Young Scientists in Food Science Leading Innovation - Report from the 2018 Annual Young Scientist Competitions

01 August 2018

For many years the SCI Food Group has supported the IFST's Young Scientist Competitions. Undergraduate and Postgraduate entrants submit abstracts of their Agri-Food research projects and the best ones are selected to present their work as a 10 or 15 minute talk. The best are awarded cash prizes and society membership. The SCI Food Group provides members for the judging panels and sponsors these annual awards. The winners are also invited to join SCI's Food Committee with the opportunity to participate in the Agri-Food Early Careers Forum.

This year’s South Eastern regional competition was held at London Metropolitan University on 9th May 2018. The Judging panel comprised Craig Duckham, CD R&D Consultancy Services & Chair of SCI Food Group (Head Judge); Owen Evans, Food Technologist, Marks & Spencer; Julia Hewerdine, Dunbia (UK) and Dawn Meats (ROI) (sponsor of the UG prize); Charlotte Foxton Technical Manager, Sainsbury's; Stephen Micallef, Pret A Manger (sponsor of the PG prize); Ken Spears, Retired, ex London South Bank University.

The PG winner was Laury Sellem, who is a 1st Year PhD student at the University of Reading. Laury gave a clear and engaging presentation on the University of Reading’s RESET (REplacement of SaturatEd fat in dairy on Total cholesterol) project.

Laury explained what the project was all about. “The project was aiming to reduce the saturated fat content in dairy products through a food-chain approach. The researchers successfully modified the fat content of milk by changing the diet of dairy cows. This resulted in the production of healthier, functional and clean-label butter and cheddar cheese. Those low-saturated fat dairy products could provide an efficient and sustainable strategy for lowering the population’s intake of saturated fat, and therefore reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.”

“The competition was a great opportunity to connect with professionals from the food industry. As a nutritionist, it was also interesting to get feedback from experts with various backgrounds, and to share research in nutrition to a non-expert audience. My goal is to pursue my research on cardiovascular diseases and nutrition in order to improve public health, and I believe that working in close collaboration with the food industry is essential to achieve this. I would definitely recommend any postgraduate student to take part in the IFST Young Scientist competition, and beyond the competition part, it is a challenging and informative event, and also a fantastic opportunity to expand one’s network.”

The UG prizewinner was Abigail Bourne of Sheffield Hallam University for her excellent presentation of her study into the impact of fat reduction on salt perception and the prize for the speaker who demonstrated the best presentation skills went to Dalia Gala of the University of Glasgow with a talk on genetic testing to eliminate livestock diseases.

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