FoodGrads Podcast Ep 27: Changing the future of food safety with education with Anthony Pius Bassey, Ph.D. Student at the National Center of Meat Quality and Safety Control
On episode 27 of the FoodGrads podcast Veronica interviewed Anthony Pius Bassey. Anthony is a Ph.D. research student at the National Center of Meat Quality and Safety Control, College of Food Science and Technology, Nanjing Agricultural University. His research area is Meat Microbiology. His current research is to elucidate predominant meat spoilers in pork loins using transcriptomic-proteomic integration.
That’s a bit of a mouthful! In this episode Anthony and I talked about the graduate school experience. What it is like being a researcher, how to do research, get published in a research journal and what exactly is an impact factor. Anthony explained to me more about his research and walked me through the cold-storage process. We also dived into Anthony’s passion for food safety, where it comes from and where he wants to take to take it.
It is always cool to be able to talk to people who are passionate about what they do. I still find it amazingly impressive how much Anthony has been able to produce from a researcher standpoint in such a short amount of time. So make sure to check out some of Anthony’s work’s after the episode.
[2:24] Could you tell us who you are and what you are doing?
- Anthony grew up in a small town within Nigeria as the last child in the family. He was inspired by his elders to learn and looking to prevent things from happening rather curing it. The way people can perceive him from the outside is different than who he is on the inside.
[3:40] Can you tell us about your career journey and how those steps led you to being a doctoral student?
- Right now Anthony is working on spoilage of meats but afterwards he is considering going into the industry because he wants to apply the things he has learned and starting making a change. Coming from a place of malnutrition, food adulteration you really want to make a change. He is building his knowledge now so when it gets out there he can begin making that change.
[5:35] What are some of the the big food issues you are seeing?
- Buttergate for example. Anthony is currently studying the elucidating spoilage- controlling the whole proliferation of bacteria in the cold-chain perspective.
- Anthony is unsure what he is going to do after graduation so he is not limited to a certain space. So he is building up enough of a background he can take it to many areas.
[7:30] Can you tell me more about the cold supply chain?
- There are two types of bacteria, pathogenic and spoilage. Pathogenic can cause diseases and get people sick. Anthony is not working on that side but instead the side where the food doesn’t make you sick but isn’t desirable and you want to throw it out.
- In the cold chain you store your meat in the cold (like 4°C), your pork, chicken and beef. Anthony’s research is looking at chilling and superchilling conditions. Even at these really cold temperature there are some bacteria which can grow and Anthony is examining the mechanism.
- The lab Anthony works with a focus on meats. He has seen some research papers which have shown the the addition to the gases to the packaging can also help
- Anthony is fascinated with the value adding of the food processing industry. The master’s level was understanding the processing all around. However, when you get to the PhD level you need to narrow it down. PhD focuses on one thing very specifically. Anthony needs to focus on just pork because it is becoming big in his country.
[15:15]Anthony and Veronica talking about the PhD experience
- Graduate school is about focusing on a particular topic. Anthony spends a lot of time focusing on planning his experiments. A lot of top journals will ask you about the novelty of a design. If you jump into the experiments without planning what can end up happening is when you get to the review stage you are asked questions you didn’t figure out during planning. Anthony avoids that by planning in advance.
- What can end up happening is that your paper is rejected and all of the work that you completed goes to waste.
[18:35] Can you give a better understanding of what it is like to be in graduate school and the things that you do?
- First, you will only notice Anthony only published his first paper last year. There are even blunders there but he has grown from that.
- To start you have to write a plan, a proposal to be in graduate school. When Anthony gave his proposal to his supervisor he was told that this is something that has already been done 5 years ago. You need to bring me something that hasn’t already been done.
- Ask yourself why you want to go grad school. Then ask what you are going to do with it. It gives you drive to get to what you want to achieve.
- Start reading papers which have recently been published. Researcher move on when there is a new technology that comes. You had to figure out how to use this new technology.
- Last year, Anthony wrote a lot of proposals that his supervisor didn’t like. He kept reading and reading. Trying to find places where there are wholes in the work. Start first by finding a problem and the most innovative way to solve it.
[23:00] Anthony and Veronica starts talking about academic journals and their impact factors
- In China in Anthony’s lab he has to publish a paper before he graduates.
- Not every scientific journal has the same impact factor. There are ones with a higher impact based on the peer review and how many people cite it
[25:40] Where does your passion for food safety come from?
- Application and applying information is something that has interested him. Food safety is a way to keep food safe. By learning Anthony knows that he can make an impact and a change. Anthony could see after taking the Risk Optimization training that this is something he could learn and apply
[29:00] Veronica and Anthony talking about the food safety
- For Anthony it isn’t just about getting a PhD. This PhD allows him to learn about issues going on around the globe and seeing that problems don’t leave. The idea can Anthony change things for a sense of purpose. You have to work and persevere.
- Veronica says that people working in food safety are the heroes. Highlighting that these are the people who are keeping us safe.
- Food is important and it is something you can’t go without. It is important to your house. It becomes a field that people have to put a lot of time and resources in. There are so many steps in the process.
- People can look down on food safety jobs even though these jobs are so important
[37:15] Is there any books, podcasts or people should check out in the food safety world?
- Anthony use to read a lot of traditional books but so much lately
- Instead, now he keeps notifications when Journals released and when whatever is related to his field he will read. It is all about keeping up to date
- Make sure to join food science associations like the Canadian Institute of Food Science. Pay attention to the places that can connect you to people with like minds. It can help you to figure out what you want to go into. Anthony has met a lot of great people through the association and have helped him. It will challenge you to figure out what you want to know and you can attend webinars
[44:29] Do you have any advice when things are intimidating?
- Start small. Even starting with making a LinkedIn profile is a good thing.
- Work on whatever your goals are related to.
- People are generally really nice but be precise on what you want
- Work on yourself
Where you can find Anthony
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