Sustainable food production has become a worldwide priority. TRANSIT recruited 10 Early Stage Researchers (ESR) within the highly-ambitious training and research programme Training Network Sustainable Technologies. TRANSIT will train the young scientists who will be capable of creating a transformational change to drive utility of sustainable food technologies through an interdisciplinary action.

TRANSIT is a research and training programme aiming at integrating microbiology, food processing technology, cost benefit analyses, quantitative microbiology, and consumer sciences.

ESR 1 – Theocharia Tsagkaropoulou
Title of the Thesis: Microbial Responses towards high hydrostatic pressure
Host University: University of Reading, United Kingdom
Secondment: Wageningen University (Netherlands), HIPERBARIC (Spain), Unilever (Netherlands)
Nationality: Greek

Theocharia Tsagkaropoulou received an Integrated MSc in Agriculture with specialization in Food Science and Technology from Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (Greece) in 2017. In her MSc thesis project she investigated the acid, thermal and osmotic stress response of L. monocytogenes grown in a substrate with various glucose concentrations to evaluate the potential acid adaptation and cross protection of the foodborne pathogen. After, she specialized in the field of Food Safety by obtaining a MSc in Food Safety from Wageningen University & Research, the Netherlands in 2020. During her second MSc thesis she studied the role of PIWI/Argonaute proteins in Bacillus cereus. Further experience was gained throughout her internship at the Institute of Food Safety and Analytical sciences at Nestlé Research in Lausanne, Switzerland, where she afterwards continues to work as Junior Research Assistant in the field of Food Safety. As of November 2021, she is working as a PhD student at the Department of Food and Nutritional Sciences, University of Reading (United Kingdom). Her research focuses on the Microbial Responses towards High Hydrostatic Pressure pasteurisation and identification of mechanisms of action.

ESR 2 – Fotios Lytras
Title of the Thesis: Microbial Responses towards pulsed electric field
Host university: University Malta, Malta
Secondment: ELEA (Germany), Wageningen University (Netherlands)
Nationality: Greek

Fotios Lytras is a food scientist and technologist from Athens (Greece) with a theoretical background and industrial experience on the field. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in Food Science and Technology from the University of West Attica (Greece) in 2019 and his master’s degree in Food Technology – Quality Assurance from the University of Reading (United Kingdom) in 2020. During his studies, he had his first hands-on experiences in the field of research where he studied the “Optimization of Polyphenol Extraction from Allium ampeloprasum var. porrum through Response Surface Methodology” as an undergraduate student and the “Oxidative stress response of regulators in Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria” as a master’s student. Currently, he is employed as a PhD at the University of Malta (Malta) where he is working on Microbial Responses (PhD) research project with the main focus on quantification of the microbial reduction and the characterization of the molecular resistance mechanisms after Pulsed Electric Field Technology application.

ESR 3 – Esther Tobechukwu Okafor
Title of the Thesis: Microbial Responses towards ultrasound
Host university: University of Malta, Malta
Secondment: DIL (Germany), Arla (Denmark)
Nationality: Nigerian

Esther Tobechukwu Okafor completed her BSc degree in Microbiology from the University of Nigeria (Nsukka). Through this, she acquired research competence in food microbiology and African beer fermentation. After her bachelor study, she worked in the food industry for about 4 years as a Food Safety and Quality assurance professional. Here, she was responsible for assuring food and water safety, microbiological analysis, continuous process improvement, and new product development. In 2019, she proceeded to the Netherlands to do a master’s degree in food safety (Specialisation: food microbiology) at Wageningen University (the Netherlands). During the masters’ thesis, she assessed the susceptibility of biofilms of Listeria monocytogenes to cleaning and disinfection regimes. Based on the findings of the master’s thesis, her interest in alternative antimicrobials was stimulated, and this led to a research internship at the Universidad Politecnica de Cartagena (Spain) on essential oils and their ability to induce antibiotic resistance. Currently, Esther is working as a PhD student at the University of Malta (Malta). The project aims to identify the molecular targets and the underlying mechanism for inactivation by Ultrasound technology for common food-borne pathogens and spoilage microorganisms.

ESR 4 – Domiziana Battaggia
Title of the Thesis: Microbial Responses towards non-thermal atmospheric plasma
Host university: Wageningen University, the Netherlands
Secondment: Wageningen Research (Netherlands), INP (Germany), Unilever (Netherlands)
Nationality: Italian

Domiziana Battaggia studied Biomolecular Science and Technology at the University of Trento (Italy), which gave her a solid basis in microbiology, biochemistry, and lab techniques. Next, she moved to Padova (Italy) for her Master’s degree in Biotechnologies for Food Sciences, where she learned how to apply state-of-the-art technologies and knowledge of food science to the different aspects and problematics in the food field. The focus was mainly on the area of agricultural genetics, and in particular on the genetic improvement, selection, and characterization of economically and societally relevant crops. As of September 2021, Domiziana is working on the analysis of the microbial response towards the novel food processing technology Non-Thermal Plasma at Wageningen University (the Netherlands). The objective is to understand the molecular target of this sterilization method and the possible mechanisms of resistance developed by pathogenic and spoilage microorganisms. The resulting information will be used for the optimization and upscaling of the technology, to achieve optimal quality and safety control in the food chain production.

