Creating high quality, sustainable meals with microwave assisted sterilisation

Using superior microwave assisted thermal sterilisation (MATS) to create sustainable ready-meal products with high consumer appeal

Degree type

PhD

Closing date

6 March 2023

Campus

Launceston

Citizenship requirement

Domestic/International

Scholarship

$28,854pa for 3.5 years

About the research project

Shelf stable foods eliminate the cost, energy requirements and environmental impact of the cold chain. However, current commercially available options, such as conventional retort, require high thermal processing conditions which severely impact on the quality and sensory experience of the final food product. Microwave-assisted thermal sterilisation (MATS) is a rapid sterilisation approach to achieve shelf stable ready meals while maintaining the flavours, texture, appearance and nutritional value of freshly cooked foods. To be successful it must deliver foods of guaranteed quality that are significantly better than standard retort outputs.

To create flavoursome, fresh-tasting ready meals, there needs to be a better understanding of the impact of critical production and storage variables on the quality of food, such as flavour, texture and appearance. This will involve comparing objective instrumental measures of food quality using instruments, such as headspace SPME-GC-MS analysis and electronic tongue, with consumer sensory assessments to predict quality changes. The intention would be to identify and manipulate variables to achieve MATS shelf stable products equivalent to the quality and experience of freshly cooked foods. Graduates will be job-ready for a career in advanced food innovation and product development with a particular focus on premium flavours and quality.

This will be part of a broader research program to establish MATS as a commercially viable process to meet the current and future food security needs. As well as flavour development for consumer approval and appeal, other parts of the program include MATS process development and digital twin modelling, consumer behavioural impacts on viability, and sustainable packaging. This project will involve liaising with collaborators at the University of Queensland and with strategic industry partners.

Primary Supervisor

Meet Dr Samantha Sawyer

Funding

The successful applicant will receive a scholarship which provides:

  • a living allowance stipend of $28,854 per annum (2022 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.

Eligibility

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

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 to discuss your suitability and the project's requirements; and
  3. 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 2 x 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 by the advertised outcome date.

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