In Their Element Science Podcast: Food & Nutrition

Food (science), glorious food (science)

Making potato ice-cream and vegan dip // Being a die-hard foodie // The science of food // Food-waste // Studying food and nutrition science

Millie Shinkfield

LinkedIn profile

Listen to the podcast

"Science is behind any area. It’s about understanding the world around you and then being able to make it better from that understanding.”Millie Shinkfield - Quality Assurance Assistant, Mexex

 

Millie Shinkfield - Quality Assurance Assistant Mexex Food Production

Food (science), glorious food (science): Millie Shinkfield

About our guest

Millie is a die-hard foodie.

She loves nothing more than deconstructing the textures and flavours of her favourite dishes when dining out…much to the annoyance of her friends.

She does, however, know what she is talking about.

After completing a Bachelor of Food and Nutrition Science, and honours degree in the same area, Millie is now a quality assurance assistant at Mexex Food Production.

Using her knowledge of food science, she spends her days inspecting products and testing them in the lab to ensure Mexex’s food meets the required quality and safety standards.

Join us for her conversation with presenter Sarah Davidson as she talks about the versatility of the humble potato (including its use in ice cream!), what inspired her to focus on food waste for her honours project and the pathway that has led her to be in her element.

Listen now

Also available for listening on:
Apple Podcasts  |  Google Podcasts  |  Spotify  |  OmnyStudio

    Expand
  • Bonus content

    Podcast - Sarah chats with Millie Shinkfield, Quality Assurance Assistant Mexex Food Production
  • Show notes

    Sarah:
    Welcome to In Their Element, a fascinating new podcast series offering a revealing glimpse into the unfolding careers of passionate science grads from South Australia's number one university for science, the University of Adelaide. In this episode, we're diving into a topic that has a special place in my heart, food, glorious food, and we're joined by Millie Shinkfield, who's absolutely smashing it out there in the workforce as a gun food technologist. Millie studied a Bachelor of Food and Nutrition Science with honours at the Waite Campus and is now a quality assurance assistant at Mexex, an industry-leading food manufacturer, specializing in aseptic processing of cheese sources, dairy, and vegetable-based products. Millie, welcome to the show.

    Millie:
    Thank you so much for having me. Thank you.

    Sarah:
    So, excited to have you here, especially because there'll be so much chat about potatoes. But, before we start, we ask every guest on the show, what is the coolest scientific fact or discovery you know of that you think needs a little moment of appreciation?

    Millie:
    Well, I suppose being a foodie, it's a food fact, and I thought it was really cool when I started learning about the nutrition side of food, that a lot of foods when you cook them actually increases the nutrients in them.

    Sarah:
    That's so cool.

    Millie:
    It makes them more available so that when you go to digest them, you can actually get more out of the food. When I was studying potatoes, we found that if you cook them in different ways, you changed the composition of it and that is better for your gut bacteria when you get resistant starch. I just always assumed that if you cooked something more, you decrease the nutrient content. But, yeah, I thought that was a really cool fact that just changed my perception on food a bit.

    Sarah:
    That is such a cool fact. I think a lot of people just assume that vegetables or all foods are kind of nutritionally the same, no matter what you do, like in any form, you're like, "Ah, it's a potato."

    Millie:
    And if it's not raw, then you've gotten rid of everything out of it. But, yeah.

    Sarah:
    Wow. Is that where the word bioavailable comes from, like-¬¬

    Millie:
    Yeah. I think that comes into it so more available for your body to digest and absorb in certain forms than others, and yeah.

    Sarah:
    Oh my gosh. That is so cool. And speaking of cool facts about food, which speaks to a very special place in my heart, we will definitely come back to your wonderful work with Mexex now, but I am dying to ask you about the time you made dips from potatoes that don't make it to the shop shelf, which was part of your honours project at the University of Adelaide. Tell me everything about this value-added potato project.

    Millie:
    Yes. It's a sad story for those potatoes. South Australia produces about 85% of Australia's supermarket potatoes. And in that huge industry we have here, there's a really big amount of waste for potatoes that are just simply the wrong shape, the wrong size. They're perfectly edible, they're perfectly good product, and they just get completely graded out usually for animal feed when they could be used in other ways. So, when I looked at my projects, I had a lot of fun using this potato in pretty much any way you could imagine, started doing some dairy-free dips with a potato and oil base, used some smoked salmon offcuts, and also did a bit of waste reduction there. But, I looked at potato buns, burger buns using up to 30% potato puree inside of those, did gluten-free crackers, some gnocchi, and my colleague started looking at some ice cream products. So, it was not what you would expect.

