Siobhan Gardiner, a doctoral student at Cranfield University, has been shortlisted by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) for the ‘Innovator of the Year’ award.

The awards recognise the full breadth of impacts that investments in research create from the creation of spin-out companies or social enterprises, to working in collaboration with business and policy makers, both in the UK and abroad. 

Siobhan recently completed her PhD at Cranfield, where she investigated improving resilience in vanilla quality and sustainability. Vanilla remains one of the most universally popular flavours in industry – extending beyond food and beverages to perfumery, cosmetics and other products. However, in recent years, vanilla producers have struggled to keep up with increasing demand.  Siobhan’s research explored opportunities to increase sustainability, streamline post-harvest processing and understand flavour development.

As part of her research, Siobhan undertook industrial placements with Unilever’s R&D centres in Vlaardingen in the Netherlands (with the flavour research expertise team) and at Colworth Park in the UK (at its Ice Cream Global Design Centre).

Professor Leon A. Terry, Director of Environment and Agrifood at Cranfield University and Siobhan’s PhD supervisor, said: “This is a testament to Siobhan’s dedication, passion and expertise. Throughout her PhD, she has seized multiple opportunities to demonstrate the importance of her research across the world, and has been a tremendous ambassador for women in STEM subjects. All of us at Cranfield are extremely proud of her contribution to science and wider society.”

Siobhan’s work has previously seen her win a Women in Innovation award from Innovate UK, the Institute of Food Science & Technology’s Young Ambassador Prize and seen her named as one of Farmers’ Weekly’s Rising Stars. She is currently the Vice-President of the British Federation of Women Graduates and now works for Unilever’s Global Food and Refreshment division.

Commenting on her shortlisting, Siobhan Gardiner, said: “I’m delighted to be shortlisted by the BBSRC for this award and would like to thank all those who have supported me throughout. It is a real honour to be nominated in such distinguished company, who have made such significant contributions to science.”

Siobhan and eleven finalists will compete to be named Innovator of the Year 2018 at The Mermaid in London on 16 May 2018.

Vanilla pods
Siobhan Gardiner tending her vanilla plants

About Cranfield University

Cranfield is a specialist postgraduate university that is a global leader for education and transformational research in technology and management.