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Natural Polysaccharide-based Networks for Food Applications (ref: RDF20/APP/TINOCO)

Project Description

Applicants are invited to apply for this exciting fully funded 3-year PhD studentship exploring the utilisation of natural polysaccharide-based networks as advanced food materials.

There is an increasing interest in the use of natural polymers to form networks that, being biocompatible and biodegradable, can be incorporated into food products for range of applications such as structure modification, incorporation of active ingredients and/or their utilisation as coating materials for preservation purposes.

Natural polymers, such as sodium alginate, pectin and chitosan, find countless applications in food related environments as thickeners and stabilisers, encapsulating materials and in the formation of edible films. Their functionality is directly related to their backbone structure and the conditions under which the network is formed. Both of these can be altered by physical processing means.
This PhD project will explore the development of natural polysaccharide-based networks and the assessment of their performance as structuring elements, encapsulating agents and coatings materials for food products. This will be conducted in collaboration with the Institute of Agrochemistry and Food Technology (Valencia, Spain), working closely with Dr. Maria Dolores Rodrigo Aliaga.
Candidates are welcome to contact Dr. Maria Benlloch Tinoco () with any queries and for an informal discussion.

Eligibility and How to Apply:

Please note eligibility requirement:

• Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
• Appropriate IELTS score, if required.
• Applicants cannot apply for this funding if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Northumbria or elsewhere.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see

Please note: All applications must include a covering letter (max. 1 side of A4 in Arial 11 font) and CV outlining why you want to do a PhD, why you are interested in this PhD in particular and what relevant experience you can bring to this project. All applications must also include the advert reference (e.g. RDF20/…)

Deadline for applications: Friday 24 January 2020
Start Date: 1 October 2020

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community. The University holds an Athena SWAN Bronze award in recognition of our commitment to improving employment practices for the advancement of gender equality.

Funding Notes

The studentship is available to Home/EU students with a full stipend, paid for three years at RCUK rates (for 2019/20, this is £15,009 pa) and full fees.


Benlloch-Tinoco, M., Kaulmann, A., Corte-Real, J., Rodrigo, D., Martínez-Navarrete, N., & Bohn, T. (2015). Chlorophylls and carotenoids of kiwifruit puree are affected similarly or less by microwave than by conventional heat processing and storage. Food chemistry, 187, 254-262.

Unthank, Matthew G., et al. "Amino-diol borate complexation for controlling transport phenomena of penetrant molecules into polymeric matrices." Polymer Chemistry 10.36 (2019), 4920-4929.

Benlloch-Tinoco, M., Igual, M., Rodrigo, D., & Martínez-Navarrete, N. (2015). Superiority of microwaves over conventional heating to preserve shelf-life and quality of kiwifruit puree. Food control, 50, 620-629.

Benlloch-Tinoco, M., Moraga, G., del Mar Camacho, M., & Martínez-Navarrete, N. (2013). Combined drying technologies for high-quality kiwifruit powder production. Food and Bioprocess Technology, 6(12), 3544-3553.

Benlloch-Tinoco, María, et al. "Comparison of microwaves and conventional thermal treatment on enzymes activity and antioxidant capacity of kiwifruit puree." Innovative Food Science & Emerging Technologies 19 (2013), 166-172.

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