Charles Sturt University
Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation

In the Limelight: Siong Tan

Position: Postdoctoral research fellow

Organisation: Graham Centre, Functional Grains Centre

Career brief

Dr Siong TanI obtained my Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Technology major in Food from Univerisiti Sains Malaysia in 2007.

During the study, I had an opportunity to do placement at the Charles Sturt University Cheese Factory. After I completed my Bachelor‘s degree, I changed track and studied a food management degree in Manchester. I moved to Wagga Wagga in 2009 to do a PhD in Food Biochemistry. I have been with Functional Grains Centre since I graduated in 2013. Initially I was based at CSIRO Werribee but moved back to Wagga Wagga in 2017 for teaching and research mostly at NaLSH and facilities around the winery.

Research and Teaching Activities and Interests

Research activities

I am interested in solving problems. Specifically, I like to create and value-add to an agricultural commodity. I am relatively new compared to other experts in this area. Previous achievement include the development of a method to convert de-fatted canola meal into a high protein ingredient suitable for use in the aquaculture industry. Upon completion, the project was nurtured by the AgriTech Incubator program in preparation for commercialisation. The idea was pitched in front of the Deputy Prime Minister, the Hon Michael McCormack and the public at the end of the program. It is now in the process of patent application prior to progressing further.

My current project is on screening of different Australian sorghum varieties to determine the characteristics ideal for making baijiu – a very popular Chinese distilled spirit usually made from sorghum.

Teaching activities

I had the opportunity to teach a food technology subject and a few chemistry subjects previously. I really enjoy the interaction with students. I find it very rewarding to see them learn and grow throughout the semester. Teaching is a two-way learning process. I like to see their reaction and response to everything happens the class, which helps me to think and push for self-improvement.

Professional links

Professional Member of the Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology (AIFST)

Member of the Australian Grain Science Association (AGSA)

A typical day for me includes …

I normally turn on my computer first thing in the morning and write about my dream. I then have a glass of lukewarm water (exactly 450ml) and read the news from different sources if I still have time before work.

The work routine can be different from week to week depending on the progress just like every other researcher. A combination of lab work, computer work, meeting, planning, emailing basically uses up the day very quickly.

My main project at the moment is …

In the recent few weeks I have been characterising the baijiu made from different sorghum varieties in terms of their volatile compounds using GCMS. Another focus at the moment is on writing up manuscripts.

My favourite part of my job is …

Doing fermentation and see the life cycle of microorganisms over and over again. I also enjoy distilling high ethanol content spirits in the lab.

When I am not in the office I like …

To go to the gym for stress control, go to different supermarkets to check out the bargains of the week- a habit that I picked up when I was a student. I also like to write up my everyday life. (The writing may be good material for a best seller in a later stage and contribute to my retirement fund.)

When I am driving I like to listen to …

ABC news radio that delivers news continuously and offers a range of programs from international partners such BBC, DW and CNN. Occasionally I listen to The Ting Tings, Paramore, Ellie Goulding and Emeli Sande.


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