    Sarah:
    Oh my gosh.

    Millie:
    But, proved to be very, very interesting.

    Sarah:
    Well, the last thing I would think of when I think of a science honours is a value-added potato project, but I mean, how exciting.

    Millie:
    Absolutely. Potatoes are thrilling.

    Sarah:
    Well, they actually are. And I mean, I guess we all kind of celebrate the diversity of the potato in terms of different chips and... But don't think of how much waste, like I didn't know that statistic about South Australia potatoes being 80%-

    Millie:
    Yeah, absolutely.

    Sarah:
    ... potatoes, but also that the industry is one of the most significant, but disproportionate waste producers.

    Millie:
    Yes, absolutely.

    Sarah:
    I didn't know potatoes had to be pretty.

    Millie:
    The standards so high.

    Sarah:
    I want those poor reject potatoes.

    Millie:
    Yes.

    Sarah:
    So, just out of interest, what is your personal preferred variety and format of a potato? Because I feel like you also researched which types of potatoes were better for this puree-

    Millie:
    Yes, I did. There's always the old you should use the white potatoes for boiling or this and that for mashing or salads. And I took that a bit further and really scientifically broke it down, measured the characteristics in a really number-based way, and had a look at their applications there. So, whether some were cooking and then setting firmer, whether the red skin was a bit confusing, you thought there was bacon in the product or something like that. And yeah, no, my favourite potato actually is Royal Blue and they only grow for a really small period of time. They have a beautiful purple skin and a really yellow flesh, and they're good in just about any way but especially roasted. And I'd say a nice home-roasted smashed potato, it's just really hits the spot every time.

    Sarah:
    It's making me so hungry. Oh my gosh. So, the fellow graduate that you were talking about is Sophie Riley and who actually you still work with together.

    Millie:
    Yes, I do.

    Sarah:
    Did you taste her ice cream? What's potato ice cream like?

    Millie:
    It is very surprising. If you didn't know potato was in there, you would not guess it. It's a fantastic neutral base. It already has a bit of thickness to it because of the natural starches in the potato. And it means you don't have to use a lot of gums and dairy and that sort of thing to get a creamy mouthfeel and to bulk it out, and particularly the fruit flavours that we're looking at, passion, fruit, mango, that sort of thing. They were delicious. It was great.

    Sarah:
    Oh my gosh. So, what was your ultimate finding for the honours project, and what happened to that research? Is it continuing, has it gone anywhere, particularly in the area of food waste? It's obviously such a huge industry issue.

    Millie:
    Yeah. So, probably my biggest overall finding was that the potatoes are really, really versatile. When I was working with them and doing the different product development, I was using a potato puree that we actually produce at Mexex which is how I ended up going down that path.

    Sarah:
    Oh, right.

    Millie:
    But, when you puree those potatoes that are the ugly, too big, too small, a little bit of damage here and there, it really neglects all of those defects and it means the product is really, really versatile, and you can include it in a lot of different ways, and it has nutrition content to over just pure starch, and it's inexpensive and is a really good additive ingredient. So, yeah, and that work has continued, as you said, with Sophie's work, working with John Carragher up at the Waite Research Centre and working further on developing the ice cream, and putting the product forward to other companies and trying to get people on board to use it. So, they've continued on with that work there.

    Sarah:
    What a legacy. That's so wonderful. I was looking into some of the statistics on food waste, which is, again, something that I wouldn't have necessarily thought would emerge from just the degree is that one-third of all food produced is wasted and over 5 million tons of food ends up as landfill, which is enough to fill 9,000 Olympic swimming pools.

    Millie:
    It's devastating when you actually hear the facts and the numbers. There's so much work going on at the moment, it's really coming to the forefront. And talking about food waste, it's not only just the primary growing end and the grading out, there's things like packaging innovation, increasing the shelf life, reducing storage damage, and just constant innovation. What can we do with these graded out products? How can we improve the quality of the product and the shelf life that we've got on it and trying to reduce the waste?

