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Meet the Fellows: Fatema Hossain Brishti

October 31, 2018

A Bangladeshi food scientist is working to produce plant-based protein alternatives to improve nutrition in her country.

Fatema Hossain Brishti, a 2013 OWSD PhD fellow from Bangladesh, is currently completing a full-time fellowship at the Universiti Putri Malaysia, and is on track to receive her PhD in food technology. Learn more about how she is trying to change the way her country approaches nutrition below.  

How did you learn about the OWSD fellowship? How would you say it has impacted your career?

When I was studying food engineering during my undergrad, I realized that this subject is very practical. I would not have a clear picture of the theory I was learning if I did not practice it in the laboratory as well. Hence, I was looking for an opportunity to work as a researcher and learn the essence of my subject. I found OWSD by browsing online, and it was important to me that I didn’t have to take the IELTS [English proficiency] exam in order to apply for the scholarship since my family wasn’t able to bear the cost of it. I am the luckiest woman on Earth to get a scholarship with a fresh undergraduate degree. Since then, my journey began with an MSc leading to PhD research in the field of food processing technology.

It has always been my dream to be a researcher and the OWSD fellowship made it easy for me. I always get my monthly allowance and tuition fees on time which allows me to concentrate and to gain in-depth knowledge in my area of research. 

What are you researching? What first made you interested in this subject?

My research involves fabricating textured foods exclusively from plant proteins. Recently, the concern for healthy diets and the price hike of animal meat has created awareness among consumers of the need to switch to alternatives to meat. For this reason I have chosen to work on the production of alternatives from vegetable-based protein sources.
Food science or food technology is a newly introduced subject in my country. Bangladesh is a country based on agriculture. We have plenty of raw food ingredients which we can turn into functional foods. However, the level of food expertise in Bangladesh is very low. On top of that, there is very little research on new food product development or on the interactions of food macromolecules. So, I am interested in working on the very basic elements of food and in utilizing our own diverse food ingredients, in order to nourish my own country’s people and to boost our economy as well.

Has anything surprised you about your research experience?
It is really surprising that most of the people don’t have a clue what a food technologist or scientist does. Most of the time I am asked if studying food science means I am a chef or if I know how to cook well!

What are your plans for the future? What will you do after you complete your PhD?

In the future, I am planning to do postdoctorate research in my field. Later on I would like to bring more developed technology to my country so that we can improvise our own food system. To do so, I am planning to join one of the universities in my country and to build a food product development-based laboratory.



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