Mackenzie Batali has finished the second year of graduate study at UC Davis, on track to achieve her PhD. Born and raised in Seattle in a restaurant family, she received her bachelors degree in chemistry from Lewis and Clark College with an honors thesis focusing in organic sythesis of resveratrol analogues for use in medical devices.
After completing her bachelors, she worked as a synthesis technician for Emerald Kalama Chemical in Kalama, Washington, where she worked in the R&D lab on fragrance chemicals. During an evaluation of fragrance products, her interest in sensory science was piqued. She was motivated to change the course of her studies to focus on sensory at UC Davis.
"It seemed like an appropriate way to come back to that [food-related] area that I grew up in," she says.
Batali's current research is conducted within the newly-created UC Davis Coffee Center. Her research investigates how coffee brewing extraction parameters impact the sensory and chemical properties of the brewed coffee.
When she's not studying coffee, she stays active with pole dance, rock climbing, and the Davis Boffer Club, a group that she says "involves playing capture the flag with foam weapons instead of just tagging people."
Mackenzie is especially grateful to her undergraduate advisor from Lewis & Clark, who is her biggest academic motivator and she says is "the person who set me on the track to be where I am now and helped me find direction". She also acknowledges her partners and friends who she attributes as "the ones who really keep me moving every day."