A number of PhD scholarships are currently available for the Industrial Transformation Training Centre for Food Safety in Fresh Produce, funded by the Australian Research Council, which will open next year.

Applications close soon so people interested in undertaking a PhD in this world-leading centre at the University of Sydney are encouraged to apply now.

In 2017, the research centre dedicated to minimising the risk of contamination fresh fruit and vegetables will be launched at the University of Sydney. The Centre, jointly funded by the Australian Research Council and the fresh produce industry, has openings for nine Doctoral students.

Each of the nine PhD candidates will be associated with unique research project co-funded by different industry partners. Projects are designed to address specific knowledge gaps, which have been identified in consultation with industry and research partners.

Research projects will focus on detection and control of microbes, risk minimisation, safe practices across the supply chain, and development of rapid detection methods that will support effective surveillance, and decision-making and response to outbreaks of food-borne illness.

Everyone knows fresh fruit and vegetables are important for health and wellbeing but the effectiveness of production and marketing can be complicated by contamination of fruit and vegetables with food-borne pathogens: examples include the recall of frozen berries in 2015 because of links with Hepatitis A and, more recently, the recall of rockmelons grown in Northern Territory because of Salmonella contamination.

While these outbreaks are rare in Australia, researchers in Australia and New Zealand are actively working to try to better understand these events, and how they can be prevented.

Professor Robyn McConchie from the University of Sydney, who will be leading the new research team, said the ARC Training Centre for Food Safety in the Fresh Produce Industry provided an important opportunity for research and learning. “This project is unique in that industry partners will be actively engaged in the research and will host postgraduate students in their businesses to enable them to gain a better understanding of the food safety risks,” Professor McConchie said.

Application links are via sydney.edu.au/news/agriculture/1271.html