Watch Food Scientist Martina Bodner at Work

My main area of interest is food fraud. Unfortunately, there are criminals who adulterate
our food for economic interests. It is my job to develop new analytical techniques to detect this fraud and verify food quality. For my analysis I use mainly two techniques: spectroscopy and mass spectrometry. I think that my job is really important, because we all eat and enjoy food
every day. It is fundamental that what we eat is safe and healthy.

As a scientist, I spend most of my time in the lab, but sometimes I have the chance to travel around the world to present what I do. At conferences I like to hang up my lab coat and wear a nice dress.

I have always been passionate about science. My parents used to take me and my brother to museums and to buy us science books and novels.

Dolly the sheep was created when I was 12. I became fascinated with genetics and genetic engineering. In that precise moment, I decided to study Biotechnology at a university. During my bachelor’s and master’s studies, I took several biology and chemistry classes and developed an interest in food chemistry. I then decided to start a PhD in food chemistry, and now I analyze food to test its quality.

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Sometimes I need to run noisy experiments to grind food into small pieces. It is important to wear earmuffs to protect my hearing during these kinds of experiments.

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This is a food dryer. Food scientists dry food to preserve its flavor and aroma. Measuring the flavor of food is a big part of my work and the best way to test food quality.

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This is a spectroscope. Light passes through the spectroscope and hits food. The instrument measures how light is deviated when it hits the food. Then, software analyzes this light deviation and tells me information about the food’s quality.

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I took this photo on the first day of my PhD. I am proudly wearing my lab coat. I still remember how excited and scared I was. After many years in the lab, I am not scared anymore. But every day I discover something fascinating and exciting about science and research.

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Sometimes scientists need to do some mechanical interventions on their machines: When an instrument has a problem, we can open it and try to fix the problem. Sometimes the job is very easy, but sometimes it can take several days to make the instrument work again.

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This is a PTR-MS. It is a particular type of spectrometer that sniffs food and tells me the ingredients of the food I am analyzing. I use this instrument to detect food fraud because PTR-MS tells me if a food has different ingredients from the ones stated in the label.

Word Of Advice: I would tell all the kids interested in science that you don’t need to be afraid to ask questions and make mistakes. Science is about questions and mistakes. Also, remember that your ambition is never too big: work hard to reach your dreams!

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