Faculty of Mathematics and Physical Sciences

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The Faculty holds the Athena SWAN Bronze Award which recognises our commitment to providing equality for women in mathematics and science

Dr Caroline Orfila
Director of Research
Associate Professor in Nutrition 
School of Food Science and Nutrition

Can you give me an overview of your current research?
My current research is mainly focused on understanding the structure and function of food carbohydrates (starch and fibre polysaccharides) in determining food quality and nutritional properties. I have projects looking at how agricultural and climatic conditions affect crop quality.

What made you want to pursue a career in academia?
My dad is a chemical engineer and he worked in the food and perfume industry. Since I was a small child, he would bring me natural flavours in little glass vials, and he would make me guess what they were. I used to have a ‘lab’ in my garden in Mexico City where I grew up and I would make concoctions out of herbs and flowers. I guess I was always interested in science, and had a keen interest in plants. I came to Leeds to study for a BSc in Biochemistry and Food Science (Combined Honours). I was attracted by the University’s reputation in both Food and Plant Sciences. I did my final year project in Bill Mackie’s lab looking at sugar beet pectin. This was my first taste of working in a research laboratory, and I knew then I wanted to work in research and pursue an academic career.

I enjoy working with people from different disciplines and countries/cultures. Having a job that allows me to pursue my interests in food, nutrition and plant science to address health issues is a dream come true.

What advice would you give to a female looking to pursue a scientific career?
My advice to people wanting to pursue an academic career in science is to spend some time in a laboratory abroad. It makes you realise that there are scientists all over the world, some of which are interested in the same obscure subject as yourself!