    Sarah:
    Yeah. Well, I think that is another thing that most of us probably don't know much about, the actual application of food science or technology in real-life. We've all heard those terms. I'd obviously heard about food technologists, didn't know what they did, found this so interesting. What are some other really cool things that either you've worked on or that we might've heard of in society that food technology is doing to, for example, monitor food spoilage, or extend shelf life, or to look at the medicinal properties of certain foods, or I read that there's lab-grown meat, and there's all these other innovations. So, yeah, out in society, what are some of the things that food technology is doing?

    Millie:
    Well, the main focus at the moment is that a lot of the waste reduction innovation we're looking at, there's a lot of work going into sustainable packaging. What we do, for example, at Mexex is we're a bit more behind the scenes and our products, we have the ability to process them, increase the shelf life, and make them shelf-stable without the addition of any preservatives, which is an incredible benefit. And it's just something that goes on behind the scenes because we make for other manufacturers, or for franchise, fast food, and that sort of thing. So, you don't see our product around, but the innovation there with this heat treatment is just a big shelf life bulk product, so you don't have as much packaging. Yeah. It's a very interesting process.

    Sarah:
    That is so cool that, I guess, all of us know that we want things to last longer and not have so many additives, but don't necessarily know who in society is out there solving that problem. So, it is so cool to know that that is coming from people who are out there with the skill set that you've acquired from the degree. So, maybe let's talk about how you actually got to where you are because I think that's also something that's really interesting and a path that's little understood outside of the science world. So, I found it really interesting that you didn't necessarily have to go down the dietetics route, even though that too is something that really fascinates me. Food and Nutrition Sciences sounds like a much broader degree than I would have expected, obviously given where you ended up. So, run us through how you got into the degree, how you decided to choose that degree, I mean, how did you even know that what you could do with it or what that involved, and then run us through the program and what you did that prepared you for where you are?

    Millie:
    Yeah, sure. So, when I was back in Year 12, I didn't really know which way I was going to go. I was looking at university and I really enjoyed my science subjects. I got a lot out of chemistry and biology, and I was looking through all the course guides, trying to decide what to do. I was flipping through the University of Adelaide course guides because they had such a reputation for science and research, and I stumbled across the Food and Nutrition Science degree, which had such an element of application to the scientific theory, and also I'm a massive foodie. So, that instantly appealed to me. The course described as science and then applying that to food manufacturing. So then, when we actually started the degree, we did do core subjects of biology, chemistry, statistics, and then that went a step further and became food chemistry and food microbiology.

    Millie:
    And then, we studied those hand in hand with manufacturing. So, we manufactured products from a lot of the key industries. We did confectionery, bakery, meat, and butchery. We did beverage processing, we made beer, we made cheese, and studied dairy chemistry. It was very, very interesting, and just seeing those concepts applied hands-on, and it all being wonderful food and something, I was very fat, very, very passionate, it was just so, so enjoyable, and the links with industry were really great. That's how I ended up in the position I am now at Mexex and it was a really, really, really enjoyable degree. Yeah.

    Sarah:
    Gosh, that's so cool. I mean, when you first sort of hear the term Food and Nutrition Sciences, I immediately thought nutrition, dietician.

    Millie:
    Yeah.

    Sarah:
    I think we get blocked into, especially in that Year 12, end of school phase, we think there are like five jobs in the world.

    Millie:
    Absolutely

    Sarah:
    But really, it's so much broader than that. And there are jobs out there that we never even knew existed.

    Millie:
    Yeah.

    Sarah:
    And that's so cool to hear that it also, it started in the degree, like I was reading that one of your first-year subjects is farm gate to fork production and I wouldn't have even thought production would come into it, but especially so early.

    Millie:
    Yeah, absolutely. Just getting this idea, I didn't know these jobs existed, quality assurance, and how you became the person that developed ice cream, or developed bread, or sauce. And it was so enjoyable learning all the science behind food at the same time. For me, the fact that the degree structure has... You can split off into the food science and technology side of it, or take that nutrition, dietetics pathway if that's what interests you is really, really great. For me, the technology really got me going, but there's so many options within food and it's such a big industry in South Australia as well that it's a great place to study it.

    Sarah:
    Oh my gosh. I love coming here for the food and produce. It's just South Australia is so beautiful for that. So, you're right in the epicentre of everything that's happening.

    Millie:
    Yes, absolutely.

