Master’s student in Food Science wins Brian Koeppen Memorial Scholarship
Itumeleng Magabane, a second-year MScAgric student in Food Science and Technology at the University of Pretoria was recently awarded the Brian Koeppen Memorial scholarship of the South African Association for Food Science and Technology (SAAFoST).
‘Receiving this award is such an incredible honour and I am humbled by the recognition. This award is not only important to me, but also to my supervisors and the Department as a whole. Getting your research noticed and credited creates an incredible feeling of worth and motivation to achieve even greater things. I am grateful to SAAFoST for the award, Prof Elna Buys for the nomination and finally, Prof John Taylor and Dr Janet Taylor (all from the Department of Food Science) for their brilliant research supervision’, Itumeleng says.
Itumeleng’s research particularly focuses on cereal science and food chemistry. Her research project is on gluten-free bread development with sorghum, which is an underutilised cereal grain in Africa. She states: ‘I work with dough improvement techniques and the chemistry behind it. We have had the opportunity to work with sorghum varieties with improved protein quality, with greater essential amino acids content and improved digestibility.’
She explains: ‘By using these bio-fortified cereal grains, we aim to improve the quality of gluten-free bread, whilst also tackling sensitive nutrition related problems such as protein-energy malnutrition. With the current high dependence on wheat for bread and the high wheat import prices, it is absolutely necessary and urgent for food scientists to shift more towards alternative cereal grains.’
She was recently selected as a finalist for the McKinsey ‘Next Generation Women Leaders’ award and she has also been a member of the Golden Key International Honor Society since 2014.
Itumeleng concludes by saying: ‘Enrolling for a degree in Food Science in 2012 was one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life. It has exposed me to so much knowledge; knowledge that is much needed, along with a passion of course, for someone who aims to be an active participant in a better South Africa. I believe even the scientists are just as important in getting us a step closer to that vision.’
– Author Martie Meyer