PhD student pitches impress FFS Shark Tank

In late October 2023, Future Food Systems’ PhD students were asked to submit 90-second video presentations detailing their research on FFS projects.

Several students responded to the call, and a showreel of their submissions was screened at the FFS annual Networking Night on 6 December to guests including FFS staff, industry and research partners, Board member Bob Mullins, and several of our east-coast-based PhD students.

After the screening, five of the students who had submitted videos were chosen to make their pitches live to a ’Shark Tank’-style judging panel.  On the panel were:

PhD student Miranda Yang listens to the panel’s feedback at Networking Night 2023. Credit: Future Food Systems

First to pitch was Miranda Yang, who made an excellent case for the value of her research at UNSW, backed by industry partner Baker & Codeveloping a new, cost-effective way to spray-dry liquid flavour ingredients to extend their safe shelf life and make it simpler and cheaper to store, transport and export them.

UNSW doctoral student Keseaw Agyemang, delivering her video pitch; several of the FFS’s PhD student cohort submitted short video pitches of their research work; a showreel was screened at the Networking Night. Credit: Future Food Systems

Next came UNSW’s Kesewa Agyemang, who made a spirited and engaging case for the value of her doctoral research project, modelling agrifood supply chains to optimise and streamline the journey from farm to fork.

Western Sydney University PhD student Mazadul Islam pitches the positives of his research into sustainable fertigation in greenshouse vegie crops to the Sharks. Credit: Future Food Systems

Western Sydney University’s Mazadul Islam impressed the Sharks with the case he made for  his research project, which is looking to optimise fertigation regimes for glasshouse vegetable crops, minimising water and fertiliser inputs to save costs and improve sustainability.

Western Sydney University’s Namal Jayasuriya listens to the Sharks’ suggestions following his live pitch. Credit:Future Food Systems

Namal Jayasuriya followed with a convincing pitch for his work at WSU developing low-cost embedded IoT sensor networks to monitor key parameters such as soil, water and temperature, then coordinate with tools that can and tend the crops accordingly.

Our final PhD student pitch came from UNE’s Angus Dingley, who made an excellent case for the need to investigate pollination of polytunnel-grown raspberries in warmer climates.

PhD students from across the country submitted video presentations on their research.

The judges were hard pressed to determine which student presentations were the best. After considerable deliberation, their top three were UNSW Sydney’s Miranda Yang; Murdoch University’s Charlotte Rowley; and Western Sydney University’s Namal Jayasuriya.

Each of the winning students received a ticket to the For Food’s Sake Summit Gala Dinner at 6HEAD restaurant in Perth this coming February.

We congratulate all the students who submited video presentations and wish them all the best for 2024.

Lead image: The ‘Shark Tank’ panellists listen to a live PhD student pitch. L-R; Dr Alex Soeriyadi, Prof. Brian Sindel, Prof. Cordelia Selomulya. Credit: Future Food Systems