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Postgraduate student to conduct research on maize quality at Michigan State University
2017-03-27

Description: Student maze research Tags: Student maze research

Schae-Lee Olckers, master’s student in the
Department of Microbial Biochemical and
Food Biotechnology.
Photo: Supplied

Schae-Lee Olckers, a master’s student in the Department of Microbial Biochemical and Food Biotechnology at the University of the Free State (UFS), will be travelling to the US in a few weeks’ time. For the next two years she will be doing research at the Michigan State University (MSU) at its Department of Food Science, working on wheat quality and its baking properties.

Increase the nutritional value of maize
The title of her master’s research project is: “The influence of low and optimal nitrogen conditions on the nutritional value of quality protein maize”. She is focusing on the influence of environmental conditions on the nutritional value of maize.

New hybrids of maize production developed

Olckers said: “I chose to start my research on this specific topic in my honours year because maize is the main staple crop in South Africa, as well as in the rest of Africa. Therefore, micronutrient malnutrition is a major concern for developing countries as well as for poor people who rely on it as a major food source. I found it interesting that these breeding programmes that are being developed for new hybrids of maize for production are focusing on increasing the nutritional value of maize and can therefore help eliminate micronutrient malnutrition in some populations of poor communities,” she said.

Prof Perry Ng will be her research supervisor. He is an affiliated professor at UFS in the division of Plant Breeding. “I am very excited about the opportunity to travel and to gain experience working with a well-known cereal scientist. The work he does is also closely associated with my research,” said Olckers.

Her supervisors at UFS are Profs Garry Osthoff and Maryke Labuschagne from the Departments of Microbial Biochemical and Food Biotechnology and Plant Sciences respectively.

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