OUR STUDENTS | Fight Food Waste CRC
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OUR STUDENTS

A lively and engaging education and training program is essential in attracting and retaining the best new students for the long-term benefit of the Australian food industry. Our students benefit from scholarship stipends, operational funding and participation in the Future Leaders Program run by Central Queensland University and KPMG. This program is designed to build skills in research translation and research leadership and it is designed to deliver candidates who are industry-ready.

You can hear from our students on our YouTube channel >>

RUBY CHAN

Ruby joined the Fight Food Waste CRC in 2019 as the PhD student with the Save Food Packaging Criteria and Framework project in the REDUCE program. Ruby’s research project will explore the role primary food packaging plays in preventing/reducing domestic food waste. The impact goal is that companies will be better equipped to design primary food packaging that encourages consumers to waste less food. The working title of her PhD is Integrating Save Food Packaging Criteria into New Product Development Processes.

Ruby has a passion for environmentally conscious design and research that induces positive change. Before joining the CRC, Ruby worked as a university research assistant in the space of food waste. In 2017 Ruby won the Green Innovators Award at the National Sustainable Living Festival for her plant-based compostable crockery innovation Moducware, for which she also presented the TEDx talk “The Environmental Takeaway”.

Ruby Chan is an emerging Designer and Innovator. Building on her industrial design background, Ruby completed a Master’s in Design Innovation and Technology in 2016. Ruby graduated with Distinction and was awarded the RMIT Vice-Chancellor’s List Award for Academic Excellence for finishing in the top 2% of all higher education students in the university.

In her personal time, Ruby enjoys cooking, craft-work, and creating things from discarded objects.  Her mantra of “Valuing the Undervalued” feeds a hobby for upcycling.

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ROLAND SOMLAI

Roland started as a PhD student with the DIRECT Commercialisation project in November 2019, and his research topic is ‘Integrating decision support tools into organisations for food waste strategies’ focuses on how to embed tools within organisations to facilitate food waste reductions. The findings are expected to increase efficiency on a sustainable food system, thus increasing the economic output of the nation.

Previously, Roland has worked as a senior GIS technician in Glasgow, Scotland, as well as African-based NGOs at the intersection of climate change and sustainable resource management. He graduated in Climate Justice from Glasgow Caledonian University. He chose to research various densification practices having been introduced to issues at the intersection of sustainability and urban growth. His research paper titled ‘Designing Glasgow for Eco-density: Towards a Framework to Urban Sustainability’ explores the role of eco-densification in delivering urban sustainability and highlights the potential for unintended consequences on the wider delivery of sustainable cities. This allowed him to build skills in the field of urban sustainability, urban sprawl, eco-density, superblocks, liveability, and affordable housing, as well as gain experience in research and analysis, project management and organisation, and networking.

Over his four years in the Irish food and beverage sector, this curiosity about sustainability developed. He learnt the importance of better resource management for food and coffee companies in dealing with food waste and losses, and to consider tradeoffs. In his position as PhD student with the DIRECT project, Roland’s research will continue to explore food loss and waste and the opportunities to enable businesses across the entire food supply chain to implement the tool to benchmark where food waste occurs. This PhD position offers an ambitious research potential which he is interested in.

Roland is passionate about traveling and broadening his perspective of the world. He calls Melbourne his new home where there is extensive green infrastructure, as well as beaches to visit and the internationally recognised art and cultural attractions.

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KHOULOUD KAMALMAZ

Khouloud commenced with the FFW CRC as a PhD student in January 2020 working with the REDUCE project to enhance Foodbank’s stakeholder engagement to reduce food waste. Currently, Foodbank’s food rescue activities are only meeting 60% of the demand of food insecure individuals. Moreover, given that the amount of food available is three times the food rescue industry’s capacity, there is a need to enhance this. Khouloud’s PhD project will explore ways to enhance the capacity of Foodbank’s food distribution, with a particular focus on charities and volunteers.

She has always been passionate about research. Upon completion of her undergraduate studies at the University of Sydney, she undertook an intense honours year exploring issues related to innovation. This helped shape her future goals and made her more passionate about pursuing a PhD that will contribute to social change. Khouloud has an excitement for volunteering and thus was drawn to this research project centred around enhancing Foodbank’s stakeholder engagement.

