A J Banks bursary winner Katerina Alba at 12th International Hydrocolloids Conference

21 May 2014

The 12th International Hydrocolloids Conference (IHC) was held in Taipei (Taiwan), from 5-9 April 2014, and mainly focused on the most promising findings in the research of natural hydrocolloids.

The conference programme reflected the recent developments in the sources and applications of functional hydrocolloids within the food and non-food industries. The five-day conference was a large event and included ten plenary talks, over 110 oral and poster presentations and was attended by more than 300 delegates from all over the world.

I was given the opportunity to present parts of my PhD research in an oral presentation. My PhD work is a part of multidisciplinary research project at the University of Huddersfield on the isolation and characterisation of pectin from okra pods and evaluation of its biofunctional role. Two talks were presented entitled 'Isolation and characterization of acetylated LM-pectins from okra pods' as a part of the bioactive food ingredients session and also 'Stabilization of o/w emulsions with Okra pectins in acidic environments' in the Emulsions conference session.

Both presentations raised scientific interest in the development of the okra plant as a new source of natural hydrocolloids, and some valuable comments from well-known pectin researchers were also given during the discussions following the talks.

Attending the conference gave me the opportunity to promote my research to an international audience of scientific peers and industrial representatives and raise my profile in the scientific community. My first publication on okra extracts as emulsifying agents for acidic emulsions in Food Research International was widely promoted within scientific community and also my second submitted paper in the Journal of Carbohydrate Polymers gained increasingly in importance during the discussions with other researchers.

During the talks I was also able to give a professional opinion on some details of other researchers' work and was pleased that my comments were accepted and found valuable. The discussions with researchers from various backgrounds gave me deeper understanding of other research topics and concepts, which can be successfully adopted in my research. I have discussed the corroboration with other research groups and made some beneficial contacts for my future career.

I am grateful to SCI for granting me the A J Banks Travel Bursary and for sponsoring my attendance.

Katerina Alba
University of Huddersfield

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