Keen to cook up a food science gig? Meet three experts killing it in the field

Food scientists are busy maximising nutritional intake, upping a products shelf life and meeting increasing demand for better-for-you foods.

People have always needed to eat, but with ever-evolving consumer behaviour, new tech developments and modern challenges like food security to face, the food and farming industry has been anything but static. Here, we chat to the people behind some of the industry’s most exciting STEM gigs.

Jennie Brand-Miller, Professor of human nutrition, University of Sydney

Professor Jennie Brand-Miller is recognised for her groundbreaking work on the ‘glycemic index’.

“I do lots of different types of studies under the umbrella of nutrition! We [The Charles Perkins Centre] do acute studies where we feed people different foods and determine their blood glucose, insulin and hormone
responses. Along with intervention studies where we randomise volunteers to one of two diets – like, GI versus conventional.

“Recently we completed a three-year study in over 2,300 people who had prediabetes to see which diet was the most effective at preventing type 2 diabetes. The results were amazing, but I can’t tell you about them… yet!”

Jennie’s study and career pathway

  • Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Food Science and Technology, UNSW
  • PhD, UNSW
  • Professor of human nutrition, University of Sydney and Charles Perkins Centre

Karthik Gopi, PhD researcher, ANSTO

Karthik’s research resolves variability between different origins and production methods of seafood.

“In the past few years there have been growing concerns over food security, and now the source and origin of food is important too. Consumers are interested in where their food is coming from, whether it has been produced in a safe environment and prepared sustainably. Several industries are investing in technologies to help prove the origins of their produce.

“I’m currently doing a PhD on seafood traceability, looking at determining both the source and origin of seafood distributed around Australia. With the help of industry partners, I visit different sites around NSW collecting samples, before preparing them for analysis – cleaning, drying and grinding them – in a lab. Analyses gives us lots of data to play with and then it’s up to us to decipher what it all means!”

Karthik’s study and career pathway

  • Bachelor environmental management, UNSW
  • Bachelor seafood traceability (Hons), ANSTO (with UNSW and Macquarie University)
  • PhD in seafood traceability, ANSTO (with UNSW, Macquarie University, the national measurement institute and industry partners)

Max Corral, Molecular biologist, CSIRO

Growing fungi is all in a day’s work for Molecular biologist Max.

“My research looks at novel and greener technologies to tackle agricultural issues regarding pests – like insects – and diseases – such as fungi that attack crops! I mostly work in the lab, but do a little bit of bioinformatics for data analysis. At the moment I’m growing fungi in plates and treating them with specific molecules to see if it decreases growth.

“Eventually I’d love to contribute to a technology that farmers could use that would be both safe to the environment and beneficial to organisms.”

Max’s study and career pathway

  • Bachelor of biology and biochemistry, University of New Orleans
  • Masters in plant biochemistry, University of Otago
  • PhD in molecular biology and biochemistry, University of Western Australia

This article originally appears in Careers with STEM: Science.

Cassie Steel

Author: Cassie Steel

As Refraction’s digital editor, Cassie Steel spends her days researching robots and stalking famous scientists on Twitter.

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