Khouloud is excited to be working on this project as part of the FFW CRC team in Sydney. The overall vision of the project is highly impactful, and she feels being one part of such a project is a great privilege. The team are incredibly passionate about the project, and the support, exposure and research scope is excellent.

Travel has always been an interest for Khouloud, to new areas and seeing different cultures. This journey is not finished for her yet. The international exposure has been eye opening as she reflects how differently each culture handles food waste. This has her always thinking about what she can be doing to fight food waste in Australia, even if it begins with small changes in her own home.

 

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TRANG NGUYEN

Trang started with the FFW CRC in 2020 as a PhD student working on the project WWW (What, Where and Why) of Household Food Waste Behaviour. Trang’s research is about understanding the behavioural and attitudinal determinants of consumer food waste in South Australia. The study aims to understand consumers’ food waste behaviour including what behaviours are associated with food waste, the characteristics of households who have greater food waste behaviour and the underlying factors driving food waste. The outcomes are expected to provide a better understanding of South Australian consumers’ food waste behaviours in order to inform strategies to address food waste.

Trang has research interests in agricultural and food system sustainability, especially within the context of climate change. Following her Master’s study and before commencing her PhD (2017-2019), Trang was working on projects related to food waste in the Asia-Pacific region. Specifically, she was based in Taiwan and worked for the project ‘Strengthening Private-Public Partnership to Reduce Food Losses in the Supply Chain’, funded by the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).

Her expertise, including capacity building in food waste research and the development of food waste measurement methods in different food categories (e.g. grain, meat, fruit, and vegetables), has created a solid foundation for her to continue on this research path at Centre for Global Food and Resources, The University of Adelaide.

Trang enjoys doing outdoor activities such as hiking, bicycling, and exploring nature in her spare time. She also likes reading about food innovations, business start-up ideas, and playing musical instruments.

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ESTHER LANDELLS

Esther joined FFW CRC in 2020 as a PhD student to be on board with the ENGAGE program looking at local government’s role in reducing household food waste. Esther will work on identifying the current barriers of government food waste programs then consequently, exploring the best way to build food waste reduction approaches with local governments.

Previously, Esther has worked extensively as a Waste Education Officer with various local government agencies and organisations, including City of Marion in South Australia and most recently, City of Melville in Western Australia. Esther’s passion for waste services has led her to develop multiple education programs for businesses and schools, successfully introduce the 3-bin systems to some city councils, and teach environmental studies to young students in many schools. She has presented her work at many conferences and her team has recently received the ‘2019 Communication Engagement Success of the Year Award’ at this year’s Waste and Resource Recovery Awards for their work at the City of Melville.

When at home, Esther’s family keeps up with the no-food-waste lifestyle and finds joy in breeding chickens, building compost and making worm farms. She is excited to be working on the ‘fight food waste’ cause and loves to explore more of beautiful Australia.

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LEE WILLIAMS

Lee joined at the start of 2021 in the TRANSFORM program. His research area will be to investigate and develop appropriate infrastructure solutions to apply the various waste transformation technologies in real world conditions to maximise benefits.

Lee has 30 years experience working as a professional engineer in the design and operation of heavy industrial equipment and pyro processing, and brings with him a good understanding of problem solving and development of novel and creative solutions. In addition, Lee is familiar with industry standard Safety-in-Design and HAZOP processes that can be applied to the adopted infrastructure.

During his professional career, Lee has been part of industrial waste handling and re-use projects, with the drivers always being commercial in nature. In some cases, the waste products from one industry have been recognised as a valuable resource for a completely separate industry, with synergies being developed between industries. Lee has a keen interest in the recognition of waste products as potential valuable resources, and has been encouraged by the recent recognition in Australia that landfills are a poor solution for most waste products. The FFW-CRC provides an excellent opportunity to collaborate with a like minded team of enthusiastic participants to effect positive community changes.

Outside of work and study, Lee is a keen cyclist and runner, and he competes in Masters events as part of the University of Queensland cycling club. He also enjoys travelling and immersing himself in different cultures to experience a range of differing perspectives.

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MIKE WALSH

Mike will be completing his PhD with FFW CRC, entitled, ‘Smart Compost Formulations to benefit crops, soil, and the Circular Economy’. His PhD will address three major themes (i) waste transformation into products of value, (ii) phosphorus efficiency and sovereignty, and (iii) agricultural sustainability. These themes intersect at compost and present an opportunity to Transform the inevitable generation of organic wastes into commercial products using novel methods and biotechnology. Mike’s project also includes the biofortification of food waste compost using inorganic recycled phosphorus materials (recyclates) in conjunction with characterised phosphorus solubilising rhizobacteria to develop Smart Compost Formulations. He intends to develop and use stabilised and enhanced phosphatases to breakdown biologically resilient phosphorus found in organic wastes to increase nutrient content and availability.

