Kunal Kadiya is a Ph.D. candidate in food science at the University of Saskatchewan. His research areas include developing food-grade nanoemulsions, exploring the use of protein and biopolymers in making bilayer emulsion gels, and studying their rheology and digestion behaviour. He obtained his Master's degree in dairy science from National Dairy Research Institute (India) and also worked both in industry and academia in India before pursuing a Ph.D. at Saskatchewan.
Kunal was the 1st place winner of the inaugural Student ePoster Pitch Competition for the EAT Division. Watch a recording of the competition to see his pitch.
What is the main focus of your Ph.D. project?
The main focus of my project is to induce the gelation of liquid nanoemulsions by creating the close-packed structure of nanodroplets (akin to mayonnaise), but with a lower oil content. This can be achieved by altering the interfacial composition for oil-in-water nanoemulsion to increase the contribution of the interfacial thickness in elevating the effective volume fraction of the nanodroplets. For example, low molecular weight versus protein-stabilized emulsion nanodroplets can be coated with the polysaccharide of choice by a layer-by-layer (LbL) deposition technique to increase the interfacial thickness.
This project also focuses on developing nanoemulsion gels (“nanogels”) with controlled lipid digestion by manipulating the interfacial properties. The fundamental knowledge gained through this research can be used in the food, cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries to develop nanoemulsion gels with controlled lipid digestibility or controlled delivery of bioactives.
With this work, what major challenge(s) are you trying to solve?
The technological challenges remain in creating food formulations with lower fat or saturated fat content. The reduction of fat and replacing saturated fat with unsaturated oils is quite often detrimental to the food texture and sensory properties. We want to solve this problem by creating food-grade emulsion gel structure induced by the repulsive nature of droplets, but with a reduced fat content.
What do you enjoy most about your research?
Through this project I have learned a lot and further developed my research skills, particularly in emulsion and surface science. I would say that the tiny world is beyond our imagination and many things are unexplored with a true sense of fundamental science. However, many research areas are still supported by the imagination, as we do not perceive them in our daily experiences.
Finally, what do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Spare time is rare when you are doing a Ph.D. and have a family life, but I love to enjoy any extra moments with my wife and daughter. Even simple things like watching a favorite TV show or movie together helps keep me grounded.