AWARD Fellow Eugenie Kayitesi took the opportunity to influence 45 students during a role-modelling event in the food science department at the University of Pretoria in South Africa.
A PhD food science student from Rwanda, Kayitesi facilitated a session during the event entitled “food science as a solution to global challenges.” Kayitesi’s AWARD Mentor and University of Pretoria professor, Riette H. L. de Kock, gave an overview of the research work being done within the university’s department of food science to address global and continental issues, including food and nutrient security, nutrition and health, nanotechnology, food processing, and consumer studies. “We talked about the role of food science in some of our everyday food-related problems,” says Kayitesi.
Other guest speakers covered such topics as the nutritional value of mixing cassava flour and soy flour, using maize flour instead of wheat flour as an option for people with gluten allergies. They also spoke about how to improve the functionality of maize protein (zein) for bread making, and the processing and shelf-life stability of ultra-high temperature (UHT) processed milk versus pasteurized milk.
Later in the day, the attendees divided into four groups who visited research stations in the food science laboratories. The group members were asked to discuss the major challenges facing food science and the food industry. “This part of the role-modeling event helped the students to work as a team, and practice their leadership skills, since each group selected a leader who reported on their behalf,” Kayitesi explains. Feedback from the groups ranged from the impact of climate on food production, to population growth creating consumer demand that exceeds food supply.
Comments from participants were very positive:
“It’s been interesting to learn the importance of food science to society.”
“It was inspiring to see how people are working to make sure we have healthy food, and to address the world food crisis.”
“I didn’t know that so much research was done on food and that food science is really needed. I might someday become a food scientist.”
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