UG’s 1st batch of food scientists to transform food security for Guyana

Marleysa Bishop, Jethro Warner, Yonnique Wallace-Williams and Omadai Madray

See full statement from the University of Guyana:

“We are inordinately proud of this pioneering batch of Food Scientists.  They represent the culmination of years of planning with the vision of Guyana becoming a major food security player for the region by transforming the food manufacturing and food product development sectors.” These were the words of Dr Dawn Fox, Head of the University of Guyana’s Department of Chemistry, in an interview with UG’s Department of Events, Conference and Communication.

According to Dr Fox, this recent boost to our nation’s human resources capacity is happening at a time when we are set to benefit from affordable energy costs arising from the Oil & Gas sector. “We fully expect these graduates to not only impact the existing food manufacturing scene but also to expand the industry via entrepreneurship,” she said.

The Bachelor in Food Science programme was implemented in 2019 and designed as a multidisciplinary programme, integrating the study of agriculture, chemistry, biology, and business. The first two years of the undergraduate food science programme are intended to establish a solid background in math, chemistry, and physical and biological sciences, while the last two years emphasise the application of basic sciences and technology to the manufacturing, sensory evaluation, storage, distribution and safety of foods and food ingredients.

According to Dr. Fox, this achievement took a “village of supporters” including; the Department of Chemistry, particularly the Food Science team – Mr Gary Mendonca, Ms Samantha Joseph, Ms Sharlene Roberts, and Ms Kezia Bess. Special gratitude was expressed to Professor Emerita Verian Thomas of Florida A & M University for her exemplary leadership in creating and supporting the programme throughout, and the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry as well as various public and private sector entities.

In an interview with DECC, some of the first batch of graduates spoke about their journey at UG and expressed how excited they were to now be in a better position to apply their newly acquired skills in the working environment.

Ms Omadai Madray said: “Throughout my time at the university, I have been fortunate to learn from brilliant educators, collaborate with passionate peers, and engage in hands-on experiences that have deepened my understanding of food science. This journey has not only been academically enriching but has also shaped my values and I am now ready to apply myself and further develop my career.”

Yonnique Wallace-Williams said: “In the journey towards my Bachelor’s in Food Science at the University of Guyana, my passion for food safety and product development blossomed from my initial studies in Agro-Processing. I am very eager to contribute to the development of the sector.”

Despite being one of the few males amidst a predominantly female cohort in the Food Science Programme at that time, Jethro Warner embarked on a journey to obtain his Degree from the University of Guyana with determination. He said: “Coming from a family that made processing food a business, I was very confident in my ability to succeed in this course. At first, I felt like an outsider in my classes. I was the only male in a sea of female students. But as time passed, I realised that my gender did not define my capabilities or my passion for the subject. This degree will definitely help me to fast-track my career development.”

Marleysa Bishop said that despite earlier aspirations of becoming a doctor, she found herself drawn to the world of food science. A serendipitous scholarship opportunity reignited her academic pursuits, leading her back to the university. Today, she proudly embraces her role as a Food Scientist, ready to make a positive impact in her field. “I never thought that food science would be something that I am interested in, but today, being able to stand and proudly call myself a Food Scientist, and then diligently explain to others the benefits of food science, the complexities of the discipline and how much impact food science has on the world today.”