The Girls in Engineering Club asked 4th year food science student Celeste Clayton what her degree is like and what the National Science Week theme "Food: Different by design" means to a food scientist.

The theme for National Science Week 2021 is Food: Different by design.  The Girls in Engineering Club picked the brains of Celeste Clayton, a student in her final year of a Bachelor of Food Science (Honours) degree at UNSW.  

Tell us a bit about yourself when you are not studying at UNSW? 

I really love to bake and cook. I live a busy, fast-paced life and so I really enjoy taking some quiet time to myself. I also love travelling, taking long walks at the beach, and just hanging out with my friends, whether that’s games nights, workouts, or just chill dinners.  

What exactly is food science? 

It is such a broad area and food science can mean many different things to many people. To me, it’s an amalgamation of everything that goes on behind the scenes to make all the food products we consume as delicious, safe, cheap, plentiful, and as long-lasting as they can be!  

What kind of jobs can you get as a food scientist? 

You could become a Product Developer responsible for inventing and formulating new foods and upscaling them or a Quality Assurance Officer working to ensure the products produced are consistent, free of contaminants and follow legal requirements. Another great job is a Sensory Scientist who optimises food so that the consumer has the best experience eating the food!  

If you are more interested in nutrition you can look at the effect of foods on the body and work as a nutritionist or a researcher. The opportunities really are endless and involve all aspects of what goes into a food product all the way from the paddocks to your plates and so with your imagination you could really design your dream job! 

How did you come to study food science? 

I always had an interest in food and in science. I remember wanting to know why bread has bubbles in it and why it turns brown when cooked. I loved the broad overview that the high school food technology course gave, but wanted to utilise more of the technical scientific skills I had developed in chemistry, biology, and maths. So, UNSW Engineering’s Food Science and Technology bachelor's degree seemed like the perfect choice for me.  

The course has been amazing and taught me the fundamentals of food technology, as well as providing endless opportunities for hands on learning and allowing me to meet some lifelong friends! 

What surprised you about studying food science at UNSW? 

I was more surprised by how hard I could work and in turn how much I could excel! I had to really persevere with courses I had no experience in, such as physics and computing. But through this I found some amazing peers who are super helpful and happy to work together. 
I have also been lucky enough to be involved in the UNSW Food Science Association, which is a student run society throughout my degree. It helped me make a food science network at UNSW and some great friends to study and socialise with!  

This year the theme of National Science week is Food: Different by design. What does this mean for food science and why do you think it is important in 2021 ? 

The global population is growing at a staggering rate, some people have access to too much food while 1 in 9 people do not have access to enough food! As food technologists, it is important that we work to address these problems to ensure a sustainable future. Current research in areas such as cellular agriculture highlight opportunities to effectively address these issues. It is important for all of us to claim responsibility for our food choices today and every day to demand that food is continually designed differently to benefit us all! 

For more information about studying Food Science and Technology at UNSW, take a look at the 2021 Handbook