As part of a project funded by a
USDA International Science and
Education Grant and directed by Dr.
Liwei Gu, (Assistant Professor), four
FSHN students spent two weeks traveling in France to learn more about
functional foods. The objective of
the course was to strengthen the
global competitiveness of UF
students by providing first-hand
experience in international research collaborations. Alisha Bent (NutritionalSciences Senior), Tim Buran (MS Student), Rebecca Creasy (PhD Candidate), and Devin Lewis
(PhD Student), accompanied Dr. Gu and Dr. Reyes, flying from Orlando to Paris. After spending some time in Paris, the group traveled to Clermont-Ferrand where they
visited VetAgro Sup agricultural college and the Universite D’Auvergne.
Next, they traveled to Bordeaux for a tour of the Bordeaux International Wine Institute.
During this time, the FSHN group got to tour sensory, pharmacology, cheese
research, wine research, and nutrition labs. Our students noticed that the labs they toured were very organized, and that many of the pieces of equipment found in the French facilities were manufactured in the US. At one point, the students got to stay in the student dormitories of the
Universite D’Auvergne, living in much the same way that French college students do. Although he has read journals containing research from around the world, Devin said sharing anecdotes and research experiences with students from a different culture and educational system helped them find common ground through scientific exploration. He added, “I found it especially pleasant that our hosts were very hospitable and eager to answer all of our questions about their research.”
This was Devin’s first experience as part of an international collaboration. He told us: “The opportunity to travel to another country and gain new insights on life, research, and culture is an experience that I would encourage any student to take part in.” Tim added, “What really stood out
to me was how different their education system was when compared to ours. Their PhD students complete their degree in three years compared to our system in which some take up to five.”
Our students also got a real taste of the local food and culture. Finding their way around the streets of Paris, Clermont-Ferrand, and Bordeaux on their own, they explored quite a few places that most tourists never see. Tim said, “Having the opportunity to partake in their culture was an
amazing experience! We took full advantage of the food, wine, and art as we immersed ourselves in the French way of life.” All of the students hope for a continuing collaboration with French
universities to enhance ongoing functional food research.