IFST Young Scientist Competition is an annual competition offering undergraduate and postgraduate students based in the UK the opportunity to present their current or recently completed food-related project (e.g. food science, food technology, human nutrition as well as other areas that help understand food) in front of their peers and to a panel of food professionals. This year, we had a large amount of student applications and as such it was very difficult for the preliminary judges to shortlist the finalists for the regional rounds. Similar to previous years, IFST held four regional rounds enabling finalists the opportunity to present their research to a judging panel of professionals in the sector.
The first regional round was hosted by Glasgow Caledonian University, Scotland on Wednesday 29 May sponsored by R-BioPharm. With 10 finalists presenting on the evening, the competition was judged by 3 judges: Phyllis Brown (Member of IFST Scotland Branch Committee and R-BioPharm, who also sponsored the regional), Sheila Kupsch (New Product Development Consultant and IFST Fellow), and Dr Marianne James (Food Protection Science, Food Standards Scotland). With seven undergraduates and three postgraduates, judges were impressed by the high standards and the range of topics; from cranberry pomegranate to edible insects and whisky. In the end, Saskia Pinnington (Sheffield Hallam University) won the undergraduate round with her project “E.coli with a side of fries” with Jessie Hoyle (Abertay University) being the runner up with butterfly pea flower and Gabriela Biel (Glasgow Caledonian University) taking the third place with her research on commercial dog food. Blanca Margarit Requena from Glasgow Caledonian University won the postgraduate competition with her research on “Zero waste kombucha: development of a fermented beverage using fresh fruit pulp waste”.
In addition to the regional rounds in Scotland, Northern Ireland, North of England and South of England, this year we hosted a national final on 18 June in London to crown the IFST Young Scientists of the Year in the undergraduate and postgraduate categories. The final was judged by a panel of three judges: Professor Julian Cooper (Chair of IFST Scientific Committee), Alastair MacGregor (Vice Chair of IFST Education and Careers) and Sheila Kupsch (New Products Development Consultant and IFST Fellow). The judges had a tough decision to make. Congratulations to Alice Nield (University of Reading) and Saravjeet Bajwa (Manchester Metropolitan University) who won the national final of the IFST Young Scientist Competition in undergraduate and postgraduate categories respectively. Alice impressed the judges with her presentation entitled ‘Production of GOS from aerobic probiotics’. Saravjeet talked about antimicrobial properties of potential bioactive compounds of Indian spices and herbs.
Alongside the competition, we had the honour of having Dr Hazel Gowland, Expert in Food Allergy Risk, Visiting Fellow – University of Southampton as our keynote speaker. She delivered a talk entitled “Eat, snog or avoid? – What to do about food allergy”.
A big thank you to all the students who took part in this year’s Young Scientist Competition and a special thanks to all the universities who hosted and regional rounds and the judges for giving up their times.
Highlights from the Young Scientist Competition Final 2019: