PhD project - Food Science/Food Technology

Factors determining the stability and functionality of UHT whipping cream

Synlait is a rapidly expanding dairy processing company present at six locations within New Zealand including an existing factory in Dunsandel and a new factory being built at Pokeno. The company has a Research and Development centre hosted by Massey University, Palmerston North. This centre has a team experienced in the fields of food and nutritional sciences, and food processing and engineering that will provide guidance to the PhD student.

Massey University has grown from a small agricultural college in Palmerston North to encompass three campuses spread over three cities in the North Island. The Food Technology Group is present at both the Palmerston North and Albany campuses. The Bachelor of Food Technology (Hons) degree is accredited by the US-based Institute of Food Technologists (IFT). Research and development in food science and technology is a key focus of Massey, which has extensive laboratory and pilot plant facilities (FoodPilot, Palmerston North).

About the role

This PhD studentship is based within the Food Technology Group at Palmerston North. The project seeks to develop the fundamental knowledge necessary to support a broader product development programme at Synlait. The project is centred on UHT cream, which is a core product for Synlait.

It is envisioned that the candidate will:

  • Identify and refine methods suitable for examining the microstructural and physico-chemical properties (at relevant length scales) of the emulsion and whipped foam.
  • Determine the influence of feed material properties on emulsion structure and stability.
  • Determine the impact of composition and formulation levers on emulsion structure and stability e.g. stabilisers & emulsifiers, changing fat type, presence and state of proteins and minerals on the interactions.
  • Determine the impact of processing on emulsion structure and stability.


We are seeking an outstanding PhD candidate whose duties will include:

  • Presenting a research seminar and written report to gain confirmation of PhD programme registration one year after starting.
  • Meeting regularly with supervisors to discuss plans and results.
  • Presenting plans for research and experimental protocols to supervisors for review prior to carrying out research.
  • Designing and completing experimental trials.
  • Measuring microstructural and physico-chemical properties of samples.
  • Carrying out data analysis.
  • Writing a PhD thesis, including an extensive literature review, 3-5 research chapters and a general discussion.
  • Submitting manuscripts to journals, including a review article and at least two research articles, before the thesis is submitted.
  • Complying with Health and Safety Policies as set by Massey University, and at all times have consideration for the safety of yourself and others in the workplace. Ensuring legislative compliance, (e.g., Department of Labour, HSNO, EPA Animal Ethics) and appropriate data security.


You will have:

  • A relevant master’s or honour’s degree with First or Second Class Honours (Div 1) in Food Science, Technology or Engineering, or an associated subject with a grade sufficient to gain entry into a PhD. The qualification must also include a substantive research project.
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills (IELTS score of 6.5 or equivalent required, if English is not first language).
  • Good interpersonal skills
  • Strong analytical and problem solving skills
  • Diligence, resilience and enthusiasm
  • Previous working experience in the food industry is preferred.


The three-year studentship, funded by Synlait, includes an annual tax-free stipend of NZD$35,000 plus tuition fees. As the successful candidate you will be enrolled and located at Massey University in Palmerston North, and will:

  • Have the opportunity to take part in leading edge research;
  • Be a part of a successful multidisciplinary research team;
  • Develop your career as an independent researcher.
  • PhD Supervisors: Patrick Janssen and Lara Matia-Merino (both Massey), and Emmanuelle Riou (Synlait).

How to Apply

For further information on the PhD opportunity, please contact or and we will be happy to discuss with you.

Closing date

Closing date for applications is the end of December 2019 preferably with the ability to start the PhD March 2020.

Please email your application in the form of

  • A covering letter addressing why you are the ideal candidate
  • Your CV
  • Your academic transcripts


For further information on Massey University see and for postgraduate study see


  • Dr Patrick Janssen

    Dr Patrick Janssen

    Senior Lecturer in Food Science - School of Food and Advanced Technology


logos for UHT project

Contact us Mon - Fri 8:30am to 4:30pm 0800 MASSEY (+64 6 350 5701) TXT 5222 Web chat Staff Alumni News Māori @ Massey