06 October 2022

Abertay PhD student awarded prestigious scholarship to research carcinogenic food product

Francesca Bruno is the first Abertay student to receive the scholarship

A PhD student at Abertay University has been awarded funding by the Society of Chemical Industry (SCI) to undertake research into a food contaminant that is a potential carcinogenic for humans.

Francesca Bruno, a PhD student in Abertay’s Division of Engineering and Food Science, received an SCI Scholarship which includes funding of £5,000 to support her research into acrylamide, a food contaminant that is formed during cooking and may cause cancer in humans.  

The project involves investigating ways to reduce acrylamide formation in potato crisps which could be applied on industrial scale, and new techniques to measure it in real time during food manufacturing.

As well as funding, the Scholarship also provides Francesca with publishing opportunities, access to a network of professional mentor support, and opportunities to present her work and raise her profile within the scientific community.

Francesca said:

I’m absolutely honoured to have been awarded an SCI scholarship which will allow me to continue to explore ways to reduce this harmful food contaminant. A lot of the acrylamide mitigation measures that are carried out in the lab cannot be replicated on an industrial scale, so my research is focused on identifying methods that can be applied in a factory setting. As well as being more cost effective for manufacturers, who spends millions of pounds per year trying to reduce acrylamide formation in the manufacturing process, this will also ensure that foods on supermarkets shelves are safer for the consumer.

Following master’s degrees in pharmaceutical chemistry and latterly human nutrition and food technology, Francesca applied to Abertay for her PhD studies due to the programme's focus on industry collaboration.

The University’s Food Science and Nutrition programme was recently ranked top in Scotland for teaching quality in the latest Guardian University Guide, with the course also ranked inside the UK top 5 on all the measures in the rankings.

Dr Alberto Fiore, Professor of Food Chemistry and Technology, said:

I’m delighted that Francesca has been awarded this Scholarship which is a real testament to her ability and the quality of the teaching and research here at Abertay. We’re absolutely committed to providing our students with the opportunity to collaborate with our industry partners and allow them to apply their research to real-world problems. More and more businesses are coming to Abertay for our expertise and I look forward to expanding our partnerships in the future.

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