Fresh flavour preservation in ready-meals

Fresh flavour preservation for superior microwave assisted thermally sterilised (MATS) ready-meal products with high consumer approval

Degree type


Closing date

7 March 2022



Citizenship requirement


About the research project

This research is to understand changes in food flavours that occur during thermal processing and product storage. It will utilise a mechanistic understanding to develop means to counter the changes so that foods can be stored without refrigeration and still have the same consumer appeal as freshly cooked products. Shelf stable foods are more sustainable as they reduce food waste and reduce reliance on the cold chain. Experimentation will utilise objective instrumental measurements of aroma using headspace SPME-GC-MS analysis and an electronic tongue to associate the data on flavour with changes in critical production and storage variables of MATS thermally sterilised foods. Outputs of the instrumental data will be modelled against the kinetic parameters describing changes in food quality and compared with consumer taste panel assessments to assess and predict flavour changes.  The intention would be to identify and manipulate variables to achieve premium flavour quality of MATS shelf stable products to be equivalent to that of freshly cooked foods.

This research is to broaden the economic base from food exports by also producing higher value shelf stable ready meals that can be exported without refrigeration. To be successful it must deliver foods of guaranteed quality that are significantly better than standard retort outputs. To achieve this, it will utilise products from the MATS pilot plant that uses microwave assistance to rapidly sterile meals without excessive temperatures and times that degrade the quality of standard retorted or canned foods. The understanding of how MATS processing, food formulation, and storage variables influence the flavours that consumers consider as premium will drive new technologies to export differentiated premium foods from regional produce. Graduates from this research will be skilled in the development of foods with superior flavours and quality for a career in advanced food product development.

Primary Supervisor

Meet Dr Samantha Sawyer


Applicants will be considered for a Research Training Program (RTP) scholarship or Tasmania Graduate Research Scholarship (TGRS) which, if successful, provides:

  • a living allowance stipend of $28,597 per annum (2021 rate, indexed annually) for 3.5 years
  • a relocation allowance of up to $2,000
  • a tuition fees offset covering the cost of tuition fees for up to four years (domestic applicants only)

If successful, international applicants will receive a University of Tasmania Fees Offset for up to four years.

As part of the application process you may indicate if you do not wish to be considered for scholarship funding.


Applicants should review the Higher Degree by Research minimum entry requirements.

Selection Criteria

The project is competitively assessed and awarded.  Selection is based on academic merit and suitability to the project as determined by the College.

Additional essential selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Relevant degree in food science , processing, or food chemistry
  • Evidence of research capability from publications

Additional desirable selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Experience in advanced analytical instrumentation
  • Strength in advanced statistical data analysis
  • Sensory or consumer assessment experience
  • Citizenship for security clearance

Application process

There is a three-step application process:

  1. Select your project, and check you meet the eligibility and selection criteria;
  2. Contact the Primary Supervisor, Dr Samantha Sawyer, if you have any questions about the project; and
  3. Click here to submit an application by the closing date listed above.
    • Copy and paste the title of the project from this advertisement into your application. If you don’t correctly do this your application may be rejected.
    • As part of your application you will be required to submit a covering letter, a CV including contact details of two referees and your project research proposal.

Following the application closing date applications will be assessed within the College. Applicants should expect to receive notification of the outcome by email.

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