UNSW and UC Davis partner to feed a growing population

UNSW Sydney and the University of California, Davis (UC Davis) have announced a new partnership in food and nutrition science and engineering. The relationship will focus on student exchange, research collaboration and pursuit of joint funding opportunities, with an emphasis on food systems.

Professor Johannes le Coutre, an expert in food and nutrition science with significant experience in the food industry, will lead the partnership at UNSW. He said UNSW and UC Davis share many synergies and that the new alliance will help accelerate teaching and research outcomes in this field.

“The aim of the partnership is to build on both universities’ research strengths in food and nutrition science, through a focus on food systems. This involves all the basic elements of how we get healthy food from its sources to consumers, plus all the processes and infrastructure involved in feeding a population,” Prof. le Coutre said.

“Over the coming three decades we will require 70 per cent more calories to nourish all humans on our planet. We must equip our agricultural and food industries in Australia, the US – everywhere, in fact – with advanced food production systems, to help deliver a safe, sustainable food supply to our growing populations.”

UC Davis Prof. Bruce German said his university and UNSW share a similar vision for understanding diet in its entire complexity. This includes all the elements of raw materials, the consequences of processing to products, and the implications of that complexity to the equally daunting diversity of how foods are experienced by people.

“Such an inherently multidisciplinary vision requires active collaboration among like-minded yet scientifically diverse teams,” Prof. German said. “This partnership provides the opportunity for collaboration between two of the top research universities in the world. It’s a relationship based on mutual benefit leveraged for transformative impacts in research and education.”

The research teams aim to conceptualise and develop a single framework for evaluating food materials in terms of safety, nourishment, sustainability, cost and sensory value.

They will also work on improving food mapping methodologies in California and Australia. This will involve studying the composition of crops in both locations, as well as technologies that are used to process those crops and their effects on food composition and overall health benefits.

“Food systems around the world are in desperate need of revolutionary innovations to improve human health, safety, quality of life and environmental sustainability. International collaborations are the seeds of ideas and innovations and we are confident that together UC Davis and UNSW will provide many seeds,” Prof. German said.

The partnership will also support bilateral exchange of students across the food and nutrition disciplines. Both institutions are working to identify the compatibility of respective degrees and educational opportunities to be shared abroad.