    Sarah:
    So, you mentioned that there was a lot of experimenting and practical work, and even in third year, you guys get an industry placement, which is so cool to be able to apply everything that you know. When you first started, compared to through the degree, what did you think that it would lead to when you started? And then when did you realize you wanted to split off?

    Millie:
    I thought when I started that I might just be studying food in a lab or working out why you might put a preservative in something, but it became so much more than that. It was about understanding all the different types of products you get, working out how to make them consistent and high quality, how to make sure they're safe when you manufacture them and then having such an understanding that you can then innovate and you can create new products and you can take that the next step further. Part of the degree in third year, we did a project that worked with industry and we developed a cultured chickpea hummus, which was so, so fascinating. Not only have we studied a bit about fermentation already, but we used yogurt culture to ferment chickpeas before then making it into hummus and studied all the different metabolites and compounds and everything that would be potentially made by the bacteria.

    Millie:
    And it tasted really different and cool, and it was really nice and very interesting, but then going on and doing those placements and seeing everything that we'd learned in application, out there on a day to day basis, how does it work when you're actually manufacturing the product. You've got a group of people in there in production. You need it to be the same for the customers every time. You're fixing problems on the fly and you need to understand why it all happens.

    Sarah:
    Gosh. Oh my god, what... Okay. Firstly, also, how much of your degree was just eating food? Because that's a big drawcard for me right now. If I ever went back to uni, I'm like, "I want to study eating all the food and taste it." Can I be a taste tester in your lab?

    Millie:
    Absolutely. There was a huge amount of sensory in it. We did a subject that was Sensory Evaluation, but we looked at the proper way to conduct analysis, statistically analysing our results because if you're developing a set of new products for market, you need to get an unbiased opinion of what people actually think of it. It's not making dinner for your friends and family. It's needing to be like, will the market accept this? And being able to properly analyse food on a sensory basis, and tasting it, and tasting it properly. It's a big part of it. All the descriptors of food, when I go out for dinner with my friends, they all pay me out because I'm sitting there going, "Wow, there's a real nuttiness to this," or "There's a real..."

    Sarah:
    Even just before, when you were like ultimate mouthfeel, I was like, "Whoa, mouthfeel..."

    Millie:
    See, I don't even realize I'm saying these things. Just those descriptors and, yeah, the sensory is a huge part of it, but yes, that means you do eat a lot of food, and it's not always good.

    Sarah:
    Yeah. Of course. You'd have to sample the bad ones, too.

    Millie:
    It's a work in progress, but, yeah.

    Sarah:
    Did you have an aha moment through the degree? Was it the chickpea dip that made you like, "I want to do this as a job," because I imagine a lot of the three years is just exploring all the different things you can do before going, "I actually want to do that."

    Millie:
    Yeah. Well, when we did the fermented chickpeas, it was just the first time that we took on a project from start to finish. And we did all that exploring and work towards applying our knowledge and made a product that actually worked. And it was like, "Wow. This is actually coming to fruition and its application of all our knowledge," and it was a really satisfying feeling. And when you start understanding the concepts, you learn about all the food safety, and the food poisoning outbreaks, and that sort of thing as well, which is a huge side of it, starting to get a real picture of how that comes to play in the real world and how much of an impact it makes just every single day with the food we buy off the supermarket shelf, things we get in restaurants, how much goes behind every product. And it's amazing to be a part of that.

    Sarah:
    Yeah. Wow. It also sounds like Adelaide has such a strength of relationship with industry and getting you-

    Millie:
    Absolutely.

    Sarah:
    ... really getting you straight into real-life situations from third year onwards, that's quite early to then give you the relationships for honours, which you were then able to use with Mexex. Is that how you ended up in your job now?

    Millie:
    Yes, absolutely. So, when I finished the degree, I approached John Carragher that I mentioned earlier up at the University of Adelaide, Waite Campus, and I said, "I'm interested in doing a bit of extra work and interested in getting my own area of expertise. What have you got on the go at the moment?" which is when he said, "We're looking at some waste potatoes." But during the course of my honours, we went and visited Mexex, and we did a factory tour, we learned a bit how they processed and how they made the potato puree. And Mexex is very in touch with industry, and the way that I got the job was actually from a lecturer emailing me through saying that she'd been told by industry that they have a position open, which is quite a common thing, and it's quite connected. So, industry, and the university, and the research all comes together really well and both benefit from each other.

