Doctor of Philosophy candidate
Bachelor of Science (Honours) (First Class)
Bachelor of Science in Chemistry
His curiosity about different foods sparked his interest in food science, says Ye Liu who came to AUT as an international student from China and is now enrolled in a PhD.
“I enjoy trying different foods and that has piqued my interest in food processing, especially the non-thermal processing of fruits and vegetables.
“I first came to AUT when I transferred into the third year of the Bachelor of Science in Chemistry, and then decided to enrol in the honours degree and now the PhD to further my understanding of food science. I’m interested in improving the nutritive value of food products through the development of new food products and employing novel processing methods.”
He wouldn’t hesitate to recommend AUT’s food science programmes to other students, says Ye who plans to work as a food technologist or researcher in New Zealand once he completes his doctoral degree.
“I’d definitely recommend studying food science at AUT because the academic staff here are all very hardworking, thoughtful and passionate about their research.”
Exploring minimally processed fruit products
For his PhD research, Ye is focusing on the effects of pulsed electric field treatment to pre-process freeze-dried apricots.
“Apricots are one of the most popular fruits in the world due to their nutritional value, unique flavour and vivid colour. However, apricots are a seasonal fruit and highly perishable. Freeze drying can maintain the food quality, but there is the issue of high running cost. Studies have shown that pulsed electric field treatment can decrease drying time.
“My PhD research therefore combines various pulsed electric field pre-treatments with freeze drying to understand the effects on apricot quality in terms of chemical composition, bioactive components, flavour and sensory characteristics. I enjoy carrying out the sensory evaluation of foods, and had the opportunity to work with the hospitality team at AUT who brought their culinary expertise to evaluate the pulsed electric field treated freeze dried apricot samples I produced.”
His goal is to develop minimally processed New Zealand fruit products to meet consumer demands for healthy and convenient foods, says Ye whose research is being supervised by Professor Nazimah Hamid from AUT’s School of Science.
Opportunities for budding researchers
Ye – who is from Ningde in China’s Fujian province – has enjoyed the many opportunities he had access to at AUT.
“I was fortunate to be able to present my research at the 4th International Symposium on Phytochemicals in Medicine and Food in Xi'an, China, and also attended the poster section of the 14th Pangborn Sensory Science Symposium. Together with my research colleagues, I also had an article on consumers’ perception of in-vitro meat published in the journal Sustainability, with two more research publications currently in progress.”
He has also enjoyed sharing his understanding of VR software with other science researchers to help them with their project.
“I enjoy playing virtual reality games and am familiar with various VR software. Professor Nazimah Hamid was interested in using VR in one her other PhD students’ projects on sensory evaluation, however there was a problem related to the software.
“I was able to recommend software that resolved this problem, and am currently also involved in this research project. This opportunity has further sparked my passion for sensory evaluation, and I look forward to increasing my skills in this important area of food science.”