Researcher biography

Professor Yasmina Sultanbawa's research is focused within the agribusiness development framework, specifically in the area of food processing, preservation, food safety and nutrition. Her current research includes the minimisation of post harvest losses through value addition and the search for natural preservatives to replace current synthetic chemicals. In addition, her research area also includes the challenge of nutrition security, in particular micronutrient deficiency (hidden hunger), lack of diet diversity and nutritional losses in the food supply chain, which are addressed by her work with underutilized Australian plant species and potential new crops. Her work on Australian native plant foods is focused on incorporation of these plants in mainstream agriculture and diet diversification Working with indigenous communities to develop nutritious and sustainable value added products from native plants for use in the food, feed, cosmetic and health care industries is a key strategy. The creation of employment, economic and social benefits to these remote communities is an anticipated outcome. She considers it a privilege to engage with these communities and is very passionate that her work will have a positive socio-economic impact.

Research Focus

  • Functional ingredients (natural additives)

Functional food/feed/nutraceutical ingredients with enhanced nutritional and phytochemical profiles are obtained from specialty crops (Australian native plant foods) and industry co/by-products. Natural additives are obtained from raw materials of vegetable, fruit, herbs/spices or microbiological origin. An example is plant extracts which can provide e.g. antioxidants, shelf-life extension (natural antimicrobials), trace-nutrients (vitamins/ minerals) and novel flavours. Innovative technology solutions

  • Novel packaging systems

Development of active, biodegradable packaging material with natural additives for shelf life extension, smart packaging with nanosensors for the effective detection of food contaminants, microperforated packaging systems with optimised modified atmospheres for fresh foods and high barrier packaging material for herbs and spices are practical objectives of her research. Engineered nano-delivery systems for plant bioactives Develop nano-platforms for targeted delivery and controlled release of plant bioactives including antioxidant and antimicrobial products, through testing of in vitro activities and shelf life under various conditions.

  • Photodynamic treatment

Photodynamic treatment or photosensitization is a novel light and photo dye based approach which offers promising alternatives to conventional methods for the control of microorganisms. Plant bioactives such as curcumin has been successfully used to control mycrotoxigenic fungi. This technology has potential as a decontamination tool to reduce the microbial load in food and feed.

  • Food safety

Her research focus in this field includes intervention strategies to inhibit and prevent food-borne pathogens and spoilage organisms in fresh food and beverages, elucidating mechanisms of antimicrobial action, shelf-life extension with natural antimicrobials, retaining bioactivity during processing and storage, search for natural inhibitors from Australian native plants, use of bioactive honey from Leptospermum polygalifolium (Jelly bush) in treating microbial wound infections.