Postgraduate Cafe for Research Students June 2017

Postgraduate Café for UCC Research Students – Summer 2017

On Wednesday June 28th from 11am to 1pm we will be sponsoring another Postgrad Cafe for UCC Research Students in the Postgraduate Common Room, No. 4 Carrigside

DAY: Wednesday June 28th

TIME: 11am to 1pm

WHERE: Postgraduate Common Room, No. 4 Carrigside (no. 17 grid reference F6 on this map)

We will provide coffee, tea, biscuits and handmade Irish chocolate, yes handmade Irish chocolate by Ó’Conaill’s Cork.

This is a chance for UCC research postgraduate students to meet other students and use the university postgraduate common room. This is a friendly and comfortable environment to meet other students for both social and academic conversations. We encourage our students to come along, enjoy a hot drink and meet some of the UCC research student community.

Please email for more information.

The Impact of Biofuels on Food Security: From Global to Local

by Stephen Thornhill

Biofuel production rose sharply in the early years of the new millennium as governments promoted their use in petrol and diesel fuels as a way of reducing fossil fuel use and encouraging rural development. However, in recent years biofuels have been criticized for causing increased hunger by reducing food availability and driving up global food prices.

Biofuels are made from various feedstocks, including maize, sugar cane, oilseeds and by-products such as molasses, and they also produce large volumes of co-products in their production processes, particularly protein meals for animal feed. A number of biofuel feedstock operations have been established in developing countries to either supply local needs or for export to processors in developed economies.

In contrast to much of the media coverage and public perception surrounding the food versus fuel debate, Stephen’s thesis finds that biofuel operations can, under the right conditions, help improve food security in rural areas of low-income countries where poverty and hunger is most rife. It also finds little evidence that biofuels have significantly reduced global food availability or have been responsible for rising food prices over the past decade.

The results of household surveys in Mozambique and Tanzania showed that those households with employees of biofuel operations were likely to be significantly more food-secure than other households in the same locality. His analysis, which controlled for key influences on food security, such as household size and crop area, confirmed “biofuel involvement” as a significant factor behind a better food security status. Most households involved in biofuel operations attributed their improved food security to better and more stable income from salaried employment.

Stephen’s analysis of the global biofuel sector found that the rise in the biofuel feedstock area over the past decade represented little more than 1 per cent of the world’s arable and permanent crop acreage. It also found little evidence that US biofuel production (the world’s largest producer), had accounted for any substantial proportion of maize price changes over the past decade. Moreover, there appeared to be limited transmission between US maize prices, used as the global benchmark, and local maize prices in Mozambique and Tanzania.

Stephen also developed a novel food security indicator during the study – the Household Nutrient Deficit Score. The new metric and its methodology can help measure the impact of agri-based and other interventions on food and nutrition security, assisting policymakers, private sector operations and organisations involved in such projects, as well as those involved in sustainable certification systems. Stephen is currently seeking funding to improve the metric and methodology further and develop an app-based tool for use on ipads and phones.

Food research scholarships available at UCC

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Food Research at University College Cork, Ireland
Lauritzson Research Scholarships

UCC invites applications for the first Lauritzson Research Scholarships which have been established in honour of the late Dr Lauritzson to promote research in food science and food-related disciplines.  These scholarships aim to support students and integrate them into the academic, social and cultural aspects of University College Cork. The scholarships are targeted at high performing students proposing to undertake impactful research, possibly of an inter-disciplinary nature, at the highest level in the broad area of food science under a supervisor or supervision team with significant experience in the area.


Students who have attained at least at least Second Class Honours, Grade 1 (or equivalent) in an appropriate degree are eligible to apply for a PhD or MSc Research degree at UCC.   The scholarship consists of student stipend of €16,000 and €12,000 towards tuition fees and laboratory consumables. The scholarship is tenable for two or four years, depending on the course of study (i.e. MSc or PhD).

