Riddet Institute science receives international recognition

Dr Debashree Roy’s second place in the Pieter Walstra award is the latest recognition for her research into the digestion behaviour of milks of different species.

26 April 2022 – Riddet Institute Postdoctoral Fellow Dr Debashree Roy received an outstanding recognition in an international science competition last month (March, 2022).  The award adds to growing recognition for Dr Roy, who completed her PhD in Food Technology in 2021 at Massey University in Palmerston North.

Dr Debashree Roy’s PhD thesis entitled “Structural changes in milk of different species during digestion” came second in the international Pieter Walstra award competition and received ‘nominee with honour’ recognition from the jury members.

The members of the jury appreciated Dr Roy’s research both from the perspective of scientific quality as well as from the applications and implications for the dairy industry worldwide.

The Pieter Walstra Award is presented every two years and is organised by the Dutch Dairy Organisation (NZO) in the spirit of Professor Pieter Walstra’s contributions to dairy science.  The competition aims to support excellence in the field of dairy science and technology, looking at critical, innovative fundamental science, inspired by and directed towards solving practical problems. This year’s competition was the sixth year it has been held.

Dr Roy was naturally delighted with the recognition of her PhD research, undertaken at Massey University’s Riddet Institute.

“I thoroughly enjoyed my PhD at Massey University and the Riddet Institute. I am very thankful to my PhD supervisors for their excellent mentorship and my colleagues at the Riddet Institute for all their support. I am looking forward to my continued learning and further contribution in the field of dairy and food science.”

Riddet Institute Director Distinguished Professor Harjinder Singh said the award was outstanding recognition of Dr Roy’s PhD research.

“Second place in an international competition is a great achievement,” Prof Singh said. “This is further recognition of the scientific quality of Dr Roy’s research and the important questions it seeks to answer.”

He said Dr Roy’s outstanding PhD thesis provided new insights into the digestion behaviour of milks of different species. Dr Roy’s PhD work was supported by the Riddet Institute’s CoRE and aligned with a number of industry partners.

One of Dr Roy’s research papers also received editor’s choice recognition by the Journal of Dairy Science last year. Since the conception of Dr Roy’s PhD study in 2016, there has been a strong interest from both industry and academia in her research.

Dr Roy’s PhD research was also featured last year in Oct-2021 in Goat & Sheep Milk New Zealand magazine. She has also delivered several presentations at national and international conferences.

Dr Roy’s thesis examined in detail the structures of proteins and fat globules in milks of different species, and how their digestion behaviour under both dynamic in vitro conditions and in vivo (piglet) models. The research work answered very well some important scientific questions: Does the mechanism of milk coagulation vary for different milk? How do proteins and fat globules from different species behave during gastric digestion? Does the curd characteristics in stomach influence the rates of nutrient delivery to small intestine for different milk? Are the changes observed during dynamic in vitro gastric digestion valid under physiologically relevant in vivo conditions?

Dr Roy said the results from her thesis contribute to the knowledge of how composition, along with structure, impact the release of nutrients at various stages of gastric digestion of different mammalian milks.

“The information gained from this study has important consequences for developing dairy products with improved structures for controlling the release of nutrients to meet the special dietary needs of consumers. In addition, the new knowledge provides scientific basis for the digestion characteristics of sheep and goat milk, further enhancing its utilization and consumer acceptance.”

Dr Roy is currently pursuing her postdoctoral research fellowship with Riddet Institute and her research work is supported by Riddet Institute CoRE funding.

Details about Dr Roy’s research and publications can be found on her Riddet Institute/ Massey University profile:

https://www.riddet.ac.nz/people/debashree-roy/

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