Tharani is a graduate in Forensic Science (Honours) from Deakin University and a first-year PhD
student. Her project entails investigating advanced analytical methods applicable on lipids suitable
for industry. She is currently working with the ‘Nutrisurance’ division of Kemin, an industry partner
in affiliation with the ITTC. Her main focus is on seldom-studied/challenging areas in lipid oxidation
and applying the insightful outcomes to (pet) food samples and ingredients.
In addition to research, one of Tharani’s passions is teaching. She has been in an active role of
teaching and tutoring life science subjects and finds immense satisfaction in sculpting young minds.
She is an animal lover and enjoys the occasional book and tv show in her down time.
Tharani first moved to Australia for her undergraduate studies and has always been intrigued by the
intricacies of life and science. She has a vision of a progressive and an equitable world of STEM in the years to come.
Ms. Tharuka Gunathilake is a final year PhD student at Deakin university, Waurn Ponds campus. She
received her Bachelor of Science (BSc) Special degree in Food Science and Technology; a Master of
Science (MSc) degree in Applied Food Biotechnology and has over 7 years of experience in research
in the fields of plant protein isolation, lipid biotransformation and microencapsulation.
Her research interest mainly focuses on valorisation of underutilized marine resources for
sustainable food, feed and pharmaceutical applications. With that aim, she has started her PhD
under the supervision of Prof. Colin Barrow and Dr. Taiwo Akanbi. She has been studying phenolic
profile of different seaweed species which are currently being developing to cultivate in Australia.
Focusing on seaweed phenolics as food grade natural antioxidant and cross-linkers, her effort is to
develop highly stable fish oil microcapsules to be applied in aquafeed and food industry. During her
Master’s degree, she had been working on the use of enzymes to produce bio-functional marine
lipids that have higher bioavailability than regular fish oil supplements and could be used as a
treatment and prevention of heart disease and many inflammatory diseases.
Following her research work, Tharuka has publications in prestigious journals of Marine Drugs,
Future Foods and Current Opinion in Food Science.
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