Mike has a Master of Food Science and Technology and is currently a Field Technician with Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAFFI) doing GMO trials. Studying Food Science gave Mike a real appreciation of ‘nutritious foods’ and their fundamental role in Australia’s high quality of life. Joining the FFW CRC team will allow Mike to research methods to sustain this high standard through advancing agricultural practise. Currently, global challenges place our fertiliser sovereignty and therefore agricultural industry in jeopardy. Developing strategies which help Australia become nutrient autonomous through recycling and using sustainable production methods is essential for our continued prosperity.

Mike grew up living on acreage, where his family would (and still does) compost their landscape and food waste, using their compost to feed their vegetable garden and fruit trees! Although he now lives in an apartment, Mike collects his food waste in a composting bucket which is given to the locally run and operated composting site. Mike and his supervisor are now involved with larger composting facilities to help them improve their composting quality and methods (UQ and Yandina composting facility).

Mike is a recipient of the Ivor A. Gill Memorial Scholarship in Agriculture Science from University of Queensland and we are thrilled to welcome him to the FFW CRC student family!

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JO BUCKMAN

Jo joined Fight Food Waste CRC in May 2020 as a Master’s student in the ENGAGE program. She will complete the Masters program part-time whilst continuing to work within the Australian food industry. Jo’s research will identify data driven insights which underpin the development of interventions, including communication strategies, to reduce household food waste. It is envisaged the outcomes will be applied by food retailers and directed towards targeted household segments to encourage behavior changes that ultimately help reduce food waste.

Jo holds undergraduate degrees in Nutrition and Marketing and has worked in the food industry for 20 years in Australia, the United Kingdom and Hong Kong. She has experience in public health multi-sectorial collaborations which have representation from academia, industry, professional medical societies and non-government bodies. She believes businesses, as part of society, have a responsibility to contribute to the well-being of people and the planet in sympathy with their commercial endeavors.

As a Nutritionist, Jo is interested the amount of nutrition forfeited in food waste and the inequality that exists in society with those who suffer poor nutritional health and limited access to food. She is thrilled to be working with her Supervisors (Mark Barthel and David Pearson), industry partner (Woolworths) and to be part of a program that encourages further professional development and connections with other researchers. Jo enjoys spending time with her husband and children, reading, and travelling.

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ROANNA JONES

Roanna joined the TRANSFORM program in March 2020. She is passionate about environmental sustainability and has a strong interest in innovative waste management technologies, particularly biorefining processes. Roanna is a chemical process engineer and scientist and also has a background in psychology.

Roanna’s PhD aims to support Australian growers and manufacturers, to manage their fruit and vegetable losses in an economically and environmentally sustainable way. She is curious about the waste hierarchy and how biorefining can be best incorporated into food waste management frameworks. She applies techno-economic assessments and life cycle analyses to determine the feasibility of several waste management technologies. This research will culminate in a framework that supports industries, when making decisions about managing fruit and vegetable losses.

Roanna was introduced to biorefining processes in her second year of university, which piqued her interest, due to the intersection between technology, biology and environmental sustainability. She approached her lecturer to learn more and ended up with holiday work experience, which led to a research assistant role for the next 3 years, while completing her degree. She worked on several projects, including modelling a fermentation process that produced microbial oil for advanced biofuels and the production of bioplastics and probiotics from agricultural wastes and by-products.

In her spare time, Roanna is a part time Sustainability Project Officer at QUT and supports QUT’s Green Champions group. She is also a university tutor and volunteers as a Young Science Ambassador with Wonder of Science. She enjoys gardening (especially growing food), travelling, video games, reading and going on walks with her partner and rescue greyhound.

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ERIN MCDONNELL

Erin commenced working with the Fight Food Waste CRC by joining the #TooGoodToThrow – Foodie Bag project for her honour’s thesis in the Bachelor of Design (Industrial Design) program at RMIT. The project explores how to divert plate waste from landfill by encouraging diners to take their leftovers with them. By applying both research and design processes, the outcome goal is to change the perceived value of leftover food and empower diners to make more sustainable choices with their waste. Erin is currently developing the project further as a Masters student with the Fight Food Waste CRC.