ESR 5 – Nikolaos Giannoulis
Title of the Thesis: Optimization and upscaling of high hydrostatic pressure
Host university: University of Reading, United Kingdom
Secondment: HIPERBARIC (Spain), Néstle (Switzerland), Arla (Denmark)
Nationality: Greek

Nikolaos Giannoulis graduated with an Integrated Master’s Degree in Agricultural Science with specialization in Plant Protection and Environment. Following his graduation, he decided to specialize in food safety and quality by pursuing an additional MSc. degreein Food Science and Technology & Human Nutrition with a major in “Food Safety and Quality Management Systems” at the Agricultural University of Athens (Greece). During the MSc thesis, he investigated the molecular and phenotypical characterization of L. monocytogenes and Salmonella spp. strains. Upon completion of his studies, he left Greece to join the Food Safety Microbiology group at Nestlé Research Centre, where he explored the predictive microbiology field while developing an internal tool. A traineeship at European Food Safety Authority followed, where he participated in various scientific panels and working groups. Since November 2021, he started working as an Early Stage Researcher at the department of Food and Nutritional Science at University of Reading (UK). The project focusses on the development of setting the parameters to optimize the High Hydrostatic Pressure treatment of food in combination with other antimicrobial factors.

ESR 6 – Arisa Thamsuaidee
Title of the Thesis: Optimization and upscaling of pulsed electric field
Host: ELEA, Germany
Secondment: University of Malta (Malta), DIL (Germany)
Nationality: Thai-Canadian

Arisa Thamsuaidee completed her BSc in Food and Nutritional Sciences at University of British Columbia, Vancouver (Canada). During the BSc she completed internships in food analysis and worked in a molecular biology lab. In between her educational degrees, she worked/interned in the food industry for small, medium, and multinational corporations in R&D (product development), food safety, and quality assurance departments. She specialized in nutraceuticals, confectionery (soft candies, cocoa and chocolate), and dairy products (yogurt, ice cream). After completion she decided to do a MSc. in Food Science, Technology, and Business via an Erasmus Mundus Joint Masters Degree during which she studied at KU Leuven (Belgium), UCP Porto (Portugal), and Hochschule Anhalt (Germany). Currently, she is working at a PhD candidate at Elea Vertriebs- und Vermarktungsgesellschaft mbH (Germany). The project she is working on focusses on the microbial decontamination of liquid products using Pulsed Electric Field technology, with a focus on optimization and scalability of the system and process.

ESR 7 – Enrique Beitia González
Title of the Thesis: Optimization and upscaling of ultrasound
Host: DIL, Germany
Secondment: National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (Greece), ELEA (Germany), Arla (Denmark)
Nationality: Spanish

Enrique Beitia earned both his Bachelor’s Degree in Food Science and Technology and Master’s Degree in Food Quality, Safety and Technology from the University of Zaragoza (Spain) in 2020 and 2021, respectively. He investigated Pulsed Electric Field technology as a new system to apply heat treatments in solid matrices at the Animal Production and Food Science Department. Furthermore, he completed an internship at the National Centre for Food Technology and Safety (CNTA), San Adrián (Spain). He is currently undertaking a PhD which focuses on the optimization and upscaling of Ultrasound technology at the German Institute of Food Technologies (DIL e.V., Germany), and in the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (Athens, Greece).

ESR 8 – Yijiao Yao
Title of the Thesis: Optimization and upscaling of non-thermal atmospheric plasma
Host: INP, Germany
Secondment: Wageningen Research (Netherlands), Unilever (Netherlands), Euroma (Netherlands), Néstle (Switzerland)
Nationality: Chinese

Yijiao Yao studied environmental engineering for her bachelor’s degree at University of Shanghai for Science and Technology (China). After that, she studied at the Erasmus Mundus Joint Master’s Degree Programme EACH – Excellence in Analytical Chemistry. She has been awarded two master degrees of science from University of Tartu (Estonia) and from University Claude Bernard Lyon 1 (France), majoring in analytical chemistry and industrial analysis. As an early stage researcher, she currently works on the optimisation & upscaling of Non-Thermal atmospheric Plasma at Leibniz Institute for Plasma Science and Technology (Germany), with the aim to propose an innovative alternative approach for food sanitation process.

ESR 9 – Aline Silva
Title of the Thesis: Consumer perception
Host: Sense Test, Portugal
Secondment: DIL (Germany), University of Reading (United Kingdom)
Nationality: Brazilian

Aline Silva holds a MSc in Food Science (2020) from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) and a degree in Food Engineering (2018) from the Federal Rural University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRRJ, Brazil) with a sandwich undergraduate period (Ireland) as a CAPES scholar under the Science Without Borders Program (2015-2016). During her MSc, she has worked on the preparation and characterization of plant-based extracts. As an early-stage researcher she will work at Sense Test (Portugal), focusing her PhD project on the consumer perception regarding the use of the new food technologies under evaluation in the different work packages from the TRANSIT ITN. Her thesis will cover the evaluation of risk perception, strategies to promote consumers’ trust and the sensory and emotional response towards innovative foods emerging from the application of the different technologies.

ESR 10 – Georgios Pampoukis
Title of the Thesis: Modelling and quantitative microbial risk assessment
Host university: Wageningen University, the Netherlands
Secondment: University of Malta (Malta), Sense Test (Portugal)
Nationality: Greek

George Pampoukis began his studies with an Integrated MSc in Agriculture with specialization in Food Science and Technology from Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (Greece). Afterwards, he moved to Athens to obtain an additional MSc. degree in Food Science and Technology & Human Nutrition with a major in “Food Safety and Quality Management Systems” at the Agricultural University of Athens (Greece). During his studies, he developed a passion for food science and gained knowledge in food microbiology and predictive modelling. From April to September 2021, he worked as a research fellow in the laboratory of Food Microbiology and Biotechnology of Agricultural University of Athens. As of September 2021 he works as an early stage researcher at Wageningen University (the Netherlands) where he focusses on the subfield of quantitative microbiology, with the aim to quantify the decontamination efficacy of novel food processing technologies and to develop risk assessment models.