Upcoming research is always being developed at Harper Adams, seeing students working on new and exciting projects from field to fork. For Nutrition and Hydration Week, we spoke to one of our master's students, Emma Eastwick, who is specialising in meat and its nutritional value during cooking.
The MRes Meat Science student previously studied at Harper, achieving her BSc (Hons) Food and Consumer Studies degree. Although she initially considered becoming a primary school teacher, the opportunity to pursue postgraduate study drew her back to campus.
Emma commented: "I applied for the Worshipful Company of Butchers Scholarship to study MRes Meat Science at the advice of some of the contacts I had kept at Harper. Although I had envisioned becoming a primary school teacher - where further study wouldn't have been part of the plan - I'm so glad I chose to take this option."
Emma's study is around the optimsiation of cooking frozen meat products. By using a Dynamic Climate Chamber (DCC), Emma is comparing conventional defrosting and cooking to use of a microwave, and to cooking within the DCC.
"The DCC," Emma explained, "is just like a big oven but it lets you alter the termperature and humidity levels to your own needs. In my study, I'm looking at the cooking of frozen beef joints. Even though the cooking time may be longer with a DCC, the aim is to have better quality cooked meat at the end of the process, by adjusting the heat over time rather than drying the meat out at one temperature.
"The overall aim would be to get DCC technology into people's kitchens and make it part of day to day life. It's simply a new process to make cooking easier."
Emma spoke about returning to Harper as a postgraduate student. She said: "There is a distinct difference beween undergraduate and postgraduate study. Lab work is definitely more time consuming but it's a nice change to when I first came to Harper to have total freedom in my research.
"There's also more of a conversation that happens between staff and the students; they're fantastic and lovely at undergraduate, but studying postgraduate means you can talk more about work and research papers with someone who understands and wants to contribute. It's a different dynamic but still a great one."
In undertaking her postgraduate study, Emma shared her insight into the food industry as a whole, saying: "People don't realise the spectrum of jobs within the food sector. It's so varied, from farm based to product development to sales. It's constantly changing which means you can learn so many new things and shape your own path in the sector."
Emma's overall advice to other Harper students at any point in their educational journey is to "say yes to everything" that is offered to you. Emma continued: "Harper has so many opportunities; I didn't think meat science would become my specialism but, due to my exchange placement year spent in Kansas, America, I got to learn about something new which has totally shaped my career direction."
Should you be interested in finding out more about postgraduate research, you can join us on our postgraduate open afternoon! Showcasing the variety of pathways into further education, it's a great opportunity to ask questions and see precisely how a Harper Adams degree matters.