I was very grateful to receive an MSB Early-Career Researcher grant in April 2015 from the Society of Biology, which supported my attendance to the International Symposium on Phytochemicals in Medicine & Food (ISPMF2015, Shanghai – CHINA). The event took place between 26th and 29th June 2015 at Shanghai Normal University, and was my first opportunity to present at an international conference.
ISPMF is an international platform for the exchange of the latest research in plant bio-active compounds for food-flavour and human health. I presented my new reproducible, qualitative and quantitative method for profiling constituent volatile flavour compounds in vanilla extracts, in conjunction with thermal-desorption gas chromatograph time-of-flight mass spectrometry (TD-GC-ToF MS).
The conference was a joint venture between the Phytochemical Society of Europe and the Phytochemical Society of Asia. Three hundred delegates were in attendance from over 48 countries; with 120 posters on display, 12 keynote speakers and 75 lectures. My presentation took place during the session on ‘Isolation and structure elucidation of natural products’ on Saturday 27th June, and I was delighted to be awarded Best Lecture of the conference with a grant from the Phytochemical Society of Europe.
During the conference there were many interesting lectures on tea phytochemicals for nutraceutical applications and human well-being – as well as ginseng, rice varieties and essential oils from spices. The importance of soils and environmental factors on the phytochemical profile of key crops were also highlighted through a series of pre- and post-harvest treatment talks to make the most of bi-products of the food industry (for example hops, wine grape varieties and olives).
The conference organisers put on a great programme for us, which included visiting Xitang in Zhejiang Province (an ancient water town), martial arts demonstrations, traditional Chinese dances, music, and an evening cruise on the Huangpu River in front of the iconic Shanghai skyline (see feature image).
I am now looking forward to building collaborations with phytochemists and plant scientists in Asia, and also hope to carry out a PhD industrial placement working alongside activities in Shanghai – watch this space!
Author: Siobhan Gardiner