Health & Community

"The world needs as much food in the next 40 years as we’ve used in the past 400 years." PROFESSOR MARTIN COLE, CHIEF OF CSIRO DIVISION OF ANIMAL, FOOD AND HEALTH SCIENCES

The thriving agricultural, food, and nutritional sciences industries are working symbiotically to meet growing global demand for safe, abundant, nutritious food, while at the same time protecting and maintaining a healthy environment. Scientific innovations are key to our ability to feed an exponentially increasing population in a sustainable way.

Professor Martin Cole, CSIRO’s Chief of Food and Nutritional Sciences, says we can expect several food and health megashocks in the coming years. "The world needs as much food in the next 40 years as we’ve used in the past 400 years. A strong research effort is important to ensure we can sustainably produce not only enough food, but food that is healthy and safe, produced with the least possible environmental insult. Biosecurity is another key consideration, given the complexity of the food supply, the continued population growth and the transmission of animal diseases into the human lifecycle. These will present exciting challenges for future scientists," he says.

As one of the world’s largest exporters of wheat, cattle and other key nutritional commodities, Australia has a significant role in the global food industry. Improved methods and technologies create new and better approaches to managing food safety risks. Scientists in this field offer critical support to the food manufacturing industry and public health groups to better identify and control hazards in the food supply. Improved processing technologies are resulting in safer foods with fewer preservatives. Molecular advances are helping scientists examine the ways in which individual nutrients affect health outcomes, paving the way for personalised medicine and nutrition strategies that may lead to better health and disease management.

An undergraduate science degree is a wonderful beginning to career opportunities in these areas of health and community. A small sample of potential careers are listed below:

  • Agricultural chemist: analyses agricultural and food products to ensure product quality and safety; may also work in environmental monitoring and protection; may be involved in development of new technologies for processing of raw products
  • Agricultural scientist: studies agricultural productivity and food safety, looking for ways to improve crop yield, control pests and weeds and conserve soil and water; may investigate ways to use agricultural products for fuels
  • Dietitian/nutritionist: plans food and nutrition programs, promotes healthy eating habits and recommends dietary modifications; may be involved in nutritional research
  • Environmental scientist: analyses measurements of air, food, water and soil to determine the best methods to clean and preserve the environment and minimise health hazards
  • Food microbiologist: examines micro- organisms in food with the aim of improving food production and food safety; may also study outbreaks of food-borne illness and track the origin and spread of the illness to help prevent future outbreaks
  • Food quality assurance officer: monitors the quality of the environment in order to interpret the impact of human actions and to develop strategies for restoring ecosystems
  • Food scientist: uses their knowledge of science, engineering and biotechnology to develop new or better ways of preserving, processing, packaging, storing and delivering food; may be involved in research into new food sources
  • Plant scientist: studies plants, feed and fibre crops to help food producers develop healthy foods; may also look at ways to conserve natural resources
  • Soil scientist: employed in a wide range of occupations in public and private enterprises, working in basic and applied research in land and soil management

Average salaries

  • Agricultural scientist: $79,000
  • Food scientist: $89,000


Industry bodies

Courses to consider

Consider enrolling in one of the following courses and majors to prepare for a career in Health & Community.

Our courses:

Also see the Faculty of Health Sciences and the Sydney Nursing School.

Our majors: