BY: ANNA WEST WALLER
In this post Anna Waller, PhD student at University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign (USA) and winner of the 2018 Campden BRI IFTSA Thesis Video competition, talks about her sponsored trip to UK. The trip spanned ten days from Nov 18th – 28th, 2018. To learn more about the Thesis Video competition and how YOU could potentially win a trip to the UK sponsored by Campden BRI, click here.
Usually, the opportunities and connections presented throughout life are by chance. If you’re lucky, these random interactions jumpstart new careers, spark groundbreaking ideas, or create lifelong relationships. In my case, as is the case for many food scientists, I didn’t grow up thinking I’d be a food scientist. Yet somehow, by many chance interactions and opportunities along my own path, I am a third year Ph.D. student at the University of Illinois studying food science and human nutrition. The last 10 days, however, were filled with a number of carefully planned interactions, each one thoughtfully intended to spark a new idea, create lifelong friends and colleagues, or possibly jumpstart a career post-grad. This unique experience was in the UK, all in thanks to Campden BRI and IFT’s Graduate Student Research Video Competition.
The competition involved creating a 3 minute video about my global nutrition research, practicing clear and concise science communication to the public. Upon being selected as a finalist, I won the prize at the annual IFT conference to come to the UK for 10 days in November for a tailored experience to understand the food and nutrition industry in this part of the world.
The trip began in Chipping Campden, a beautiful town situated at the north of the Cotswolds – a magical stretch of towns spanning all the way to Bath. The evening was spent strolling through the main district, walking off the jet lag while admiring the historic buildings and market hall. I then spent the following day at Campden BRI’s headquarters. I was welcomed by Bertrand Emond who organized this 10-day program and who is also the Chair of the IFT British Section. We toured the labs, pilot plants, and met a number of scientists along the way. I presented a lunchtime talk about my research as well – introduced by past IFT President and ex-Director General of Campden BRI, Colin Dennis – further practicing science communication skills to a broad audience.
The following 3 days were spent at London’s annual Food Matters Live event, listening to a fascinating lineup of speakers and networking with UK’s food and drink industry. On the closing day, I was invited to participate on a panel following a screening of IFT’s Food Evolution – organised by the IFT British Section.
Before spending the weekend sightseeing with friends in London, I made a quick trip to Norwich, England, with Campden BRI’s Sian Twinning. We toured impressive facilities at the research park and engaged with many scientists and students at the collaborative research institutions including the Quadram Institute, the Earlham Institute and the John Innes Centre (JIC).
The following days in London were spent with the Royal Society for Public Health and the British Nutrition Foundation, renowned charities working to improve the health and wellbeing of the UK population, and Waitrose, a prominent grocery chain in the UK which has its own foundation for international development. Each visit was inspiring; the passionate scientists, public health specialists, and development specialists engaged in thoughtful conversations about policy, nutrition interventions, and program implementation.
Finally, the UK experience was even complete with a trip to Aberdeen, Scotland, with Emma Burton from Campden BRI. We visited the Rowett Institute, proudly recognized as one of the world’s leading nutrition research centers over the last 100 years. We received a warm welcome throughout the day and had the opportunity to learn from many of their scientists. I also had the opportunity to present my research during the lunchtime seminar series, providing a unique platform for cross-cultural discussions and potential collaborations in the future.
Overall, the 10 days were inspiring, engaging, and unique. By chance, these conversations and interactions in sum could maybe occur over years, or in a life’s work in the food and nutrition field. But only by the attentive and tailored planning by Campden BRI could it have happened in 10 days at such a pivotal time in my career, all whilst exploring a new and beautiful part of the world. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to learn from UK’s best and brightest minds in the fields of nutrition policy, food and nutrition science, and international development. Only time will tell how these tremendous connections, ideas, and relationships might positively impact my career and the new nutrition science developments ahead.
Anna West Waller, November 2018