Biochemistry student, Isabel Hyde wins national 'Future of Science' competition

Isabel Hyde

This summer, Biochemistry student Isabel Hyde won the national ‘Future of Science’ competition by tackling a future consumer health problem.

The competition, run by health and hygiene company RB, formerly known as Reckitt Benckiser, challenged university students across the country to come up with solutions to future consumer health problems. Isabel tapped into the knowledge and skills gained so far in her degree in the department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology and came up with the idea of using aromas to compensate for a reduction of sugar and salt in food.

“A documentary segment finally concentrated my imagination in a productive direction.” shared Isabel when asked about how she came up with her winning idea.

Isabel’s entry stood out to the judges as it justified the growth in her target market and suggested a way to cater for that. She highlighted the reduction targets set by the World Health Organisation and the consequent growing public awareness of health problems associated with salt and sugar intake.

“The documentary explained how strawberries taste much sweeter than other foods with similar sugar content due to their scent. Everyone has seen articles and heard about the increasing obesity crisis, so imagining a product that could reduce the sugar content of foods, while still having it taste the same, fit a growing health care need wonderfully.

“What I found in my research though was that there had been more studies done on reducing the salt content than sugar. This was fantastic because reducing salt had potentially larger implications for reducing blood pressure and consequently, risk of strokes and heart disease than sugar had for obesity.”

Dr Bruce Charlesworth, RB category group director of health, was one of the judges of the competition and congratulated Isabel on her idea. Dr Charlesworth said: “Isabel’s idea is a prime example of how great breakthroughs come about. She saw one thing that piqued her interest but had the foresight to apply what she learned to a totally different circumstance, one that could make a real difference to people’s lives. Bravo Isabel!”

As a reward for her winning idea, Isabel received an enviable prize of a paid summer placement with health and hygiene company, RB next summer as well as a £5,000 contribution towards her studies whilst here at Sheffield.

“I’m looking forward to starting my placement next summer at RB’s new research and development facility in Hull. I visited the site this summer which allowed me to see a number of interesting talks from different departments and meet a huge range of people working in different areas.”

For more information about the Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, visit the website.