As an emerging designer, Erin has discovered a passion for sustainable design and the pursuit of knowledge to create a better future. She enjoys applying an empathetic approach to problem solving to create artifacts and experiences that benefit users and enhance their interactions with the world around them.

Having come from a craft background, Erin began her journey into design by completing an Associate Degree in Furniture Design in 2017. Erin was awarded the RMIT Vice-Chancellor’s List Award for Academic Excellence as well as the Erik Romoke Award for academic excellence upon graduating.

A self professed homebody, she loves the everyday pleasures of spending time with the animals at her farm or in the garden. In her spare time she enjoys exploring new craft skills, watching films, going to art exhibitions and swimming.

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LYNNE LOO

Lynne joined the CRC in March 2021 and will be working on waste and supply chain mapping in the Australian wild harvest abalone industry. Her research aims to use the mapping to define supply chain interventions and identify opportunities (practical or theoretical) to increase profitability and reduce food waste (e.g. finding potential product uses for the shell and shucking waste).

This is Lynne’s first research project in an academic setting, having had practical experience in administration and business operations, most recently in the social outreach sector, doing administration and business research for projects that assist charitable and outreach organisations in reaching their strategic goals.  She also has a small side venture making and supplying hot sauce and spicy snacks, wholesale and retail. It was partly this venture that opened Lynne’s eyes to the huge issue of waste in the food and hospitality industries.

Lynne has always been fascinated by the idea of turning waste into something useful and compelled by how sustainable food production methods might be scaled commercially and/or become mainstream. It was through a combination of luck and seeking out the opportunity to undertake research into these interests that she was connected to her supervisors, one of whom (Dr Janet Howieson) was already working with the FFW CRC.  Lynne is thrilled to be working with like-minded people, passionate about solving a huge problem in innovative ways.

Prior to reaching business/research, Lynne won awards in classical music performance, having studied music as an undergraduate prior to entering postgraduate business studies. She also loves cooking, knitting (while watching Seinfeld), reading, bushwalking, beach swims, gardening and road. Lynne also has for years been near obsessed with her worm farm and bokashi bin. It is a running joke in her family that she has many babies – all of them worms!

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HANNAH CHURTON

Hannah joined the CRC in February 2021 and is aligned with the TRANSFORM program. Hannah’s PhD will be examining the policy and regulatory frameworks that govern the food waste industry and identifying the opportunities and barriers that these frameworks present. Her research will identify policy, legislative and regulatory interventions that would serve to maximise the industries’ potential.

In her previous life, she was a public servant and diplomat, working on Australia’s international development and foreign policy. While the link seems tenuous, Hannah firmly believes that all roads lead to food waste! In 2018 she established a side hustle, The Worm Monger, an educational platform dedicated to helping people better manage food waste in their own homes. The Worm Monger also consults on organic waste management to businesses, councils, schools and communities.

Hannah describes herself as “a compost tragic and enthusiastic trash talker!” Helping people reframe food ‘waste’ as a valuable resource through The Worm Monger has driven her to reframe what’s valuable in her own life and it’s clear her passion lies in compost. Her professional and academic background as a policy adviser and anthropologist will lend itself well to helping Australia transform its food waste industry.

It’s no surprise that Hannah is an avid gardener, composter and worm farmer. She runs a community compost hub and shared street garden that turns the compost the community creates into the food that it eats. She is also interested in how to best minimise food waste before it even gets to the compost bin through cooking, pickling, fermenting and regrowing. Despite that noble goal – Hannah creates much more food waste than ideal on account of her other great passion – two tiny girls who love to leave a meal unfinished, and who are, incidentally, the biggest driving factor to contributing to a better, greener world! 

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DANICA JOBSON

Danica joined the CRC in 2020 as a Masters student with the ENGAGE program. Her research project will explore ways to reduce household food waste through behaviour change interventions, from multidisciplinary perspectives. Using mixed methods research, the project aims to identify policy interventions that encourage and assist individuals to adopt more socially responsible behaviours.

