Food Scientist, iMonitor
Master of Science (Research)
Bachelor of Science in Chemistry
He loves being part of an innovative team that continuously works to improve food safety and quality, says science alumnus Shakeel Ahmed who is now a food scientist at iMonitor.
“We strategically tackle big picture problems to create solutions that solve real problems on the ground level. The problems range from improving food safety practices, to developing visibility and traceability in food production, and improving data integrity across the food and pharma industries.
“The core of my role is research and developing concepts and proof of concept solutions to address problem sets in the New Zealand food manufacturing industry. The R&D work is then handed over to engineering teams to build a more comprehensive solution that can be adopted by the industry. I also extensively liaise with different stakeholders within the food and pharmaceutical industries, including industry partners and regulatory bodies.”
Since joining iMonitor in 2015, he has had a number of achievements he is particularly proud of.
“I’ve had the privilege of working with great teams that have equipped me for success. I’ve also been able to publish multiple research papers examining innovations for the food industry, received an award for building innovative products, and was commended by the Ministry of Primary Industries and the New Zealand Institute of Food Science and Technology for my contribution to food safety.”
The freedom to explore
For Shakeel, the first step towards the rewarding career he has now was enrolling at AUT to study science.
“I initially started at AUT with the Bachelor of Medical Laboratory Science, but during my studies I switched to the Bachelor of Science in Chemistry when I realised that I excelled at chemistry. A few years after completing my bachelor’s degree and starting my career, I came back to AUT for my Master of Science (Research) because I really wanted to work with Professor Owen Young.”
He was impressed by the supervisors he had throughout his master’s degree.
“I found my supervisors’ way of supervising my thesis very compelling. Professor Owen Young was very encouraging on all aspects of the project, and his food science lectures helped us understand the ‘why’ of food, chemically speaking. Dr John Robertson’s analytical chemistry lectures helped us grasp the ‘how’ to test and extract the chemicals we were interested in.
“During my master’s degree, AUT and Owen allowed me to design the objectives for my research. He gave me the freedom to explore innovations in current research and methodologies, and nurtured the thought process on how academic vigour and commercial viability can be achieved; a practice that has been critical in my role since graduating.”
Advice for other students
Shakeel’s advice for other students is simple: the journey of learning never ends.
“My advice for future graduates would be to continue working and learning at AUT after you’ve graduated. My journey with AUT certainly didn’t end when I completed my studies. I’ve continued working closely with AUT to explore innovations with the food science and data science departments.”
He would highly recommend postgraduate study in science.
“The Master of Science (Research) by its nature is structured very flexibly, enabling students to thoroughly research the problem, design a study and procure results. It also gave me the flexibility to work on three different projects before settling into the industry project I eventually wrote my thesis on.”