Ms. Stephanie Heaney has a BSc. Degree in Food Quality, Safety and Nutrition and is currently a PhD student within the Institute for Global Food Security, Queen’s University in Belfast. The safefood Training and Mobility Funding Programme provided her the opportunity to attend the “Annual Spectroscopy and Chemometrics Training Course 2018” which was hosted by Walloon Agricultural Research Centre in Gembloux, Belgium.


"Visit Aims and Objectives

The aim of attending the Annual Spectroscopy and Chemometric training course was to gain valuable skills and develop my knowledge of vibrational spectroscopy and chemometric techniques as well as to learn how these can be combined for non-targeted detection and quantification of chemical compounds in foods.  The knowledge and skills which have been developed will have a fundamental benefit on my PhD research project and other projects I will be involved in within the future.  The objective of attending the training course was to gain an insight into relevant and upcoming state-of-the-art research in this area.

Purpose & Relevance

Spectroscopic techniques – in combination with Chemometric methods – provide simple, inexpensive, rapid and accurate methods allowing the detection of compounds in a food.  These techniques will be used within my project to detect polyphenols which are associated with black-tea quality.  Attending this training has increased my knowledge and understanding of spectroscopic techniques and chemometric modelling and the experience has provided me with valuable information which can be applied to my PhD project to develop a rapid method for detecting quality of black tea.


The training course involved lectures which focused on the theory of Near-Infrared (NIR), Mid Infrared, Raman and Fluorescence spectroscopy, Chemometrics, pre-processing techniques, sampling and uncertainty. Dynamical practical sessions were completed in multidisciplinary laboratories and provided the opportunity to put theory into practice through the use of spectroscopic instruments and by analysing data on chemometric software programs. 

Added Value and Realised/Anticipated Benefits of Visit

By attending the Annual Spectroscopy and Chemometrics Training Course, I was able to gain an insight into relevant, recent and upcoming state of the art research in the area of spectroscopy and its excellence in food analysis. The course provided the opportunity to learn about the recent practical applications of spectroscopy and software programs used for Chemometric modelling.

It was useful for me to speak to other researchers and experts about my project as I was able to gain experience presenting and discussing my work.  From these discussions, I was able to note valuable comments and feedback which will have a positive impact on my PhD research and my professional and personal development.  Networking with academics and other researchers has also allowed my research group within the Institute for Global Food Security to gain contacts who are interested in our work, which could lead to potential collaborations in the future.


Attending the Annual Spectroscopy and Chemometrics Course has been an invaluable opportunity that has helped me to gain a stronger insight into spectroscopy and chemometrics and how they can be applied in food safety research.  In addition, this experience has given me a new outlook on future and upcoming research, thus allowing me to create novel ideas for my own research project.  The visit has been highly beneficial and would not have been possible without the support of the safefood Training & Mobility Funding Programme, Ms Tracey Thompson, who was extremely helpful throughout the application process, my supervisor Dr Tassos Koidis, and the admin staff within the IGFS, to whom I am extremely grateful."

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