Division of Engineering and Food Science

Teaching in food and nutrition, consumer science, civil engineering, and environmental management.

About us

The Division of Engineering and Food Science delivers innovative teaching in the natural and built environment, and food science disciplines. This includes subjects such civil engineering, consumer science, environmental engineering and management, as well as food and nutrition. 

Our degrees are designed to challenge you, as well as being industrially relevant. Our undergraduate degrees include work placements.  Our staff actively research their field, and are sought-after to consult for major companies in the UK and internationally.

In addition to work placements, we give our students an excellent practical grounding through laboratory projects, and field visits. Plus we have relevant input from people in the business. This gives you real-world experience, all of which leads towards your employability.

Our focus on blending scientific principles and practical techniques means you gain the key skills you need. This ensures that our highly qualified graduates leave us with a clear understanding of the theory and practice in their chosen field.

Whatever you study with us, we aim to prepare you for challenges of the future, and to help you develop fulfilling and rewarding careers. 

Head of Division

Dr Cornelia Doerich-Stavridis


All our students make extensive use of the Division's well-equipped laboratories, which provide practical experience to all our students.

The Consumer Experience Laboratory is unique in Scotland and comprises of 12 climatically controlled booths designed for the sensory analysis of food and drink products.

The Process Lab is used for pilot-scale food manufacture and is unique in Scotland.  It has been designed to industry standards, and has a controlled entry system (to simulate the food industry) and features a range of equipment:

  • Our UHT pilot scale equipment, our cheese vat and homogenisers, the pilot brewing facility, spray dryer, oven and other equipment.
  • We also have a Rheometer, Texture Analyser and Particle Size analyser, and teaching / industrial kitchens for training students who want to pursue careers in Home Economics and New Product Development.

Our chemical science laboratories are equipped with AAS, GCMS’s, LCMSMS, HPLC’s and other chemical sciences mainly dealing with the extraction and purification of compounds regularly found within food and drink products.

Those students studying Fitness, Nutrition and Health have access to the facilities provided by the Division of Sport and Exercise Sciences.


Three taste testing windows with a person behind each window offering food tasting

More Facilities

Our geotechnical engineering laboratory is equipped with state-of-the-art triaxial, direct shear, consolidation and permeability equipment which offers a wide range of sample preparation support tools suitable for aggregates ranging from clay to gravel. Our laboratory is also equipped with tools suitable for geo-environmental studies such as carbon sequestration in soil. The laboratory is equipped with in-situ soil sampling tools providing support for successful soil sampling field campaigns. 

Our unique geology laboratory contains a wide range of minerals and rock types present in the UK and internationally. Detailed bedrock and sediments geological description available in the lab facilitates detailed and precise geological studies in national and international scales. 

Our structural engineering laboratory covers an extensive material testing laboratory that demonstrates experiments with structural steel, concrete, timber and engineered wood products (EWPs), road materials, etc. It is also equipped with state-of-the-art experimental apparatus that demonstrates engineering principles though structural elements’ small-scale testing. Structural Engineering analysis software, such as Robot (Autodesk), and Finite Analysis software, such as Abaqus (Simulia), are also available to our students in our modern computer labs, installed with high-spec computers.     

The highway materials lab is well equipped with industry standard testing apparatus. This allows students to carry out experiments to British Standards (BSI) requirements as well as undertake other project and research work involving various highway materials.

The GIS computer lab offers specialist software such as AutoDesk Building Design Suite including Civil3D, Robot structural analysis and Revit to support graphic and engineering drawing portfolios. N4Ce Lite software for processing Land Surveying projects and the US EPA Storm Water Management Model (SWMM) to predict the quantity and quality of stormwater runoff. Additionally, Matlab is provided to support student project work.

The Public Health laboratory and associated workshops are staffed by experienced well-qualified technicians working in unison with a dedicated research team. The laboratory is a fully equipped environmental chemistry and bioenergy production research facility containing a wide range of analytical and field equipment with a focus on treatment processes and resource recovery technologies for waste, wastewaters (including surface water) and green infrastructure.