Applications should be inspired by the values/ethos of the sponsorship programme, which in turn reflect those of Dr Torre Lauritzson whose interest was in food research that had an impact on industry. He was passionate in his desire to increase educational standards and to see research applied for the betterment of society. Please see biography of Dr Lauritzson below. His name is synonymous with innovation and he took immense pleasure in taking an idea, developing it, improving it and successfully bringing it to the market. These successes were evident in areas of high technical demands as well as those with strong marketing requirements.

Prospective applicants are advised to consult with the Head of relevant School/Department and with the proposed supervisor to discuss their area of research prior to making an application to the Lauritzson Food Research Scholarship programme. Students should also apply for their PhD/MSc via the online Postgraduate Application Centre ( prior to applying for this scholarship, as this forms part of the selection criteria.

Terms & Conditions:

Students must have attained at least at least Second Class Honours, Grade 1 (or equivalent) in an appropriate degree, and be pursuing a research programme in a food related discipline.

The Lauritzson Research Scholarships will have a value of €28,000 per annum, tenable for two or four academic years (depending on whether the successful applicant is pursuing a MSc or PhD) and includes a student bursary of €16,000 per annum, tuition fees and a budget for laboratory consumables to support the student’s research.

Prospective scholars must have applied for their research programme via the online Postgraduate Application Centre ( prior to applying for this scholarship and are advised to do so at least 2 months in advance of the desired start date of 1st October. Students must also provide written confirmation of support from a proposed supervisor.

Successful candidates will be selected on the basis of their PAC and scholarship applications in the first instance, and may be called to interview, if required.  Two references, at least one academic, are also required.

Students may not be in receipt of any other scholarship funding.

For more detailed information on the regulations for UCC research degrees, please refer to:


The Lauritzson Scholarship Application Form is available here.

The student selection will be at the discretion of the Lauritzson Research Scholarships Selection Committee to be established at UCC. The Committee will be comprise

  • the Head of the College of Science, Engineering & Food Science or his/her nominee
  • a representative from the Lauritzson Foundation
  • a representative from the UCC Development Office
  • two members of the Food Strategy Group to be rotated on an annual basis and to include at least one Head of School

The committee will meet at least once a year and as deemed necessary.

Successful applicants must confirm their intention to take up the Scholarship within ten days of notification and if necessary, arrange visa requirements via the International Education Office, UCC.

Academic staff can only supervise or co-supervise one student funded under this scheme at any one time.

University College Cork will endeavour to provide teaching/demonstrating opportunities for the research student when appropriate. Should a teaching/demonstrating opportunity be arranged by the University, the recipient will provide teaching and examining (if required) in an area reasonably compatible with his/her expertise, and for a number of hours (to a maximum of three per week) as agreed by the University, the recipient and the recipient’s Supervisor at UCC.

Evaluation of applications

Evaluation of applications will take into account (a) the details provided through the PAC application and (b) the merits of the applicant with particular focus on the impact, quality, feasibility and relevance of the proposed project.

Selection of successful applicants for shortlisting on the basis of the materials supplied will be made by the Lauritzson Research Scholarships Committee. This Committee (or a subset of the Committee) will conduct interviews if required.

The award of the Lauritzson Research Scholarship will take place only if the Committee is satisfied that there is a candidate of sufficient merit.


Recipients of the Lauritzson Scholarship and his/her supervisor at the UCC must submit reports as outlined below to the Lauritzson Research Scholarship Committee. If the progress reports are deemed unsatisfactory, the scholarship may be terminated:

MSc programme: Two reports, one after 12 months, and a second at the end of the programme

PhD programme: Four reports, at the end of each year (1-3) and on completion of PhD


Applicants are required to submit two references along with the application form and personal statement. If you graduated within the last five years, at least one of these references should be from a lecturer or tutor. Applicants who have graduated more than five years ago or who may be coming from a non-academic background should provide references from an employer or another appropriate individual who can comment on academic ability. References from relatives or friends will not be accepted.