    Sarah:
    Yeah. It sounds like it's such an integrated transition from the theory into the practical and then into the workforce, which is something you don't actually see, I don't think, in a lot of degrees where often people graduate and they're just sort of like, "What do I do with this?" whereas you're already planting those seeds really early.

    Millie:
    Yeah, absolutely. And we had a placement student from the University of Adelaide recently, which was just wonderful to then have someone in what was my position to come through and to mentor them for a bit, as well. So, that was really great.

    Sarah:
    Oh, you're paying it forward.

    Millie:
    Yeah.

    Sarah:
    So, now that you are at Mexex as an actual full-time employee, what does your day to day look like? Because again, I think this is something that outside of... You mentioned that a lot of your work is behind the scenes and we don't get a lot of visibility on the things that you do, but always benefit from the actual end result of your work. So, both you and Sophie are there together, which I think is so cool, back with the potato purees, and we were talking before about how Mexex specializes in source production and has continually worked on extending the shelf life of those without preservatives. And you're in a quality assurance role, but also get involved in a lot of different areas, I've heard. So, tell us about what you do.

    Millie:
    Yeah, absolutely. So, food manufacturers have a quality manual that is the basis of how they make their food safe, good, and tasty, and consistent, meet all your legal requirements and meet all your customer expectations. So, that also incorporates your food safety plan. So, for me, on a day to day basis, I'm doing regular inspections and check-ins that all the systems are being followed out in production, but also the paperwork and everything that goes on behind the scenes. For us, keeping the equipment in correct working order, all our measuring equipment to make sure that we're getting the right readings and that's all working properly, dealing with any hiccups on the fly, just little problem solving, bits and pieces as we go, and just ensuring that all those procedures are able to be followed and assisting where we can. So, it's different every day. I do regular lab testing, and regular inspections, and things, but, depending for us on what we're making, can be a very, very different day. And I love that. I love being on my feet, and problem-solving, and being constantly challenged, and I've learned so, so much.

    Sarah:
    It'd be so cool to actually see something in practice that is going out to the market.

    Millie:
    Yes.

    Sarah:
    And I think a lot of us forget that we go to places for the consistency of the product, and it needs to be the same every time.

    Millie:
    Absolutely.

    Sarah:
    Someone has to ensure that happens. It doesn't just magically turn out the same.

    Millie:
    Yeah, absolutely. And you know, you expect that if you get a packet of biscuits, every single one looks the same, and tastes the same, and you can buy the same thing again, and it looks good. And customers are very, very picky and they know their stuff. And it's very important that your systems are all in place and working. So, on top of that, we do a lot of innovations. So, companies will come to us and say they're looking for a particular sauce to go in something, we can match a similar product, or we can even suggest ideas to them.

    Sarah:
    That's cool.

    Millie:
    So, we have a real working back and forward relationship with a lot of our customers with innovations. So, that's really great.

    Sarah:
    What would you say is your favourite part of the job? The coolest thing that you get to do day to day?

    Millie:
    I really like the innovation side of it. Just hearing our next projects and the fact that we do make different stuff all the time. So, in a week we might be making anything from dessert sauce, vegetable puree, cheese sauce is our really big one. That's great. You've never seen so much cheese in your life, just pallets and pallets of cheddar. It's incredible.

    Sarah:
    Oh my gosh. Cheddar and potatoes, what a winning combination.

    Millie:
    Oh yeah.

    Sarah:
    I understand why you love your job.

    Millie:
    Oh, it's awesome.

    Sarah:
    So, knowing now how... Or you having given me an insight to broad the degree actually is and all the different directions that you can take it in, what else could you have done with it if you hadn't gone into food production and technology? For example, what have some of your peers gone on to do with their degrees?

    Millie:
    Some of my peers have gone on to do the dietetics pathway, as well. So, there's not only becoming a dietician if you go on and do your Masters and that sort of thing, but there's also a lot of research in nutrition areas, as well. So, I was part of a research group when I was doing my honours that not only did food technology research, but it did a lot of work with the Women's and Children's doing research into pregnant mothers, in the food that they eat, and how that influences their children, and even after the birth, and years on. So, that was really, really interesting, but not so much the area I went into. So, it was great to have an insight into that while I was doing my study, as well.

