Innovation Challenge opportunities
The Future Food Beacon is pleased to announce opportunites within our two Innovation Challenge projects.
1. Palaeobenchmarking Resilient Agricultural Systems
We aim to understand how plants respond to climatic stress within their past, present, and projected agricultural systems considering the impact of environmental, biological, economic, and social variables towards improving productivity and sustainability of future agriculture.
2. The Future Proteins Platform
The overall aim of this project is to evaluate novel plant and non-plant protein sources and to develop the most suitable for animal feeds and/or human consumption.
PhD: Food recycling: Utilising food waste for valuable proteins
Supervisors: Asgar Ali (PI) (Biosciences, UNM), Le Cheng Foh (Biosciences, UNM), Tim Parr (Biosciences, UNUK)
Based in School of Biosciences, Semenyih, University of Nottingham Malaysia
Available to all applicants
Our proposal consists of three main objectives (i) To design and assess the efficiency of different pre-processing methods for protein release, (ii) To determine the efficiency of specific extraction methods on yields (iii) To purify and process the protein collected into the final forms.
The food wastes in consideration here are the expired and/or non-edible products from three main neglected sources: non-edible leguminous crops and meat and dairy products that are both rich in proteins. These raw materials can be obtained from the local markets, farms, food processing factories, and waste disposal/storage sites. These products will be sorted and pre-processed using a combination of physical (homogenisation, precipitation, boiling, and/or drying), chemical, and biochemical methods with optimised conditions to allow the release of proteins from the matrix for subsequent extractions. We will employ specific extraction methods such as solid-liquid extraction, Soxhlet extraction, microwave-assisted extraction, enzyme-assisted extraction, and others depending on the types of food wastes and its economic feasibility for up-scaling. Proteins will be further purified using the aqueous two-phase extraction method to remove impurities. Subsequently, the products will be collected, dehydrated, and processed into the desired forms (e.g. powder, pellet) to be used as food supplemental ingredients and high protein animal and fish feeds.
Since the raw materials are essentially costless, the high quality proteins obtained will be relatively cheap and incur no competition with the food for human consumption. The suitability of specific formulations of these feed ingredients will be further studied in chicken feeding experiments.
For further details, please contact Prof Asgar Ali firstname.lastname@example.org
MRes opportunity with Future Food Fellows
The Future Food Beacon is excited to announce opportunities for postgraduate study. Interested candidates can apply for a 12 month MRes in one of the Future Food Beacon disciplinary areas (Biosciences, Computer Science, Sensory Science). The MRes is a one-year, full-time research degree. Candidates will carry out a supervised research project, designed in collaboration with one of the Future Food Beacon Research Fellows. At the end of the year, candidates will submit a thesis for examination for an MRes award. The MRes offers an opportunity to bridge the gap between undergraduate study and PhD study and offers a unique opportunity to gain a taste of research at the postgraduate level.
Research stipend: £15,000 for 12 months.
Fees: Home/EU fees paid as part of the award.
These positions are open to Home/EU and International students. However, international students will need to find additional funding to cover the difference between Home/EU fees and International fees.
Interested candidates should contact the Future Food Fellows listed below directly.
Dr Gabriel Castrillo: Plant Microbiome
Gabriel Castrillo is a Nottingham Research Fellow in Plant Microbiome, and a member of the Future Food Beacon of Excellence. Gabriel’s research is focused on understanding how plants and microbes interact, in the context of nutrition. He examines how microbes help plants cope with nutritional deficiencies, and how the plant impacts the structure of the microbiome of the root, and the leaf. Gabriel joins UoN from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
Please contact Gabriel directly to discuss potential projects: email@example.com
Dr Sally Eldeghaidy: Studying brain reward systems using fMRI
An MRes Scholarship, funded by the Future Food Beacon at the University of Nottingham, is available with Dr Sally Eldeghaidy (Anne McLaren Research Fellow) for a highly motivated masters student who wishes to undertake a one-year research project.