Danica currently works as a Research Executive at a social and market research company in Surry Hills, and is a member of the Australian Market and Social Research Society (AMSRS). To name a few, Danica works on projects across environmental and agricultural industries, travel and tourism, and health and wellbeing, looking at customer segmentation, brand strategy and marketing, and developing consumer insights. Undertaking work for industry, local, state and federal levels of government, she thoroughly enjoys the diversity of projects she is involved in, and the opportunity to learn about different topics, speak to different people and hear different perspectives. Danica is passionate about sustainability and would like to inspire others to reduce their environmental footprint.

In her spare time, Danica is a volunteer and the charity Secretary of Street Growth, an inner-city community garden that aims to improve the lives of individuals experiencing homelessness and disadvantage through community engagement and gardening, by promoting social responsibility and green practices such as minimising food waste through composting and worm farms.

A sense of adventure and passion for nature, art and culture, means that Danica is always dreaming of the next hiking adventure or international travel destination.

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Jack Hetherington

JACK HETHERINGTON

More and more there are tools that have the ability to help businesses identify potential food waste ‘hotspots’ in their operation. However, what they do with this information is not fully known. Contributing to the REDUCE program, Jack will be investigating the role decision support tools can play in helping businesses along the value chain to reduce waste. 

Jack has been working on international agricultural research projects for the past six years. Since 2017, he has been working at the Centre for Global Food and Resources (GFAR) at the University of Adelaide, supporting an agricultural research project called ‘IndoDairy’. This project, which is funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), aims to improve the milk supply, competitiveness and livelihoods of smallholder dairy chains in Indonesia. Through this project Jack had the opportunity to identify common challenges for stakeholders along the value chain and implement and evaluate win-win solutions. He is very keen to engage with industry and find these win-win solutions to food waste. Prior to working at GFAR, Jack worked at ACIAR where is was involved in a number of agribusiness research projects and the Mobile Acquired Data (MAD) initiative.  

Jack strongly believes that evidence and data should be guiding our decision making, especially government and the commercial sector. Without this data/information, we are flying blind! With the evolution of technology, more and more tools are becoming readily available to help individuals and organisations gather and process information to support their decision making. The Dynamic Industry Resource Efficiency Calculation Tool (DIRECT), which has been developed by RMIT, is an excellent example of a decision support tool for business in the food chain. The interesting thing for me is understanding how businesses use the information to make decisions and change their behaviour.   

The thing that really excites Jack about the Fight Food Waste CRC is the opportunity to work with a mix of individuals and organisations who are motivated to create change; improving the social, environmental and economic sustainability of our food systems.  

In addition to the generous support from the FFW CRC, Jack has also been awarded a Postgraduate Top-up Scholarship from CSIRO. He is looking forward to the support and wealth of knowledge from both the FFW CRC and CSIRO.  

Travelling has always been a passion of Jack. Although, after three bouts of self-isolation in 2020, Jack had a lot (A LOT!) of time to get some hobbies at home. So, in the last year Jack has tried his hand at construction, cooking, baking and gardening (some more successful than others). He even installed an in-ground worm farm for food scraps – the worms are still alive!  

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Shan Alagappan

SHAN ALAGAPPAN

Shan’s project is part of the TRANSFORM program and is titled ‘Optimising and industrialising black soldier fly (BSF) production – redirecting food waste to livestock feed production using insects’. The initial phase of the project involves rearing of BSF larvae on different types of food waste and evaluating the various safety issues associated with them. BSF larvae will then be subjected to different processing methods and, a suitable method along with the definition of processing requirements for BSF larvae to meet standards for feed safety will be established. The results from this project will guide the regulators in the drafting and approval of regulations for the use of BSF as feed ingredient. Regulatory approvals will increase the commercialisation potential of BSFL as waste up-cyclers thereby increasing the volume and number of waste streams processed with a subsequent decrease in landfill. 

Shan has previous experience as a research assistant in an Environmental Biotechnology laboratory during his undergraduate degree in Biotechnology at India and worked as a summer research scholar in QAAFI, UQ during his Masters in Food Science and Technology, receiving the ‘Deans Commendation for Academic Excellence’ during his study. 

Shan was drawn to FFW CRC after attending conference themed ‘Future Foods’ and was intrigued about the idea of valorising organic wastes with insects and the usage of such insects as food and feed source after attending one of the presentations. The summer research project at QAAFI helped identify a passion for sustainable food alternatives and drove Shan to choose a PhD project in the same discipline.   

Outside of work and research, Shan I loves listening to music and podcasts about sustainability in food systems, travelling and meet people from different cultural backgrounds, hiking, tennis and social sport.  

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