Abertay's Civil Engineering Workshop.

Our Research

The research work in the Division is a significant contributor to the University’s Sustainable Development & Inclusive Living, Health & Care Across the Lifespan, Creative Industries & Cultural Vitality, and Security, Equality & Social Justice Challenge Spaces.

Our Engineering research aims to provide technological and sustainable solutions to contemporary problems. The Urban Water Technology Centre (UTWC) has a strong reputation for knowledge exchange and applied research by providing services to the environment, water and manufacturing industries.  Other research areas of focus include sustainable urban drainage systems, anaerobic digestion technologies, sustainability assessment and decision support tools, geotechnical and structural engineering. 

Our Food Science research profile is broad and inter-disciplinary. Expertise spans the areas of Food Science & Technology, Sensory & Consumer Science, Public Health & Human Nutrition and Microbiology/Zymology & Alcoholic Fermentations. We focus strongly on knowledge exchange and interact extensively with Industry, mainly through Food Innovation @ Abertay. Over the years, we have developed award-winning collaborations with stakeholders such as Innovate UK, Interface, and Food & Drink Federation Scotland. We pride ourselves on working on real projects that have an impact in the real world.

The Division regularly hosts Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP’s) within the Civil Engineering, Urban Water and Food Science side of our division - a great way for Academics to work in tandem with Industry.

Our research and consultancy work relates directly to the construction and civil engineering industry, waste management companies, environmental managers and regulators, the agriculture sector and the food and drink industry. Our staff are highly regarded by industry professionals, and collaborate with major companies in the UK and internationally. We have a formidable track record in combining academic skills with commercial expertise.

This cutting-edge research and knowledge exchange is often conducted in collaboration with our PhD and Research Masters students, who are integral to our research community. The knowledge and understanding we create enhances our undergraduate and postgraduate teaching.

Sustainable technologies and decision making for sustainable systems

Sustainable technologies, sustainable urban drainage systems and decision making for sustainable systems

Our sustainable technologies research focus is technology use and technology at the water-waste-energy nexus, particularly on treatment and resources recovery technologies for water, wastes and wastewaters and green infrastructure (including sustainable urban drainage systems). Research includes development of innovative technical solutions that improve sustainable management of natural resources, for example, gaining multiple benefits from the control of storm water runoff, organic waste treatment for bioenergy recovery and production of organic soil conditioner, and water and wastewater treatment for the removal of common and emerging pollutants. We have applied our expertise to determine the capability of decentralising wastewater treatment systems and of technologies to reduce environmental pollution. We have evaluated technological solutions for hospital wastewaters and examined how natural flood management can be applied in different countries and regions. Our energy research spans bioenergy production including development of new bioenergy technologies.

Abertay plays a leading role in sustainable urban drainage systems (SuDS) research nationally and internationally, where we have stimulated adoption of an urban water management strategy that mimics natural ecosystem processes for drainage. We co-lead the UK-wide SUDSnet network.

Our Sustainable Assessment and Enhancement research develops and applies methods for the assessment, visualisation and enhancement of the sustainability of policies and technologies, and to address institutional and societal barriers to their uptake. Our approach to decision making for sustainable systems recognises that engineered environmental systems are complex and management requires trade-offs among multiple competing factors. We use multi-criteria decision analysis tools, co-designed with stakeholders, and computational models linked to games technologies for interactive visualisation of sustainability criteria. Research focuses on understanding the decision-making process, knowledge requirements and development of indicators to enhance governance, decision support and public participation in decision making.  Projects support sustainable service provision for water service providers, national and local government, health services, the agricultural sector, city development and companies across the built and natural environment.

Geo-environmental, geo-technical & structural engineering

Research in this area is focused on modelling the performance and environmental impacts of structural and geotechnical engineering systems. This includes research into the analysis of the behaviour of thin-walled structures, analysis of structures under extreme loads (blast and impact), pedogenic carbon sequestration process and engineering soils (e.g. the use of recycled construction material) to improve soil properties and to maximise the sequestration of atmospheric carbon, and investigating critical on/near-shore soft sediments, as well as the study of offshore oil and gas asset decommissioning and dynamic event behaviours such as earthquakes.

