Distinctive Australian Foods

Growing premium brands

The Team

Our team is led by industry and supported by leading food science researchers with significant industry and government experience.

Prof Mike Gidley

Prof Mike Gidley


Professor Mike Gidley is Director of the Centre for Nutrition and Food Sciences (CNAFS) at The University of Queensland (UQ; 2003-present). CNAFS is now incorporated into the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation, a partnership between UQ and the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. Prof Gidley built the Centre from scratch to its current size of more than 60 staff, postdoctoral researchers and PhD students. He is a Fellow of both the Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology and the Nutrition Society of Australia and the current Chair of the Australian Academy of Sciences National Nutrition Committee. He has published >300 peer-reviewed research papers, including >80 in the past five years as a Chief Investigator in the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Cell Walls (2011-2017). His work on food carbohydrates has been recognised by major senior awards from the Food Hydrocolloids Trust (2012) and the Australasian Grain Science Association (2017). Professor Gidley was trained in chemistry at the Universities of London (BSc) and Cambridge (PhD), and worked on food-related research for more than twenty years in Unilever’s R+D laboratory at Colworth House in the UK, beginning as a research scientist and culminating as the Group Leader for Plant-based Foods and Ingredients, before joining UQ in 2003.

Assoc Prof Yasmina Sultanbawa

Assoc Prof Yasmina Sultanbawa

Principal Research Fellow

Associate Professor Yasmina Sultanbawa is a  food scientist working at the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI), a research institute supported by the Queensland Government and based at the University of Queensland. She has 20 years’ experience in value addition to food and has a track record of working with industry and attracting national and international funds where commercialization has been a key outcome. Yasmina has a Masters in Food Science from the University of Reading in the UK and a PhD in Food Chemistry from the University of British Columbia in Canada.

Her research themes include developing and working with innovative food processing technologies, formulating natural additives to preserve foods, improving food safety and identifying novel indigenous foods. She has been closely associated with the food industry with the ultimate objective of providing the consumer with healthy and safe choices of ingredients and products. Therefore, her research has been highly translational and of immediate commercial and practical relevance. 

Her research impacts several industries including the preservation of aquaculture products and pre-prepared frozen meals using Kakadu plum extract solution, identifying plant bioactive compounds as alternatives for food additives, and developing new industries using Australian native plant foods.  The use of native foods as functional ingredients in cross industry applications has had positive economic and social benefits to indigenous communities in Northern Australia.

Dr Heather Smyth

Dr Heather Smyth

Senior Research Fellow (Flavour and Sensory Science)

Dr Heather Smyth is a flavour chemist and sensory scientist who has been working with premium food and beverage products for more than fifteen years.

With a background in wine flavour chemistry, her expertise is in understanding consumer enjoyment of foods and beverages in terms of both sensory properties and chemical composition.

Dr Smyth’s projects involve specialty coffee, beer, wine, native plant foods, cocoa, meat and seafood, tropical fruit, cereals, dairy products and some processed products. She has a special interest in describing and articulating food quality, understanding the influence of terroir on locally grown produce, and modelling food flavour and textural properties using instrumental measurements. She collaborates with a number of companies and research groups to discover what consumers enjoy about food which aids in the design and production of superior products with increased consumer value.