UCSI University to Represent Malaysia in the 14th ASEAN Food Conference
Research into the oil from the kenaf seed plant captured the judges’ attention and saw Food Science student Cheong Ai Mun of
UCSI University (UCSI) win the first prize for the 9th MIFT Food Science and Technology Seminar held on the 21-22 March 2015.
She will now represent the country in competing with some of the brightest minds in the region during the upcoming 14th ASEAN Food Conference. UCSI is the first private institution of higher learning to win this honour.
Cheong’s research is titled, ‘Optimisation of ternary emulsifier mixtures with improved physical stability properties of kenaf (Hibiscus cannabinus L.) seed oil-in-water nanoemulsions’. The kenaf seed oil is rich in antioxidants and bioactive compounds which are beneficial to human health.
However, extracts from the kenaf seed is in an oil form and it is not easily digested by humans. Cheong’s research focuses on creating a formulation for the oil that makes it easily dissolvable and stable (the mixture will not separate into oil and water components).
Edging out participants from 13 other public and private universities, Cheong expressed her appreciation to UCSI and her research supervisor Asst Prof Dr Nyam Kar Lin for the guidance and support.
“My advantage in this competition is that I was able to answer questions from the judges about my research. This is thanks to the university and my supervisor who pushed me to go beyond my comfort zone,” she said with a smile.
Currently pursuing UCSI’s MSc Applied Sciences, by Research, the win also reaffirmed her decision to leave her job at a leading
global food and beverage company to venture in research.
“The pay and benefits were great, but the research and development (R&D) work was not as detailed and my passion was in research,” she said, adding that the scholarship she received from UCSI made her dream possible.
She is expecting to complete her master’s qualification this year before continuing with UCSI’s Doctorate of Philosophy (Science).
Both she and her supervisor, Asst Prof Dr Nyam will be flying off to the Philippines on the 24-26 June to present her research and compete among some of the brightest minds in ASEAN.
UCSI was also well represented during the other competitions in the 9th MIFT Food Science and Technology Seminar. UCSI University students bagged second places in the Innovative Food Product Development Competition, the Oratory Competition, and the Postgraduate Poster Competition.
UCSI’s entry for the Food Product Development Competition was Cofalle – an instant pasta that was made from all natural ingredients that got its unique colours from plants such as the screwpine (pandan) leaf, beetroot, and carrot. The group consisted of Carine Lim Shu Shien, Christian Nathaniel, Elaine Lee Yi Lin, Marvin Supriatin, Mak Sook Yan, Sarah Byuti Cendana, Shamni A/P Rama Krishnan, Wan Pik Ki, Wong Shi Tian and Woo Keat Li, all of whom are pursuing the BSc (Hons) Food Science with Nutrition degree at UCSI University.
According to Nathaniel, the experience was a holistic one as they were involved in every aspect of food development –
from formulation to market pitching.
For the Oratory Competition, participants were given 10 titles related to food science and technology. A few minutes before their turn, the participants were informed of the topic that they should speak on for 10 minutes.
Sarah Byuti Cendana, a third year BSc (Hons) Food Science with Nutrition student, was given the topic ‘Liquid Nitrogen is Widely Used in Molecular Gastronomy. Should this be controlled?’
Her eloquence and interaction with the audience won over the judges.
“I want a career that is interactive – either a nutrition consultant or a teacher. So this competition is good training ground,” she said.
Making UCSI’s presence felt in the Postgraduate Poster Competition was Ghan Sheah Yee who is pursuing the MSc Applied Sciences, by Research. Her poster focused on her research ‘Antioxidant Interaction between Agarwood (Aquilaria Crassna) Young Leaves Crude Extracts and a-Tocopherol in Different Model Systems’.
Her research focused on the analysing the anti-oxidant properties of agarwood – known locally as gaharu – leaves.
This is part of a bigger research project on agarwood that is funded by UCSI’s research arm – the Centre of Excellence for Research, Value Innovation.
The event was attended by Senior Professor Dato’ Dr Khalid Yusoff – vice-chancellor and president of UCSI, Dr Siti Noorbaiyah – president of the Malaysian Institute of Food Technology, Prof Dr Teoh Kok Soo – deputy vice-chancellor, Academic Affairs and Support, Assoc Prof Dr Chan Hor Kuan – dean, Faculty of Applied Sciences and Sunny Koh, the deputy president of the Singapore Food Manufacturing Association.
The seminar was lauded by Senior Prof Dato’ Dr Khalid, who pointed that the competition provided an ideal platform for students to think of the latest global food concerns that are not limited to food security but should also include nutritional security.
“How do we provide food that is popular and nutritious, and contributes to the health of the people, and not the detriment of them?” he said, adding that it was the participants’ role to look into this and provide solutions that matter.
UCSI University is famous for the applied science courses and is the first private university in Malaysia to offer the Food Science degree. UCSI University is the best university in Malaysia to study Food Science.
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