Dr Torre Lauritzson 1913-1984

Torre Lauritzson was a man of many parts, a man with many hats. Throughout his life he donned and doffed his many hats and played his many parts as the technical need arose, as his vision dictated, as a business opportunity presented itself. The one part he never relinquished, the drive that never diminished throughout his life was his entrepreneurial core. Torre took immense pleasure in taking an idea, developing it, improving it, taking it to the market and earning profit from it. He achieved success in areas with high technical demands and in areas with strong marketing requirements both with equal facility.

Torre Lauritzson graduated from Stockholm University in 1936 with an MSc in Chemical Engineering. He joined the Swedish Sugar Co. that same year, and there donned his inventor’s hat, developing and patenting new methods for improving sugar yields. In 1941 he left the sugar industry to join Findus AB which later became part of the Nestle Group. There he donned his food chemist and innovator’s hat and developed for Findus a wide range of convenience food dishes. The need to improve quality and extend shelf life became paramount so in 1946/47 Torre went to the US on a 6 month study tour. While on that tour Torre met with Clarence Birdseye, the father of the modern frozen food industry.

During his visit to the US Torre became convinced of the essential role of the refrigerated warehouse/freezing facility in the future growth of the convenience/frozen food industry. He returned to Sweden and in 1948 left Findus, donned his pioneer’s hat and founded a company that in time became Frigoscandia AB a worldwide refrigerated warehousing group. Allied to the development of the warehousing network Torre, putting on his chemical engineering hat, founded Frigoscandia Contracting AB which became perhaps the most significant refrigeration engineering company in the world. Located in Helsingborg, Sweden the company developed many of the in-line freezers used in modern frozen food production lines all over the globe. Among the freezers developed were the FloFreeze, GyroFreeze, CartoFreeze and PelloFreeze. Frigoscandia Contracting also developed the FrigoPanel used in the building of refrigerated warehouses worldwide.

In the research laboratories in Helsingborg, with Torre’s help and guidance, was developed a comprehensive data base dealing with the chilling, freezing, thawing, conditioning, handling and storage of a wide range of food products ranging from prime raw materials to consumer ready prepared dishes.

In the 1970’s Torre again donned his innovation hat and drove the design and development of the “Mobile Freezer” concept. This enabled a freezing source to be taken directly to the point of harvesting, the field, the quayside, the orchard. Torre firmly believed that “catching” the product as early as possible was the key to reducing the yield losses, slowing down the deterioration process, improving the quality of the raw material going to the production line and thereby improving the final product going to the consumer. A mobile freezing service helped in the search for that quality.

The hat that Torre donned most often was his entrepreneur’s one. Torre was first and foremost a businessman, an ideas man. He relished the process of taking an idea, developing it through the technical phases and then successfully to market. Apart altogether from his worldwide success in the refrigeration warehousing and contracting business Torre Lauritzson owned the biggest egg producer in Sweden. He developed an apparatus to make lawn fertilizer pellets from poultry manure. He was a fruit farmer, a restaurateur, a pub owner, a meat plant owner. He developed a successful hamburger business.

Torre Lauritzson visited Ireland in the early 1960’s. He was impressed with the potential of the agri-sector and believed Ireland could develop into the “Food Larder” of Europe. In 1967 he built his first refrigerated warehouse in Midleton, Co. Cork which became the nucleus of the NCS Group. Torre died in 1984 and bequeathed his Irish assets to the Lauritzson Foundation to be used for the benefit of Ireland and in particular the improvement in job opportunities through education.

Torre Lauritzson’s contribution to the development of food freezing, handling and storage know how was remarkable. He saw the industry as a vital link in getting harvested product, vegetable, animal or marine from the point of production to the final consumer in as optimum a condition as possible. He believed in, supported and funded research which had innovative and practical applications as this brief account of his achievements demonstrates. He was truly the founding father of the modern European Temperature Controlled industry. Indeed a remarkable man.