School of Biosciences
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Tim Foster

Professor in Food Structure, Faculty of Science


  • workRoom B29 Food Sciences
    Sutton Bonington Campus
    Sutton Bonington
    LE12 5RD
  • work0115 951 6246


I am married with one 23 year old son. My Interests include playing and also coaching sport (ECB Level 1 Coach), cooking & enjoying family life.

Expertise Summary

During his time in Unilever Tim lead the Biopolymers research group (1996-2003), the Product Microstructure group in Vlaardingen (2002) and the department of Delivery of Actives (2003-2005), was a New Technology project leader (1998-2003) and served on the Colworth Management Group (2002), Vlaardingen Food Management Team (2002), the Food Research Centre Science Team (2003-2005) and co-chaired the Unilever Food and Health Research Institute Research Strategy Group (2005-2007). He departed Unilever in 2007 when in the role of Senior Scientist Food Structural Design.

Teaching Summary

Teaching into numerous UG and PG taught modules.

Research Summary

Expertise in microstructure design through understanding the interplay between ingredients and process, so that the final microstructure is stable / functional in storage, in-use, in-digestion...

This requires an in-depth knowledge of ingredient structure-functionality, how ingredients mix for optimal performance and how such mixtures are influenced in typical production process environments.

Such an understanding then allows design rules for ingredient interchangeability, ingredient improvement and novel functionalities.

Since joining the University in 2007 many post docs and post graduate researchers funded by the University, Regional Development Agency, EU, Research Councils, InnovateUK and Industry have helped make progress in structure functionality of polysaccharides such as xanthan and cellulose. Patent opportunities have been established and are currently under exploitation, with one innovation winning the IChemE Award for Innovation and Excellence in the Food and Drink area in 2009. Collaboration with a number of Universities around Europe have helped build a presence in novel structuring routes with cellulose. Additional collaboration with Loughborough University has developed a technology for controlling body hydration through food structuring technologies. Recent success has seen the development of the EPSRC Centre of Innovative Manufacturing in Food (a collaboration between Nottingham, the University of Birmingham and Loughborough University: £5.6m), which has worked with a wide range of Industry partners, more than doubling the research income.

Tim currently sits on the University of Nottingham Leadership Teams of the School of Biosciences (as the Head of Division of Food Sciences) and the Future Food Beacon of Excellence. He is also on the management team of the Food Process Engineering strategy group and the Agriculture and Food Secuity Research Priority area.

Tim represents the University as a Trustee and Director of the Food Hydrocolloids Trust and a committee member of the Gums and Stabilisers for the Food Industry biennial conference, is an Executive Board member of the European Polysaccharide Network of Excellence Business and Industry Club, and CSA, on the KTN Food Strategy Group, and is external examiner to University College Cork.

Tim sits on the Editorial Boards of' Food Hydrocolloids', has just completed a term as an Associate Editor of 'Food and Function', is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry and Director of the EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacture in Food.

Recent Publications

Past Research

Post graduate work in structure-functionality of xanthan gum, and structuring with plant cell wall materials provided a springboard for group leadership of the Unilever Biopolymers group, contributing to developments in ice cream, spreads and cream products (10 granted patents). Project leadership, Science area leadership and Department Director roles lead to a final role of Senior Scientist for food structuring in Unilever, responsible for coordinating TIFN projects, ETP Food for Life strategic research agenda development and initiating Unilever's contribution to BBSRC's DRINC.

Future Research

Recent interest is in the areas of natural structuring agents, rehydration phenomena, microstructure changes in physiological environments and targeted / controlled release.

School of Biosciences

University of Nottingham
Sutton Bonington Campus
Nr Loughborough
LE12 5RD, UK

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