Top Food Science student wins Aubrey Parsons Bursary
‘Nothing is impossible in life if you work hard.’ These were the words of an elated Kgomotso Dhlangamandhla, a fourth-year BScAgric student in Food Science and Technology at the University of Pretoria. She was recently awarded the Aubrey Parsons South African Association for Food Science and Technology (SAAFoST) bursary for academic excellence.
‘I am truly grateful for this bursary as my parents would not have been able to afford my studies. This year has been a year of multiple blessings and the fruit gained on my hard labour during my studies. At the beginning of the year I was surprised but honoured by the nomination by Prof Elna Buys, Chairperson of the Department of Food Science for the Audrey Parsons Study Grant, and it was a pleasant surprise when I received the e-mail confirming my successful application. This year has been a wave of blessings and amazing opportunities, because shortly before I received that news I received two invitations to conferences being held overseas namely, the International Food and Agribusiness Management Association (IFAMA) Conference hosted in Miami, Florida, USA, from 17 to 21 June , and the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) Conference hosted in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, from 25 to 28 June . I am really excited about both these opportunities and hope to honour the University of Pretoria Department of Food Science by being a good ambassador for the University.’
According to Kgomotso, her experience of the honours programme this year has been filled with exciting classes, group work, guest lecturers and research, all of these being new experiences. In her opinion the two main focus areas were the Food Product Development module and the research project. To her, these were both exciting modules. All product development groups were tasked to use the new rising star ingredient namely spent grain, a by-product in the production of commercial and craft beer, as well as in associated industries.
She explained that spent grain is the by-product of beer production and has recently been in the spotlight because of its high nutritional properties (high fibre, high protein, low fat). It has never before been used for anything other than animal feed. South African Breweries (SAB) came on board and provided the students with resources (spent grain and a cash budget for each team) to develop products aimed at human consumption. Kgomotso’s group decided to develop spent grain sugar cones for their development project. They found a suitable recipe and are in the process of performing tests. Her research project is titled: An investigation into the quality aspects and anti-oxidant properties of Bambara groundnut-grain composite biscuits, using wheat, maize and red sorghum. Although the empirical phase has yet to begin, the students are currently busy with seminar presentations, focusing on a section of the overall project as a step towards the final product.
Kgomotso is also the current Chairperson of TUKSFoST, the student organisation that represents the undergraduate and postgraduate students of the UP Department of Food Science.
– Author Martie Meyer