    Sarah:
    Yeah. Gosh. There's just so many areas that this particular skill set touches on that we don't actually think about. And I think most people don't know that that's what you would have had to study to get into those roles.

    Millie:
    Yeah, absolutely.

    Sarah:
    The food and beverage industry in this country alone exports like $40 billion a year.

    Millie:
    It's huge.

    Sarah:
    There's so many jobs and positions and places for you to end up. What about in public health and policy and education? Is that something that people have gone into?

    Millie:
    There's a lot of people who are really passionate about their research for it. So, we've got a lot of research into food waste going on at the moment that's just received large amount of grants. The CRC that Steven Lapidge was awarded has been doing some great work starting up now, but there's also always work behind the scenes at hospitals in developing diets and products that are good for immunocompromise or those with limited diets and that sort of thing as well.

    Sarah:
    Yes, gosh, you don't even think about that. Oh my gosh. That's so cool. What are the other big problems in society like that, like immunocompromised or people who can't actually consume a certain amount of foods that food technologists are working on?

    Millie:
    Yeah. There's people that have particular conditions that mean that they can't eat food that's too thick or too thin. There's people that are sick, that they react strongly to some foods or the other, there's, of course, people with severe allergies and food intolerances, and making sure that there's not complacency when it comes to manufacturing those and producing those foods, making sure that it's safe for those consumers, as well, not just from a food poisoning side of things.

    Sarah:
    Yeah. Is that something you get at Mexex? Like, clients will come to you and say we need X and Y but it can't have A and B?

    Millie:
    Absolutely. Yeah. Allergen-

    Sarah:
    It's like a jigsaw puzzle.

    Millie:
    Yeah. Yeah. Allergen control. And also everyone has their own requirements when it comes to certain types of additives that they prefer or prefer not to have. So, it's a balance between being able to make a product that is functional and has the shelf life and properties that they want but also meet their requirements in terms of your allergens and different accreditations and that sort of thing.

    Sarah:
    That is so interesting. Literally, this is a whole new world. And I was also looking at similar and a Bachelor of Viticulture and Oenology. And that's also... They're big industries in South Australia, but also Australia generally. So, what could those degrees have led to?

    Millie:
    I think the viticulture degree being massive wine-producing state, as well, again, very, very industry linked. I think that from my understanding, they do a lot of research into the growing of grapes and that sort of thing, as well, and developing wines perhaps that don't use as many sulfites or having different characteristics, measuring the characteristics of wine and sort of quantifying those different flavours and sensations you get there.

    Sarah:
    Mouthfeel.

    Millie:
    Yes. Absolutely. And then, we did a subject, microbiology, that we did with some of the agriculture kids, as well. And we got a bit of an insight into some of the stuff that they were learning. So, it was about a disease control for some of the crops and some of the conditions for farming animals, and the changes in their feed, and how that can affect them. And yeah, so even that small snippet, that was really interesting as well, but up at Waite in particular, for the University of Adelaide, it's a lot of research going on for agriculture and food. And it's all very, very linked at the moment.

    Sarah:
    Yeah. And I love also that in your degree, you were able to do subjects and electives that do kind of give you this cross exposure to other ways that you could use your skill sets and other industries that are connected to the one that you're in.

    Millie:
    Yeah. So, I did an elective of marketing, actually-

    Sarah:
    Oh my gosh.

    Millie:
    That was really interesting because, of course, that comes into play when you're developing a new product for retail or anything like that. So, being able to do little electives that take you a bit of a sidestep from the main degree topics was really great, as well.

    Sarah:
    Yeah. I even was looking at the list of the subjects and there are so many things that are peripheral or kind of ancillary to the actual food science and food technology of developing products but that, practically, you need to have thought about those things. What are the electives that you ended up doing and how have they kind of helped you?

    Millie:
    Well, I did physiology. That's something that is important to keep under your belt if you're looking at that nutrition, dietetics pathway. I did it because I'm a big advocate for keeping your options open and challenging yourself while you're doing your degree. So, that was really, really interesting and, as well, doing the marketing. So, that was completely different structure. I was used to doing pracs and really sort of-

    Sarah:
    Taste testing.

    Millie:
    ... hardcore theory and calculations and everything. And then to go in and start doing essays about marketing techniques and that sort of thing on a really sort of communication basis was very, very different and very interesting, as well.

