Research Scientist, AgResearch
Doctor of Philosophy
Master of Science with First Class Honours
Dr Renyu (Frank) Zhang was studying for his applied chemistry degree in China when he became curious about the work of his food science colleagues. They inspired him to want to learn about the industry, so when Frank came to New Zealand for postgraduate study he used the opportunity to focus on food chemistry.
“I got the offer to study at AUT and I was happy because I could reorient my direction towards food research. I like food, I enjoy eating food, and I’m interested in getting to know the science behind food and how to make it better.”
Frank - who graduated from AUT in July 2021 and was on the dean's honours roll - says AUT is full of friendly people, and the university has an active and diverse culture.
“When I walked around the AUT City Campus, my day was lit up when I saw the energetic students and staff walking by with smiles and confidence. It was also quite easy for me to search for help there.”
Pathway to a PhD
Frank long thought obtaining a PhD and becoming a Dr was a stretch too far to achieve – until he met his master’s research supervisor Dr Michelle Yoo.
“I started my postgraduate study at AUT and obtained a Master of Science with first class honours in food science. During my master’s degree, Dr Yoo discovered my potential as a scientist and encouraged me to continue into PhD study.
“The reason I decided to continue to study science, do research and develop new products is that it has become my passion. Thanks to my studies, I know about myself and will put my best efforts into my interests.”
For Frank, AUT offered the perfect environment for his doctoral studies.
“AUT is the place to obtain extensive knowledge, improve yourself, chase your dream and stay happy. The scholarship provided by AUT through the Performance Based Research Fund has also given me a lot of support throughout my PhD study.”
Sharing his passion
While he was at AUT, Frank had a number of opportunities to present his research on the international stage and he says he would without a doubt recommend AUT’s science programmes to others.
“I represented AUT and showcased my PhD work at the International Congress of Meat Science and Technology (ICoMST) in Melbourne, Australia, with one oral and one poster presentation in 2018 and in Berlin, Germany, with three poster presentations in 2019. ICoMST is the high-impact annual conference for meat scientists.”
As a scientist in the meat biochemistry area at the New Zealand Crown Institute AgResearch Ltd, Frank enjoys applying his what he has learnt. His focus is on improving meat quality and researching new products to ensure consumers are healthy and happy.
“Food is a natural medicine. Developing a good food product that can really help consumers stay healthy and happy, without sacrificing the enjoyment of eating, that’s my goal.”