Rahul Permal

Rahul Permal

Doctor of Philosophy candidate
Bachelor of Science (Honours)
Bachelor of Science in Food Science

Avocadoes and avocado oil continue to increase in popularity. But how can we reduce the amount of waste when producing avocado oil? That’s the interesting question AUT food science student Rahul Kaushik Permal is exploring through his PhD research.

“My research is focused on converting by-products of cold pressed avocado oil – mainly seeds, skin, pulp and waste water – into functional ingredients. This research could make a difference in the food industry, as demand for avocado oil has drastically increased over the past few years.

“For every 100 kg of avocado oil, 350 kg of waste skin and seeds, 220 kg of waste avocado pomace and 620 kg of waste water is generated. These by-products are full of antioxidant, antifungal, antimicrobial and flavouring ingredients, and finding ways to use these could dramatically decrease the industry’s environmental impact and increase profitability,” says Rahul whose research is supervised by Dr Rothman Kam.

Academic excellence and support
He would recommend studying science at AUT to other students, Rahul says.

“I enjoyed my Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Science (Honours) so much that I ultimately decided to continue further and extend my research by enrolling into the Doctor of Philosophy offered at AUT.

“AUT provides one of the most supportive and encouraging environments for postgraduate study, and we have a vast range of equipment and facilities to use and access. The academic staff and technicians are all experts in their field and provide excellent guidance, going out of their way to help any student who needs assistance.”

Once he finishes his doctoral degree, Rahul is planning to continue doing research in the field of food science or pursue a career in the area of product development.

Developing the confidence to succeed
While he is now a successful emerging researcher, Rahul admits that his university journey has not always been smooth.

“I was initially at another university where I didn’t enjoy the atmosphere and wasn’t making much progress. After two years, I finally made the decision to move to AUT. The first thing I noticed about AUT was the welcoming environment. It’s AUT’s culture, supportive community and amazing staff that come together in harmony to create this magnificent atmosphere.”

Don’t be afraid to ask questions, Rahul advises other students.

“When I first came to AUT I realised that my main problem was that I wouldn’t approach people for help; something that AUT encourages every student to do.

“The lecturers at AUT always reinstate that ‘no question is a silly question’. I took this very seriously and approached lecturers every opportunity I could. I can say with 100% certainty that if I hadn’t come to AUT I would never have regained my confidence or pursued my love for science.”