    Sarah:
    Yeah. Wow. And in terms of going back into research and continuing being able to explore the different problems that are out there in food technology and solving them, à la potato research, value-added potato project, I read that both you and Sophie keen to continue that research, and I think this university is such a wonderful place to do that.

    Millie:
    Absolutely.

    Sarah:
    What are some topics out there that even if you might not necessarily actually do them, what are some topics out there that you would love if you had the chance to explore further? Because even myself, looking back at uni, it's such a short time that we're here and there's so many options and it's sort of like, "I wish I could go back and just research things because I'm interested in them." What are the big things you'd love to-

    Millie:
    Absolutely. Well, within food itself, I am really interested in native Australian products. I did some work after I just finished my honours with the South Australian Research and Development Institute also located on the Waite Campus. And we did some work with some native Australian products and they're very, very different, often very concentrated in nutrients because of growing up in such a harsh environment.

    Millie:
    But, outside of that, moving into industry something that really has struck me that I have a bit of lack knowledge on was a lot of the business side of things, and I think if I went back and did some further study, I'd love to go back and do some business, or economics, or something like that to really broaden my horizons on that side of things, not just the pure science stuff.

    Sarah:
    Well, I love that you've got that attitude of keeping as many doors open as you can because I think this is a world where our skills are relevant in so many different ways.

    Millie:
    Absolutely.

    Sarah:
    And even a few years down the track in jobs that didn't exist when we graduated, and it's amazing to hear that your degree and your subsequent experience and skills have been able to keep lots of doors open for you.

    Millie:
    Yeah. I think if you can build your own unique skill set, then that's always a great, great thing to do.

    Sarah:
    Yeah. So, out in a longer-term future, bigger picture macro version of the world, what would be your ultimate food technology dream? What is one problem, even globally, not necessarily locally, that you would love to be able to solve in your career? Because I think people really underestimate, outside of sort of curing cancer, I think people underestimate the huge impact that scientists and discoveries have in a practical sense outside of just labs to solve global problems like food waste, like food safety and all those kinds of things. So if you could have one big change to your name, what would it be?

    Millie:
    I think food security is a massive issue, globally. So, being able to get supplies of good nutritious food to people in more remote areas, areas of higher poverty rates, that sort of thing. So, if you're able to create a way of getting really fresh produce or something with a really high shelf life that you can transport easily, maybe not refrigerated transport, to get it out to communities that would really benefit from that, that would be very, very rewarding.

    Sarah:
    Imagine if there was a think tank that you could just start to solve all the world's problems. I'm sure there is. You can start one. And what would you say to people who don't think science is for them, which is a hard one because I think we just all have such misconceptions when we're at school that science is labs, and beakers, and measuring out stuff on a Bunsen burner.

    Millie:
    Absolutely. And it's not about that if you don't want it to be. It's behind any area. So, if you're into history, or the earth and the environment, social behaviour, health and medicine, and of course, food, being into science and doing science is about understanding each of those. So, it doesn't mean that you're holding test tubes every day. You could be out gathering information in a community. You could be out gathering samples in a remote location for soil. It's about understanding the world around you and then being able to make it better from having that understanding.

    Sarah:
    Oh my gosh. Now I'm so inspired to become a scientist. Where do I sign up?

    Millie:
    Excellent.

    Sarah:
    Well, thank you so much for joining us on the show. I'm so inspired by the potatoes and everything you've talked about. We actually have a plant-based cafe in Melbourne called Matcha Mylkbar, which loves looking... We love looking at the food science of developing. We've developed vegan eggs.

    Millie:
    Awesome.

    Sarah:
    Vegan chicken, and vegan potato ice cream, I mean...

    Millie:
    Yes, absolutely.

    Sarah:
    Maybe I'll poach you.

    Millie:
    Next big thing.

    Sarah:
    Yeah, sure. Thanks so much for joining me.

    Millie:
    Thank you so much.

    Sarah:
    Thanks for listening to In Their Element. It's been an absolutely pleasure bringing it to you. If you enjoyed what you heard, be sure to subscribe to the series and we'll send you an alert the moment our next episode drops. And more importantly, if the career path you've heard about here appeals to you, jump on the Uni of Adelaide website today to learn all about the science degrees that can get you there. Until next time, bye-bye.