PG Food

Biyun Zhang

Why did you decide to study a masters at the University of Leeds?

I chose the University of Leeds for my masters study was because I really enjoyed my time at Leeds as an undergraduate student for the past three years. Also, the university enjoys a good reputation nationally and globally. The University of Leeds is one of the top 100 universities in the newest QS World University Rankings, and it is also one of the top 10 universities in the UK. As a member of the Russell Group, the university is research-intensive, which gives me opportunities to get involved in cutting-edge research and develop many transferable skills that are important for my future career. In addition, the School of Food Science and Nutrition at Leeds is renowned for its teaching and research around the world.

What has been the best aspect of studying on your course and at the University so far and why?

My subject is health-related and very interesting to learn because people nowadays become more aware of healthy eating. The lectures delivered are closely linked to the latest research and they are taught by very passionate, friendly, and helpful academics in the school. Also, studying at such an international university that has students from all over the world enables me to study in a multicultural environment and also meet and know people from different background. Furthermore, the university and the school provide information and guidance for job application all the time throughout the study.

Tell us about some of the exciting projects you have completed.

For my final year research project, I worked with my supervisor to design a nanoparticle called cubosomes, which are lipid nanoparticles that have been mainly used to deliver drugs and crystalline membrane proteins. The cubosomes we produced are the most swollen cubosomes to date at physiological conditions, which also fills a research gap. 

For my final year group project, my peers and I created a new product that is ‘clean label with restricted calories’. After conducting some basic research, market analysis, focus groups, and also using the knowledge we have learnt, we successfully designed a high-protein, low calorie snack made using sustainable cricket flour, and we named it ‘Sustain-a-bites’. Also, our product won the second prize at the Dragon’s Den at the end.

Over the summer, I worked for a seafood company who has an issue with its King Prawn products, because consumers complained that they received ‘off’ smell when they opened the product. The project aimed to investigate the cause of the smell and potential solutions. After three months lab work, I found that there is a compound called BHT that presented in the packaging material might be a reason causes the ‘off’ smell perceived by consumers. 

What does Leeds as a city have to offer students?

Leeds is a city with a massive student population. There are loads of restaurants and café in Leeds that serve different cuisines and excellent brunch and afternoon tea. Leeds is also known for its nightlife because of different types of clubs and pubs it has. There are many high streets and also a big shopping centre in the town, which is ideal for people who love shopping. Leeds is surrounded by many beautiful national parks and small towns that are ideal to go for a break. Also, Leeds is cheap! and the city centre is only a 10-minute walk from the campus. Finally, the city’s train station and bus station provide convenient transportation to allow people travel from Leeds to anywhere in the country.

What are your ambitions for the future?

After having a Food Science and Nutrition related degree, I want to work for a food industry as either a food scientist or a nutritionist. I would like to work in a R&D department or in a NPD team to solve food-specific problem that the company has, and also to develop new products that are nutritious and healthy or to reformulate existing products to meet both consumers’ and government’s needs. At the same time, I will also look for other research opportunities in universities to find a suitable project to consider doing a PhD.

What experiences at Leeds do you think will help you in your future career?

After completing so many individual and group work throughout my degree, I developed many skills that I believe are important for my future career, such as independent working, team work, research skills and also critical thinking. Also, after being a student ambassador for the school for two years, my communication skills have been improved a lot, and I become more confident now when talking to people. Time management is another important skill I have developed at the university by balancing my academic life and social life to make me love my time at Leeds. 

What would you say to students coming to do the same course?

Firstly, know yourself well - ask yourself what is your interest, what do you want to learn from the course, what do you want to do after graduation. Then do plenty research on the course and the university. As long as you are prepared and passionate about your choice, even though Masters is an intensive course, it will bring you to the success in your future.