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Natalia Falagán, Cranfield University
Podcast / Career Conversations
Podcast / Career Conversations

How you could help fix the global food system

“We have a growing population, lots of changes in the climate, lots of greenhouse gas emissions which are jeopardising our food production, and we are at risk of not being able to feed the world.”

Natalia Falagán, Lecturer in Food Science and Technology, Cranfield University, succinctly sets out some of the major issues the world is facing, and why students are queuing up to enrol on her courses.

Enthusiasm for the subject is key, she says, and students “will get that enthusiasm and passion back from the lecturers”.

In this episode of the Career Conversations podcast series, made in partnership with Cranfield University, we delve into the detail of what the courses cover and how they can set students on the path to a rewarding career.

Cranfield’s Masters in Future Food Sustainability is described as taking a whole system approach to solving some of the biggest challenges facing the global food system.

Natalia says usually food people look at food, energy people look at energy, and water people look at water. “That’s not going to take us anywhere,” she says. “We need co-operation.”

That co-operative approach presents itself in a number of different ways. One of the key elements of the course is the opportunity to work alongside industry.

Students work with Cranfield’s industry partners to ensure they get real world experience and a real sense of what is actually happening on the ground.

Another key element is the group project, where students work alongside others on different Masters courses at Cranfield to solve a problem posed by an industry partner or academic.

Natalia says this helps students develop crucial soft skills, as well as broadening their knowledge base.

Kate Jones studied on the course in 2021-22, leaving behind her job and salary.

Despite the risk, she says she felt confident taking the leap “because I was following my passion. I knew there would be an answer at the end of it”.

Future Food Sustainability MSc at a glance

Duration: One year full-time, two or three years part-time

Who it’s for: Graduates who are passionate about food production and the sustainability of our food system.

Potential future roles: Technical managers, sustainability managers, technical development managers, product technologists, resilience officers, supply chain/logistics analysts, commodity analysts, regulatory affairs advisers, and policy officers.

Find out more and apply

Cranfield also runs a Masters in Food Systems and Management, which is slightly more technical.

Natalia says students often go on to work in quality and safety of food products, as well as certification.

Food Systems and Management MSc at a glance

Duration: One year full-time, two or three years part-time

Who it’s for: Science or technology graduates, or professionals already in the food industry looking to further their career. You will be passionate about improving major worldwide problems such as food security and food safety.

Potential future roles: Management, food innovation, production, logistics, research or academia, retail sector, food storage.

Find out more and apply

Listen to the full episode to find out more about the big challenges facing the global food system, what life is like on the Cranfield University campus, and how you might go about choosing which course is right for you.

Natalia Falagán, Lecturer in Food Science and Technology, Cranfield University

Dr Natalia Falagan is an agricultural engineer by training and is driven by the need to reduce food waste and improve food security; while maintaining the quality and safety of fresh produce across the supply chain.

Her work focuses on optimising food systems from an integrated perspective, considering the impacts on the environment to develop mitigating actions for a more sustainable and resilient supply chain.

In particular, she investigates the underlying ripening and senescence mechanisms of fruit and vegetables and develops innovative strategies for postharvest management, combining both biology and technology fields.

Natalia is a Member of the Royal Society of Biology, Member of the Institute of Agricultural Engineers, Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, and Member of the Scientific Advisory Committees in the Food Standards Agency.

In 2021, Natalia won the ‘Top 50 Women in Engineering: Engineering Heroes’ award and a medal awarded by the Royal Academy of Engineering (Spain) in 2022 for her work towards food loss and waste reduction.

Kate Jones, PhD student, Cranfield University

Kate studied for an MSc in Future Food Sustainability at Cranfield University in 2021-2. 

After starting out as a teacher, Kate gained an MSc in Development Studies, and went on to work in education for sustainability, including at the Fairtrade Foundation (2010-2017) and Marine Stewardship Council (since 2015).

She has nearly 20 years’ experience managing major projects to create educational and awareness raising campaigns for adults and young people, including at Comic Relief (2005-2010), with Greenpeace (2008-10) and at Childnet (2018-21), where she co-ordinated Safer Internet Day, which in 2021 reached 51% of UK young people aged 8-17 and nearly 4 in 10 of their parents.

Kate’s now starting a PhD at Cranfield, focusing on the role of early warning systems in food supply chain disruption, and she is looking to use this, as well as her work experience, to help create an equitable, sustainable food system able to provide for people and planet in an uncertain future.

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