Brunei scholar, Munira Rambli, shares her PhD experience in Nutritional Sciences

I was inspired to pursue my PhD studies by Brunei’s vision 2035, that aims to have educated and highly skilled people, as measured by the highest international standard, and to achieve quality of life and a dynamic sustainable economy with per capita income that is ranked amongst the top 10 countries in the world.

Prior to my PhD studies, I obtained BSc and MSc degrees from the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff. I was then employed for two years by the Brunei Government Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources as a Quality Control Officer in the Fisheries Department, where I gained insight into potential areas of development in the food industry. I was truly honoured to receive telephone call interviews for PhD studies from ten Universities in the UK, including one from the well-recognised Professor Nazlin Howell. Professor Howell’s internationally acclaimed research, with over 200 publications in the field of Food Science and Nutrition, aiming to improve health, nutritional quality, food safety and food security, was just what I and my Government were looking for. I was very happy to start my PhD at the University of Surrey in 2013 and aim to complete and return to Brunei by early 2017.

With my background and future post in the Fisheries area, one of the biggest industries in Brunei, I was drawn to Professor Howell’s EU research projects on ‘’SECUREFISH’ and ‘ Nutritional quality of underutilised marine species to improve food security’. The title of my PhD is ‘Nutritional and physical-chemical properties of underutilised shellfish, limpet, Patela vulgata’.  I have undertaken research on the nutritional and rheological properties of this underutilised shellfish and developed novel food products. Using innovative methods that can be applied to other marine species and food raw materials, will help me to contribute to the expansion of the Food and Seafood industries in Brunei, upon my return.

I presented our research findings at The International Union of Food Science and Technology (IUFoST), 18th World Congress of Food Science and Technology in Dublin, Ireland held on 21 -25 August, 2016. My research paper was presented in the Future Foods session and was highly relevant to the Congress theme ‘Greening the global food supply chain through innovation in food science and technology’. I was delighted to take part in an International Conference that included 166 industry attendees, 60 exhibitors, 64 keynote speakers, 97 sessions, 11 themes, 31 sponsors, 369 students and about 2000 delegates from 69 countries. I shall have another excellent opportunity to interact with professionals in my research area at the 30th EFFoST, European Federation of Food Science and Technology Conference (28 -30t November, 2016) to be held in Vienna, Austria. My poster presentation at this International conference will also aid the preparation of my thesis and viva voce examination.

Despite some setbacks, I have found my PhD experience very enjoyable and rewarding in terms of undertaking novel research and gaining expertise in my field.  I would like to thank the Government of his Majesty the Sultan of Brunei for funding my PhD studies in the field of food science and technology. I am indebted to Professor Nazlin Howell for her excellent research supervision and unfailing support.  I would also like to thank Dr Barbara Fielding, Dr Farah Badii and Dr Marwa Yousr for their supervision and support.