The student will be working closely with Dr. Eldeghaidy in a very stimulating and multi-disciplinary research environment to optimize functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) methods to study brain reward systems. The reward system is a group of neural structures including amygdala, nucleus accumbens, hypothalamus, and prefrontal cortex. It is one of the most important systems in the brain, and it drives our behaviour towards pleasurable stimuli including food. However, the reward network is difficult to image due to their small size, proximity to tissue/air boundaries, and positional variability across individuals. For robust imaging of these areas imaging methods should be optimised. The goals of this scholarship are to optimise functional MR imaging at the 3T Ingenia scanner. This project will provide and validate fMRI imaging techniques, enabling the investigation of brain reward systems.
The student will acquire key skills for measuring and analysing functional MRI data and advance analysis methods, and will have multiple opportunities for personal and career development while working with the multi-disciplinary research teams at the Sir Peter Mansfield Imaging Centre at School of Physics and the Future Food Beacon at the School of Biosciences. During the MRes, the student will (i) optimise fMRI imaging techniques for reward network including the use of multi-band and multi-echo acquisitions, (ii) assess the signal to noise ratio (SNR), (iii) use the optimized imaging techniques to assess brain responses to food reward.
The student will be based at the Sir Peter Mansfield Imaging Centre at the University Park campus. Towards the end of the MRes project, there will also be a possibility of applying for further PhD studentship, subject to performance.
If you are interested in this opportunity, please send your CV and a brief statement including your research interests, motivation and goals to Sally.Eldeghaidy@nottingham.ac.uk.
For further information on Dr Sally Eldeghaidy’s research interests please visit https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/research/beacons-of-excellence/future-food/meet-the-beacon.aspx and https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/physics/people/sally.eldeghaidy
Dr Guillermina Mendiondo: How do crops see light?
An MRes Scholarship, funded by the Future Food Beacon at the University of Nottingham, is available with Dr Guillermina Mendiondo (Nottingham Research Fellow) for a highly motivated masters student who wishes to undertake a one-year research project.
How do crops see light?
Crops use light not only as an energy source but also as a signal that allows them to monitor their environment and neighboring plants. The model plant Arabidopsis thaliana possesses five light sensing phytochromes (phyA-phyE) with important roles in germination, seedling establishment, shade avoidance, and flowering. However, our understanding of the phytochrome signalling network is incomplete, and little is known about the individual roles of phytochromes and how they function cooperatively to mediate light responses. In addition, plants have developed adaptive mechanisms to integrate different environmental signals. Selective and conditional removal of regulatory proteins by ubiquitin-mediated targeted proteolysis is emerging as a major regulatory mechanism in biology, in particular in the sensing of environmental changes.
The N-degron pathway has been shown to be the mechanism that controls plant responses to flooding (Gibbs et al. 2011, Mendiondo et al. 2016), through oxygen-controlled degradation of ERFVII transcription factors, drought, salinity stress and plant defense (Vicente et al. 2019). Abbas et al. (2015) showed that this pathway is a key regulator of photo-morphogenesis. This work also showed a direct link between light and O2, the localization of the N-degron pathway regulated ERFVII transcription factors. A recent publication revealed that phyB plays a role as a temperature sensor in Arabidopsis (Legris et al. 2016). The mechanism behind this function is the temperature-dependent dark reversion (relaxation of the active Pfr form to the inactive Pr form) of the phyB photoreceptor.
The preliminary data generated by Dr Mendiondo on light response initiates the discussion on the mechanism that underlies this response in crops which could ultimately contribute to the production of varieties with better resilience to high intensity of light or high plant density in the field.
The student will have multiple opportunities for personal and career development while working with the multi-disciplinary research teams at the University of Nottingham and interacting with collaborators at University of Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Towards the end of the MRes project, there will also be a possibility of applying for a PhD studentship, subject to performance. The student will be based at our Sutton Bonington campus.
If you are interested in this opportunity, please send your CV and a brief statement including your research interests, motivation and goals to firstname.lastname@example.org
For further information about Dr Guillermina Mendiondo's research interests, please see: http://blogs.nottingham.ac.uk/futurefood/2019/03/06/meet-the-beacon-dr-guillermina-mendiondo/ and https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/biosciences/people/guillermina.mendiondo