Food chemistry and process optimisation

We investigate the formation of contaminates during food processing and develop strategies to mitigate its occurrence in food. Our product development and reformulation studies focus on improving the nutritional value of food and developing novel mild processing technologies for food preservation and quality. We evaluate novel yeast strains for industrial fermentations (including biofuels), investigate grain alternatives in brewing and distilling, and assess the role of wood compounds in the sensory acceptability of whisky. We collaborate closely with industry and organisations such as the James Hutton Institute and the Scotch Whisky Research Institute, together with partners in brewing and distilling.

Applied food technologies

We focus on developing novel, environmentally friendly extraction and processing methods of food by-products and food industry waste; acrylamide formation during food processing and developing strategies to mitigate this; by-product valorisation, aiming to contribute to a more sustainable, circular economy; and New Product Development and Reformulation studies. We actively collaborate with external academic and industrial partners and seek to develop applications with meaningful industrial benefits for food producers.

Consumer science and diet

Our nutrition and public health research explores links between eating habits and health, the role-specific bioactive compounds play in the prevention of diseases and the promotion of health, and the promotion of the health of consumers through diet and life-style intervention. We examine in depth the factors that affect consumer perception and acceptability of food and drink products. Our trained sensory panels are in demand by the food industry to gauge consumer acceptability of potential products prior to market release.

Our sensory and consumer science research examines in depth the factors that affect consumer perception and acceptability of food and drink products. Any New Product Development and reformulation study can be validated in our Consumer Experience Laboratory. Our facilities are often in demand by the food industry in order to gauge consumer acceptability of potential products prior to market release

Comparative physiology and nutritional health

We investigate the underlying molecular biology and physiology of fat deposition in common and grey seals, which can also serve as a model for human obesity and diabetes, as well as the impacts of environmental stressors, such as pollution on wild animals which can inform likely impacts on human metabolic health through dietary exposure and change. We are also interested in antioxidants and understanding the mechanisms through which food components interact and affect metabolic and cardiovascular health.

Applied and environmental microbiology

We use soil and plant-associated communities and model bacterial species to investigate the evolutionary ecology of biofilm-formation in experimental microcosms to better understand adaptation to natural and managed environments. We are also interested in the spread of antibiotic resistance genes in wild seal populations and the links this has with environmental and public health.

Our zymology focusses on yeast physiology and biotechnology particularly fermentation alcohol research. Yeast-derived ethanol has a major benefit to the UK and global economies. Abertay research is focused on enhancement of yeast fermentation performance by gaining greater understanding of yeast physiology and raw material bioconversions to ethanol, and evaluates yeast strain biodiversity for their potential in brewing and other bio-conversion processes. Related areas of current research include: the adoption of novel starch sources (from legumes) as sustainable feedstocks for brewing and distilling; chemistry of spirit maturation in oakwood; accuracy of alcohol declarations for alcoholic beverages. The research group, led by Professor Graeme Walker, comprises PhD students co-supervised by colleagues from Abertay’s Divisions of Engineering & Food Science, Health Sciences and Psychology and Forensic Science and projects are undertaken in close collaboration with industry and research institutes (e.g. The James Hutton Institute, The Scotch Whisky Research Institute). Further information is available from Prof. Walker.

Food Innovation @ Abertay (FIA)

Our commercial arm, Food Innovation @ Abertay (FIA), provides a practical innovation support service to food and drink businesses and allows our staff to work collaboratively with industrial partners. We offer creative solutions to business challenges using specialist staff, equipment, and facilities.

These solutions are tailored to specifically meet business needs and are delivered on schedule and in a cost-effective manner.

Through FIA, our academics and researchers have had the opportunity to work collaboratively with more than 100 industrial partners, addressing real-world problems and offering technically sound, and commercially viable solutions.

Job Opportunities

For Job Openings, including Research Fellowships, in our School view job search section on our website.

For PhD Studentships in any of our Subject areas check our Funded research projects and Postgraduate Research Funding sections on our website.

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