Student of the Year Awards – Cargill R&D Centre visit

17-05-2023

The students who won the EFFoST Student of the Year Awards 2022 had the opportunity to visit the Cargill Research and Development Centre in Vilvoorde, Belgium. During their visit, they had a tour of the facility and the chance to discuss their research with Cargill food scientists.

The day started with a brief overview of Cargill’s history. Starting as a small family business with a single storage silo, Cargill has grown into the largest privately-owned company in the world. Today, Cargill’s 155,000 employees in 70 countries draw together the worlds of food, agriculture, nutrition and risk management. Ralf Jakobi, Cargill’s Novel Ingredients Leader gave the students a warm welcome.

The students were given the opportunity to present their work to Cargill employees working on all facets of developing food and beverage products.

Byron Perez Simba, 1st prize in the MSc category, kicked off by explaining how nanosecond pulsed electric fields (nsPEF) could be used to trigger biological responses in heterotrophically grown microalgae species.  This works lays the foundation to improve the bioconversion efficiency and therefore, affordability of this potentially more sustainable food alternative.

This presentation was then followed by how ultrasound (US) treatment can be used to reduced off-flavors of pea protein-based yoghurt by Julia Matysek, 2nd prize in the MSc category. Her study showed the potential of US as an alternative homogenisation treatment and could contribute to increase consumer acceptance of plant protein-based products.

Annachiari Pirozzi, winner of the Popular vote, presented her work on structuring sunflower oil through the formation of capillary suspensions using wheat middlings (WM) as a structuring solid fraction. The use of WM enables to reduce the caloric content of the oil, while valorizing an agri-food residue of the wheat milling process, and therefore contributing to the circular economy.

Ecaterina Stribiţcaia, 1st prize winner of the PhD student category, spoke about how combining oral lubricity with macronutrients and energy load can trigger appetite suppression. These kinds of textural manipulations could be used by food developers to influence appetite regulation in order to achieve weight-management and tackle obesity.

Last, but not least, Daniel Golodnizky, 2nd prize winner of the PhD student category, presented his research understanding the transition from a liquid state to an organized crystalline state of triacylglycerols (TAGs) using molecular dynamic (MD) simulations in combination with X-ray diffraction and scattering. His findings provide a scientific foundation for a rational design of lipid-based food products, allowing better control over food sensory attributes.

Unfortunately, Elena Zand, who won 3rd prize in the PhD student category, was unable to attend to present her work on innovative pulsed electric fields assisted flow cytometry for rapid microbial detection.

In the afternoon, the students had a tour of the Cargill R&D facility stopping at a number of departments to speak to Cargill food scientists about their work. Every day, the R&D centre aims to help meet the ever-changing needs of Cargill’s customers, across different applications covering the spectrum of food and feed ingredients science as well as non-food applications. 

Check out the Student of the Year Award 2023 if you or someone you know would like to attend the EFFoST International Conference 2023 and visit Cargill R&D centre. The application deadline is 14 June 2023.

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