In 2017, the Riddet Institute began offering financial support to PhD students for Overseas Placements of up to 6 months. The main purpose of these overseas placements is for Riddet Institute PhD students in the second or third year of their study to gain new skills and access new methodologies or techniques as an integral part of their project. The placements grow the student’s research network and strengthen relationships with overseas collaborators, usually with whom there is an established relationship or where there is strong evidence that the collaboration will add value to the CoRE research programme.
Ms Feng Ming Chian, supervised by Dr Lovedeep Kaur (Riddet Institute Associate Investigator), is conducting PhD research on the effect of processing on muscle microstructure and protein digestibility in vitro. She is affiliated with Massey University through her chief supervisor, Dr Kaur, and other supervisors Dr Mike Boland (Riddet Institute Associate Investigator) and Dr Suzanne Hodgkinson, as well as with the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA, France) through her supervisor Dr Thierry Astruc. In the first round of the 2017 Overseas Placement Award, Feng Ming was awarded financial support from the Riddet Institute to spend five months at INRA, France with Dr Astruc to learn new technical skills in order to further her studies. Feng Ming describes her experience as being rewarding and invaluable:
“In late September 2017, I started an overseas placement programme in France for 5 months as part of my PhD research project. The main objective of my placement was to learn new structural characterisation techniques and subsequent image analysis. I was fortunate to receive an Overseas Placement Award from the Riddet Institute and would like to express my deepest gratitude to the Institute for their support and generosity.
My overseas placement was done at the Quality of Animal Products Research Unit (QuaPA) located at the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Centre of the French National Institute of Agronomy (INRA), where my project co-supervisor, Dr Thierry Astruc, is based. I was working in the Imaging and Transfers team, which focuses on the characterisation of the structural and chemical evolution of foods during processing and after food ingestion. The major muscle structure characterisation techniques I was working on were histochemistry, FT-IR microspectrometry, immunohistofluorescene and transmission electron microscopy. I also learnt proper sample preparation procedures such as cryofixation and cryosectioning, which is important for minimising the samples destruction and artefact prior to their subsequent characterisation.
Besides conducting muscle structure characterisation in QuaPA, I also visited the German Institute of Food (DIL), located at Quakenbrück, Germany, for a week to conduct hydrodynamic shockwave treatment on beef samples as part of my project objectives. With help from Ms Anna-Sophie Stübler, Dr Kemal Agonovic and others at DIL, the experiment went smoothly and we are expecting to get interesting results which could be useful in filling gaps in the literature.”
Other than the educational and technical skills she learned, Feng Ming also spent time enjoying and exploring the French culture. She was enrolled in French language lessons and spent time with local families. Feng Ming also took the opportunity to travel around Europe.
The Riddet Institute is pleased to announce that the first of two 2018 application rounds for the Overseas Placement Awards is now open. If any Riddet Institute PhD Student wishes to apply, please contact Hannah Hutchinson (