PhD Scholarship in Understanding Food Perception during Spaceflight from Earth (Sensory and Consumer Science)

Does food taste the same in space? This is a fantastic opportunity to study ways to effectively measure flavour perception and food intake during spaceflight from Earth.

The successful applicant will be a key part of a team working on a project to develop and understand:

  1. Factors affecting flavour perception and food intake during spaceflight.
  2. Strategies to stimulate more ecologically valid testing context from Earth.

The value of the Scholarship is equivalent to a standard RMIT Domestic Scholarship. A stipend of $32,841 per annum pro rata (full-time study). This amount is subject to indexation annually.

This Scholarship will be available for up to 3 Years with extension to 3.5 years if required.

Applications are now open.

Applications will be closed on the 31st of March 2022 (11.59pm AEDT). 

One domestic scholarship is available for an enthusiastic student who have demonstrated academic excellence and interest in either sensory and consumer science, psychology, nutrition, food science/technology or other related background.

To be eligible for this scholarship you must:

  • Have a first-class Honours or equivalent or a Masters by Research degree in a relevant discipline of science. 
  • Be an Australian citizen, Australian permanent resident, or New Zealand citizen.
  • Provide evidence of adequate oral and written communication skills.
  • Demonstrate the ability to work as part of a multi-disciplinary research team, learn, work independently and collaboratively, plan, and organise projects in a timely manner.
  • Work with human participants.
  • Motivation, commitment, and self-determination to complete a PhD within 3 years.
  • Meet RMIT’s entry requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy. 

To apply, please submit the following documents to Dr Julia Low (julia.low2@rmit.edu.au). 

Expression of interest should contain the following information:

  • A one-page cover letter briefly outlining your interest in the project and why you think you are the right candidate.
  • Evidence of research ability: A digital copy of a Master’s or Honours’ thesis; and a digital copy of academic transcripts.
  • A CV including any publications, awards, and relevant professional experience.

The astronauts report multiple changes to their senses during spaceflight including a loss of taste for certain foods and often needing to add spices to food which they would not normally have on Earth. Despite many efforts to improve the quality of space food, most space missions showed weight loss in astronauts during spaceflight (Taylor et al., 2020). One of the main reasons for weight loss among astronauts is inadequate dietary energy intake, possibly due to many factors including changes in our senses (Taylor et al., 2020).   At present, there are limited published work on developing strategies to effectively stimulate more ecologically valid testing context from Earth. Therefore, this project will investigate factors affecting flavour perception and food intake during space flight using strategies to stimulate ecologically valid lab-based eating environment from Earth. Background and interest in sensory and consumer science (including understanding of perception science) and/or eating behaviour methodologies will be relevant to this project.   Supervision Team: Dr Julia Low, Dr Gail Iles and Professor Charles Brennan  Reference: Taylor, A. J., Beauchamp, J. D., Briand, L., Heer, M., Hummel, T., Margot, C., ... & Spence, C. (2020). Factors affecting flavor perception in space: Does the spacecraft environment influence food intake by astronauts?. Comprehensive reviews in food science and food safety, 19(6), 3439-3475.

If you would like to know more about this opportunity, please contact Dr Julia Low (julia.low2@rmit.edu.au) by email. 

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Acknowledgement of country

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business - Artwork 'Luwaytini' by Mark Cleaver, Palawa.