We often direct our questions and expect answers from our “educators”. But today, the Vineyard of the Future will explore the individuals behind the Science – “learners” who will be asking the questions and seeking the answers. As such, here is our first part on what “maketh” a PhD candidate at the University of Melbourne (UoM), specifically in the science of beer, wine, and chocolate!

Claudia Gonzalez Viejo
Sensory Science
The effect of bubble formation within carbonated drinks on the brewage foamability, bubble dynamics, and sensory perception by consumers

In narrating her journey into a PhD…
PP_ClaudiaJust before I finished my Master of Food Science at UoM, and after listening to suggestions from my supervisor Dr Sigfredo Fuentes, I decided to apply for a PhD at the same university. I chose to continue the topic, with which I started working on during the last year of my Masters, into my PhD as I found that I could go further with the research about beer quality. Specifically, focusing on foamability and bubbles, if I combined the study of physical and chemical composition, and the consumer perception of it. Thus, I got accepted into the PhD and obtained a scholarship from the Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences (FVAS) in August 2016.

On how her background influenced her pathway choice…

My background totally influenced my pathway choice as I have an undergraduate degree in Food Industries Engineering and have previous working experience in areas such as quality assurance, new products development, and sensory evaluation in companies such as Coca-Cola FEMSA, OXXO, and Grupo Bimbo. This made me very interested in studying the Master of Food Science and a PhD focused on beer quality as I would be able to combine my food science, quality, sensory, product development, statistics and engineering skills.

On whether her motivations have evolved since taking on her PhD…

When I first started, my motivations were more related with my interests in the food science and engineering areas. However, as my PhD advanced, other motivations emerged. This includes the need to help the industry with new and more reliable methods to assess the quality of beverages and, therefore, ensure that they offer better products to consumers.

And the real-world applications of her research work…

Although focused on beer, the findings from my research, such as new methods and machine learning modelling, could be replicated for any carbonated beverages and implemented in the industry at the end of the production line. This would deliver rapid, reliable, and affordable methods for quality control and consumer acceptability.

Claudia will be completing her PhD by July 2019.
Connect with her on LinkedIn and Research Gate.

Wendy Cameron
Wine Science
Modelling adaptations of grapevines to climate change

In narrating her journey into a PhD…
pp_wendy-e1516672986844.jpgI decided to do my PhD after a long career as a winemaker. Having felt the impacts of climate change on grape growing and winemaking, I am keen to now research how increasing temperatures are impacting grapevine growth with the aim to develop predictive models for phenology (the major growth stages) that will help people in the wine industry be better prepared for climate change.

On her motivations for taking on her PhD…

My interest in wine and my concerns that “not enough” is being done generally to prepare us for continued climate change have influenced this choice. It has only been 4 months since I started my PhD but I am even more enthusiastic now.

And the real-world applications of her research work…

If I am successful in developing models so that Viticulturists can better predict and therefore plan for the major growth stages in the vines’ development, it should enable them to manage their vineyards more efficiently and profitably, help them plan what varieties to plant, and also where they could plant new vineyards.

Wendy will be finishing her PhD by September 2021.
Connect with her on LinkedIn.

Nadeesha Gunaratne
Sensory Science
Use of biometrics and modelling strategies to identify the effects of design features in chocolate packaging towards the taste experience

In narrating her journey into a PhD…
pp_nadeesha-e1516673108882.jpgMy PhD is an interdisciplinary research involving consumer research and Sensory Science. I am working on how chocolate packages can affect consumer taste perceptions and their purchase intentions, using biometrics to capture the unconscious response of consumers, and developing machine learning models. My supervisors are the pillar behind my success during my PhD and they have been guiding me throughout; from the selection of the topic until now. The brave decision of taking up the challenge of doing a PhD was mainly due to my mother’s belief that me, together with my twin sister were smart enough to proceed through it.

On how her background played a role in her pathway choice…

It was the proudest day in my life when I was awarded two gold medals as the best student in my undergraduate studies; BSc (Sp) Food Science and Technology with a record GPA of 4.0 out of 4.0 and a First Class Honours. I was also awarded the best research conducted during my Honours Bachelor’s degree. The excellent results obtained during my undergraduate studies motivated me to apply for a scholarship at the prestigious UoM. I was fortunate enough to be accepted to UoM with a full research scholarship funded by the Australian Government.

On whether her motivations have evolved since taking on her PhD…

Doing a PhD was a passion I had within me. I have always kept my motivations high throughout my PhD since I started it until now. I create my own deadlines and make sure I meet them. I try to be very disciplined on meeting those deadlines. Time management is very important in accomplishing these goals, and my father’s guidance has been vital in this aspect. Work life balance plays a major role in being motivated throughout my PhD too. I enjoy life and attend social functions and meet with friends. But I make sure that I am completely focused when working. Also, talking about what I work on with others, tracking my progress, and celebrating my successes has motivated me.

And the real-world applications of her research work…

Assessment of potential acceptability of food products in the market is critical to their success. Packaging is the first visual impression of food products, which significantly determines consumer’s likelihood of purchasing. My findings can be applied in the food industry to design food packages and allow marketers to provide a better product to the market to attract consumer attention.

Nadeesha will be completing her PhD in February 2019.
Connect with her on Linkedin, Research Gate, and UoM.

Stay tune for our next three PhD candidates in Animal Science, Plant Science, and Sensory Science!