affect food perception and acceptance. Through holistically combining instrumental analysis with human sensory testing the Hopfer group aims to study how processing affects food choice and food intake from seed to food, how complex mixtures affect food perception, and to elucidate the effects of past experiences, attitudes, and beliefs on consumer perception and acceptability.

Dr. Hopfer has authored over 50 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters, and has been funded by the National Institute of Food & Agriculture, the USDA-Foreign Agricultural Service, the PA Department of Agriculture, and the National Dairy Council.

Michelle Niedziela, PhD

VP of Research & Innovation, HCD Research 

Michelle is a behavioral neuroscience expert in neuropsychology, psychology and consumer science. Experienced from academia (Monell Chemical Senses Center) and industry (Johnson & Johnson, Mars Chocolate) in R&D of innovation technologies and methodologies for consumer research. Michelle obtained a PhD and masters in neuroscience and biopsychology from Purdue University and a BS in psychology from Florida State University.


Beginning as Scientific Director, Michelle led research design and handled all things science related. Currently as VP of Research and Innovation at HCD Research, Michelle focuses on finding and integrating new applied consumer neuroscience tools with traditional methods used to measure consumer response. 


Outside of the office, Michelle loves travelling and dancing. Her favorites places include Vietnam, Taiwan, Croatia, and Iceland. She also taught Argentine Tango while in graduate school.

Kathryn Ambroze

Manager of Behavioral and Marketing Sciences, HCD Research

Kathryn Ambroze is a behavioral neuroscientist with experience in consumer research and methodological innovation. She earned her bachelor’s in Neuroscience and Business from Muhlenberg College and her Masters in Behavioral and Decision Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania. She currently works at HCD Research as the Manager of Behavioral and Marketing Science focusing on methodological development and innovation applying neuroscience and psychological tools to consumer and market research. 

Martha Bajec, PhD

Senior Scientific Consultant, HCD Research

Dr. Martha Bajec has spent the last decade working as a scientist and leader for some of the world’s largest and most influential consumer packaged goods companies. With undergraduate and master’s theses focused on neurotransmission in model organisms and doctoral work on individual differences in human oral sensation, Martha has put the rigor and stringency of her training to work in delivering evidence-based insights on CPG categories ranging from fortified milk-based products through carbonated beverages, and beer and wine through tobacco and cannabis. 


As Principal at Bajec Senseworks consulting, Martha lends her unique expertise and perspective to researchers and leaders across CPG categories. Martha joined HCD Research in 2020 as a Consulting Director in Health and Wellness Research exploring the consumer space. In addition to providing full-service support for human testing and product evaluation, Martha’s experience innovating in highly regulated spaces ensures consideration of regulatory and compliance requirements, by design. In her spare time, Martha enjoys fermenting, extracting, and infusing natural products and foods.

Glenn Kessler

President, HCD Research

Glenn is the President & CEO of HCD Research, a communications and sensory research company which uses applied consumer neuroscience methods and traditional research tools to answer a variety of research questions. In addition to years of experience in management, marketing and market research analysis, he has conducted political communications research for campaigns and evaluated Super Bowl Advertising for major media outlets, becoming an “expert” in political advertising.


He is a regular guest speaker at The College of New Jersey, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania and The Rutgers Graduate School of Business and Management. He is now focused on bringing innovation and new business opportunities to HCD.

Allison Gutkowski

Director of Global Research, HCD Research

As Director of Global Research for HCD Research, Allison specializes in all thing’s client related, including educational sessions on applied behavioral neuroscience and applications, building relationships and developing proposals and research programs. She is responsible for new business development as well as account and project management. Allison has been a guest lecturer at Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, The College of New Jersey and Rutgers University.


Allison is very passionate about what we do here at HCD and loves to talk about it. Allison loves hearing clients’ pain points and unique obstacles that they face with their products and brands. This allows us to explore new approaches and applications that provide a solution to a problem they have not been able to solve with past research approached. Each question brings a new challenge.

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