Now in their final term of studies, Harper fourth year students are working hard to perfect their Honours research projects (HRP) before their deadlines. As the biggest project they undertake in their undergraduate studies, HRPs test everything a student has learnt so far through their own thesis. Katie Thorman, a BSc (Hons) Food Technology with Nutrition student, spoke to us about her project and how she was inspired by her wider studies, particularly during a time where nutrition and vitamins are of key importance to our diets.
Summarising her study, Katie said: “My study is to understand how much parents know about vitamin D; I’m interested to know whether parents would be willing to use a fortified cheese as a vitamin D supplement.
“This topic is relevant to the nutrition aspect of my studies as I am having to research the recommended daily allowance, fortification, and implications of deficiency. These are all subjects I have learnt in my nutrition module over the last three years of studying. I also am having to understand the process of fortification of cheese which is something I did during my placement year.
“From my HRP I hope to find out the level of knowledge around vitamin D, and ways we can encourage alternative supplements. I also want to find out views and opinions of fortified foods and whether they value them enough to pay extra.”
Katie spoke about the inspiration for her study, sharing: “I wanted a nutrition based topic as this is where my passion lies in my degree. Equally, I wanted to involve cheese in my topic because of my placement at Saputo Dairy UK. There, I worked as a Research and Development Technologist, understanding the different cheeses and working to develop new ones, seeing how ingredients like vitamin D could be added.”
Now working from home, Katie explained how isolation restrictions have impacted her HRP. She commented: “Luckily, working from home hasn’t compromised me too much. I had already collected most of my focus group data. I was hoping to conduct another focus group but, due to the circumstances, I haven’t been able to so my sample size is now reduced. Additionally, I am not able to speak to my HRP tutor or Saputo Dairy UK to update them in person but thankfully these can both be organised via Skype.”
Inspired by the role she undertook on her placement year, Katie is keen to work within research and development of foods in her future career. “The experience has really motivated me in my final year,” she explained. “Knowing what I now want to do in the future makes me want to achieve the best degree I can.”
Of her university experience, Katie commented: “Harper is a really good university with a friendly and welcoming atmosphere; you’ll meet a lot of people and have a good social life. There is a lot of contact time with lecturers and they’re always happy to help.
“I chose Harper because of the location - I wanted to stay close to home - but I also found that the facilities were the best compared to the other institutions I visited. The RFA is a great space to work and develop your skills.”
Should you be interested in the variety of careers open to you with a degree in the food sector, you can see our course page here. To speak to a student about their food experience, follow the link below.