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Nutritional quality and food functionality of Australian native fruits (Burdekin plum)

Project Description

The University of Queensland led Australian Research Council (ARC) Industrial Transformation Training Centre (ITTC) for Uniquely Australian Foods (IC180100045) aims to transform the native Food and Agribusiness Sector through development of selected crops, foods and ingredients using an Indigenous governance group to oversee the process of converting Traditional Knowledge into Branded Products.

Native foods represent a major opportunity for premium Australian products in both domestic and export markets, capitalising on consumer interest in the provenance and traditional heritage characteristics of foods. The outcomes of the Training Centre will include the testing of market opportunities, the development of appropriate social and business models, and the identification of future opportunities for Uniquely Australian Foods. Economic and quality of life benefits through job creation and benefit sharing arrangements will be secured for Indigenous communities through sustainable business models which will help to Close the Gap, and the development of supply chain partnerships to reduce the risks involved in taking products to market.

This PhD project –focussed on nutritional quality and food functionality of Burdekin plum– will form part of the Training Centre as a collaboration between The University of Queensland and . Gugu Badhun Aboriginal Corporation.

The Role
There is an opportunity for a highly motivated PhD student to join the QAAFI team within the Training Centre aiming to develop the Australian native food industry. They will work directly with indigenous and non-indigenous enterprises and be involved in the various activities of the centre. The position will interact with the project collaborators in Australia and may visit collaborating scientists in Canada and Germany.

Research Area

Australian native fruits has served as a source of food and medicine to the Indigenous population for thousands of years. These fruits were reported to possess unique nutritious and organoleptic properties. In recent years there has been a renewed interest in Australian native plant foods due to their potent nutritional properties. This has led to the possibility of their use in diet diversification to improve health and wellness not only of Indigenous communities but also wider society.
The Burdekin plum (Pleiogynium timorense DC. Leenh, Anacardiaceae), a close relative of mango, is a tropical rainforest tree growing in the north eastern part of Queensland. It can be eaten raw or is used in wines, jams, and jellies and it has the potential to be used as a functional ingredient in food due to its high antioxidant capacity.

This PhD project builds on the available research on Burdekin plum and will determine its nutritional and functional value to be used as a fresh food or functional ingredient. The student will work with the Gugu Badhun Aboriginal Corporation and understand traditional uses of the Brudekin plum and generate scientific evidence to assess its nutritional quality and food functionality.

The PhD student will gain hands-on experience in assessing the nutritional, functional and sensory properties of Australian native fruits. The student will also develop skills in food chemistry, nutrition, sensory science, statistical evaluation and botanical research. The project seeks to develop a strong and capable future leader for the Australian native food industry.

ITTC stipend PhD: $33,413 AUD per annum tax-free, indexed annually, for three years with the possibility of two 6-month extensions in approved circumstances. Tuition scholarship also available.

Funding Notes

Applicants will have a First Class Honours degree or equivalent. Basic expertise and experience is required in one or more of the following areas: chemistry, nutrition, biochemistry, food science, plant science, botany or related discipline.

Strong academic performance demonstrated through publication output in peer reviewed international journals is highly desirable.

All applicants MUST respond to the selection criteria (above) in your application cover letter.

Specifically detail: 1) your experience and expertise in chemical analysis 2) Your experience and/or interest in adding value Indigenous plant foods and, 3) your experience working with industry clients and/or remote communities.


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