Food and nutrition are vital to health and welfare and our research addresses key governmental and societal priorities in the twenty-first century such as ageing, obesity, food production and food security.
Our research covers a broad spectrum – from molecular studies, addressing links between nutrition and genes, through to research on diet and public health. Many of our studies address these issues from differing viewpoints. For example, work on food quality explores both consumer and producer perspectives including aspects of sensory evaluation, consumer acceptability and the effects of agronomic and production environments on nutrient and phytochemical composition of food. Our interest in the biochemistry of foods extends to pharmacology through the study of medicinal properties of plants.
Many of our projects draw on the expertise of staff and researchers who are based in different parts of the University, and the University’s Human Nutrition Research Centre (HNRC) facilitates this cross-disciplinary work. It is quite usual for scientists, nutritionists and social scientists from research institutes in the Faculty of Medical Sciences and the School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development to combine their expertise and work together.
As a research student you will be based in one of our research institutes or schools and be supervised by research-active staff. Depending on your topic, you may be involved in running laboratory trials (molecular analyses, assays, animal studies), human intervention trials, or testing perceptions and attitudes through sensory testing and/or questionnaire-based surveys. You will also have access to specialist equipment and facilities appropriate to your area of study. The seminar series, and events such as the HNRC annual research day, enable you to meet up with other students, present papers and discuss your ideas and research questions.
These discussions enable you to draw on the experience of different UK, EU and international students who are involved in related research and come from different subject backgrounds such as biochemistry, biology, biomedical sciences, physiology, microbiology, genetics and molecular biology.
Our research in food and human nutrition also feeds into the modules and research projects available to students on our MSc and MRes programmes. The MSc in Medicinal Plants and Functional Foods draws on expertise from across the University and covers the development cycle for medicinal plants and functional foods – from identifying the plants in the field, to isolating the bioactive components in the lab and developing new medicines and nutritional foods. Selected food and human nutrition modules may also be available to students on the MSc in Advanced Food Marketing. Research projects in the area of molecular nutrition can be undertaken as a component of the MRes programmes in Ageing, and Biosciences, Medical Sciences and Medical and Molecular Biosciences.