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The 2nd International Trainee Symposium in Agri-Food, Nutrition, and Health took place at the Richardson Centre for Food Technology and Research at the University of Manitoba on January 25-26, 2024. Building on the success of last year’s inaugural symposium hosted by the Canadian Centre for Agri-Food Research in Health and Medicine (CCARM) and the CCARM Rapid Fire Research Symposiums in 2017 and 2019, this year’s event was a collaborative effort between the Department of Food and Human Nutritional Sciences (FHNS) at the University of Manitoba and CCARM.

Leadership and Organization

Dr. Cristina Rosell, the department head of Food and Human Nutritional Sciences and a member of the Institute of Agrochemistry and Food Technology of the Spanish National Research Council, served as the chair of the event. The co-chairs included Dr. Thomas Netticadan, Dr. Nicola Gasparre, Jenny Bouchard, Brad Feltham, Dr. Ruchira Nandasiri, and Pam Gauthier. The Food and Human Nutritional Sciences Graduate Student Association also played an active role in organizing the event.

Symposium Highlights

The symposium featured keynote speakers Rajeev Koyal from IDEA Start! and Dr. Pratap Pati from IC-IMPACTS, alongside presentations from 80 trainees across 10 countries. Utilizing a rapid-fire presentation format, trainees had seven minutes to present their research problems, findings, and significance to the fields of agri-food, nutrition, and health. Overseas participants presented virtually, making this hybrid event a global platform for knowledge exchange.

A total of 142 attendees, both in-person and online, engaged with the latest developments in the agri-food value chain. “The event is a significant forum for showcasing outstanding research by graduate students worldwide and a valuable networking platform for fostering professional development,” said Dr. Rosell.

Growing Global Interest

Dr. Thomas Netticadan, CCARM Team Leader, noted the increasing global interest in the International Trainee Symposium. He highlighted the strong partnership between CCARM and the Department of Food and Human Nutritional Sciences over the past two years, emphasizing the event’s role in creating accessible global platforms for disseminating research on the agri-food value chain.

Event co-chair Dr. Nicola Gasparre underscored the symposium’s purpose in facilitating research knowledge translation and networking, which are crucial for students’ professional growth. “Research communication is essential for sharing and disseminating the latest advancements in understanding the relationship between food, nutrition, and health. Additionally, promoting trainee research is vital for developing the next generation of investigators,” said Dr. Gasparre.

Trainee Feedback and Success

One trainee from Spain noted, “It is a great idea to have these short communication modalities to share researchers’ work. The presentations have been impressive, covering topics like nutritional improvement, by-product valorization, and food characterization, which are crucial for achieving a sustainable bio-economy.”

Presentation Winners

Session I: Food Science and Technology

  • 1st Place: Carla Navarro Molina, UofM-University of Valencia, Spain – “Exploring Rhodiola rosea and Eleutherococcus senticosus as food ingredients”
  • 2nd Place: Ubaida Adamu Muhammad, Far Eastern Federal University, Russia – “Extraction and application of bioactive compounds from Senna occidentalis to fortify yoghurt”

Session II: Food Science and Technology

  • 1st Place: Leire Cantero-Ruiz de Eguino, University of the Basque Country, Spain – “Healthy, safe, and sustainable gluten-free bread based on the valorization of local ingredients: apple pomace and flaxseed”
  • 2nd Place: Ainhoa Vicente Fernandez, University of Valladolid, Spain – “Microwave-assisted hydrothermal treatment of quinoa grains as a tool to adapt the flour technological functionality”

Session III: Food Science and Technology

  • 1st Place: Ángel Luis Gutierrez de la Fuente, University of Valladolid, Spain – “New approach to improve gluten-free bakery products: high hydrostatic pressure treatment of nutrient-rich whole grains”
  • 2nd Place: Joana Martínez-Martí, Polytechnic University of Valencia, Spain – “Influence of physical treatments on the dietary fiber content and the techno-functional properties of clementine pomace”

Session IV: Nutrition

  • 1st Place: Shiqi Huang, University of Manitoba – “Transcriptome data show that the effects of DHA on endothelial cells are growth state dependent”
  • 1st Place: Chelsey Walchuk, University of Manitoba – “Assessing the impact of obesity and flaxseed consumption on the growth and lipidomic profile of the prostate in the JCRrat model of metabolic syndrome.”

Session V: Agriculture

  • 1st Place: Joana Sofia Gomes Dias, University of Minho, Portugal – “Subcritical water hydrolysis for the production of gelling and bioactive algae extracts”
  • 2nd Place: Bianca Marques, University of Minho, Portugal – “Pressurized liquid hydrolysis of meat and bone meal to obtain two valuable fractions: protein and minerals.”

Session VI: Food Chemistry

  • 1st Place: Dinushi Kaushalya Gamage, Dalhousie University, Canada – “Microencapsulation of fermented wild blueberry to improve the stability and bioactivity of (poly)phenols”
  • 2nd Place: Daiana Santos de Almeida, Polytechnic Institute of Bragança, Portugal – “Biochemical profile of beetroot genotypes”

Session VII: Food Science and Technology

  • 1st Place: Sathsara Deyalage, University of Manitoba – “Exploring the nutritional potential and starch digestibility characteristics of underutilized ancient wheat species.”
  • 2nd Place: Kofi Owusu Akyaw Oduro, University of Manitoba – “Chickpea as a sustainable protein ingredient source: Improving sustainability in protein processing”

Session VIII: Food Science and Technology

  • 1st Place: Chamali Kodikara, University of Manitoba – “Bioactive compounds in Canadian Prairie Berries: A Comprehensive study on phenolic compounds, fatty acids, phytosterols, terpenoids, and their antioxidant and anti-hypertensive activities”
  • 2nd Place: Vidheesha Abeysinghe, University of Manitoba – “Improving material properties of Canola Protein-based packaging materials via ammonium persulphate-induced protein crosslinking and cohesive interactions”

Looking Ahead

Congratulations to the CCARM trainees Chamali Kodikara, Chelsey Walchuk, and Shiqi Huang for their achievements! CCARM’s next event is a three-day hybrid convention titled “International Conference on the Advances in Health Benefits of Agri-Foods” scheduled for October 2-4, 2024, featuring invited presentations by established investigators and trainees.

Stay tuned for the 3rd International Trainee Symposium in Agri-Food, Nutrition, and Health, expected to take place in 2025.