To do so, a dose of curiosity and acceptance of potential failure is critical, according to Associate Professor (AP) Liu Shao Quan from the department of food science and technology at the National University of Singapore (NUS) who stars in our ninth NutraChampion podcast.
AP Liu started his research career as a postdoctoral fellow in the New Zealand Dairy Research Institute - now a part of Fonterra - focusing on dairy products fermentation and flavour change.
He moved into the academic research scene at NUS 12 years ago as he hoped to pursue research beyond dairy products.
“It is quite a different environment, the industry versus the university. There are pros and cons in each way. But I am quite glad to have the opportunity here to conduct research in the university environment.
“You can do lots of curiosity-driven research…I have quite a bit of fun in trying different things,” he said.
Citing the example of probiotic beer, he said the idea started off as an undergraduate honour’s year project, while the idea could potentially yield no successful result, he preferred to look at it as a “curiosity-driven academic exercise”.
“The probiotic beer project was not sponsored by any company. It was purely curiosity-driven, [to find out] whether I can make the probiotics survive in the beer or not,” he said, adding that the idea of a functional probiotic beer could potentially reverse declining beer sales seen in the industry.
His willingness to explore the unknown has therefore led he and his team in the successful upcycling of bread waste into probiotic beverages. Another personal interest of his is in developing tropical fruit flavoured wines.
Listen to find out more about his life and career.