The Functional Grains Centre has celebrated the acheivements of two graduates, Dr Kyah Hester and Dr Rebecca Heim, awarded the PhDs By Charles Sturt University in December 2018.
PhD examines gluten-free choices
Dr Hester’s PhD titled ‘Gluten avoidance – trendy food fad, or insight into complex psycho-physiological interactions?’ helps to identify the drivers of non-prescribed gluten avoidance.
“Up to 20 per cent of the population is estimated to take part in gluten avoidance behaviours, far exceeding the number of people with gluten-related disorders such as coeliac disease,” Dr Hester said.
“My research involved an in-depth study of non-prescribed gluten avoiders to measure participants’ perceptions, determinants of food choice, interpersonal experiences relating to their diets and a wide range of psychological variables, including personality traits.”
“This research is the first to establish clear and distinct symptomology relating to non-gluten foods, indicating that this population is more accurately characterised by their response to all foods, not just gluten alone.
”Gluten avoiders also exhibited distinct personality features that are likely to manipulate their attention to and interpretation of internal sensations. These findings are particularly important for health practitioners to consider both in the diagnosis and treatment phase of these individuals.”
Dr Hester was awarded a scholarship by the Functional Grains Centre. Funded by the Australian Government through the ARC Industrial Transformation Training Centres scheme, the FGC is administered by CSU and is an initiative of the Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation.
Research to improve quality of oilseed meals
Dr Rebecca Heim’s PhD research has shown refining oil-extraction techniques could improve the quality of Australian oilseed meals used as a supplement in feed for livestock.
Dr Heim’s research investigated the nutritional and digestibility characteristics of canola meal for livestock.
“The PhD included a benchmark quantitative survey of general and digestibility characteristics of protein for ruminants in Australian produced oilseed such as canola, soybean, cottonseed, and flaxseed meals,” Dr Heim said.
“The research found that the ruminal digestibility of protein differed between oilseed types and oil-extraction techniques including cold-press, expeller and solvent-extraction, and that crude protein content in canola meal consistently varied between cultivars.”
Dr Heim hopes that the information can be used by meal producers and end-users to enhance feed ration formulations and provide better indications of animal performance.
“The studies also highlight opportunities to improve the quality of Australian oilseed meals by refining oil-extraction technique conditions,” Dr Heim said.
Dr Heim’s research was funded by the Australian Government through the ARC Industrial Transformation Training Centres scheme and was supported by industry partner MSM Milling. Dr Heim was based at CSIRO in Werribee, Victoria.