International prize for CSU research student


Thursday 11 May 2017

Research into canola processing and the effect on bioactive components in the oil has earned a Charles Sturt University (CSU) PhD student international recognition.

Ms Clare Flakelar, who is a member of the Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation, was presented with a student excellence award at the American Oil Chemists' Society (AOCS) conference in Florida in the United States.

Her research is examining how canola oil processing affects the concentration of bioactive compounds.

"Many bioactive components in canola oil are linked to beneficial health effects," Ms Flakelar said. "For example commercial canola seed contains lutein, a bioactive compound with the potential to prevent macular degeneration.

"But these components, particularly carotenoids, tocopherols and sterols, are reduced or eliminated entirely during current commercial oil production.

"My research involves assessing the behaviour and influence of certain factors on these bioactive components, primarily the effects of genotype, the storage of seed and oil, and the processing from seed to oil.

"My goal is to provide industry with some of the information they need to pursue the retention or enhancement of bioactive compounds in end-product oil for consumer health benefit."

Ms Flakelar said it was a thrill to be presented with the award and to present her research at the conference.

"The ACOS Processing Division has a long history, and to stand in front of its distinguished members, many of whom have written patents and developed their own techniques that are used within the oils and fats industry, was an honour.

"The AOCS annual conference is a perfect platform to extend our research to a combination of international industries and researchers, and I count myself extremely fortunate to be given the chance to attend and present.

"This year's conference included presentations from a broad range of topics, and involved some of the most esteemed lipid chemists."

Ms Flakelar's research is supervised by Associate Professor Paul Prenzler from CSU's School of Agricultural and Wine Sciences.

"This award is open to postgraduate students from all over the world,"  Professor Prenzler said. "Not only is this award well-deserved for Clare's hard work, but it also shows that the Graham Centre has the capacity to undertake world-class research in oils chemistry.

"Clare has already published her work in some of the best food chemistry journals, and there are more high quality papers to come. On top of this academic success she has developed strong links with oil processors in Australia who are very excited about the possibilities her research opens up to develop new products."

Ms Flakelar's PhD research is funded by a Graham Centre University Research Scholarship and a Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) Grains Industry Research Scholarship.


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Media contact: Emily Malone , (02) 6933 4401

Media Note:

Ms Clare Flakelar is based in Brisbane. For interviews, please contact Graham Centre communications officer Ms Emily Malone (o2) 6933 4401 or 0439 552 385.

The Graham Centre is a research alliance between CSU and the NSW Department of Primary Industries.