00:00 / 00:00
Why Give | Impact stories

Fermenting a good idea: Student's experience with wine science yields a vintage thesis topic

With help from donors, Eleanor Hsiun is exploring the intersection of food science and business.

Eleanor Hsiun’s love for food and curiosity about food production led her to pursue the Food, Nutrition, and Health program at UBC’s Faculty of Land and Food Systems.

“I liked it so much that I decided to study it!” she laughs.

Of course, Eleanor has chosen her career path for other reasons—most concerning food systems and the intersection between food science and business.

“I’ve realized a strictly lab-based position isn’t really for me. What really interests me is taking all the soft skills I’ve learned from my degree and branching out,” says Eleanor. “I think nowadays people really are looking at the intersection between business and science and how to bridge that gap—especially in science communication.”

Eleanor gained valuable experience as a co-op student at CrushDynamics, a wine science startup in Summerland, BC, in her fourth year. The company repurposed grape waste into food ingredients to reduce waste and promote sustainable production.

Eleanor was enthusiastic about her experience, saying, “It was a pretty small startup, so I learned a lot there.”

She’s grateful for the donor support which allowed it to happen.

“Finances are very tough for students trying to balance many things. By donating, they’re alleviating the financial strain that schooling has on students.” Eleanor adds, “Thanks to donors, I’m given the freedom to really utilize and explore what I’ve learned in school—and take advantage of everything that UBC offers.”

Eleanor’s co-op experience helped inspire her undergraduate thesis topic.

“I think after my first co-op in Summerland, I realized I didn’t know much about fermentation. So that inspired me to delve deeper,” says Eleanor. “I’m studying the nutritional needs of Indigenous wine yeast in the Okanagan for my thesis.”

Apart from her academic pursuits, Eleanor has been active in various clubs and groups on and off campus. She joined UBC Current’s Dragon Boating team, which helped her build a community in her first year of university. She also became a member of the Land and Food Systems Undergraduate Society (LFSUS) for two years, serving as the webmaster in second year and as the Food and Health program representative in her third year.

A Presidential Scholar Award recipient, Eleanor appreciates the breadth of experience and engagement donor funding has provided.

“I’ve been able to participate in extracurricular activities. I got to do a couple of case competitions with friends,” says Eleanor. One involved formulating hypothetical food systems for feeding nine billion people. “It’s just opportunities like that—collaborating with others and applying your knowledge.”

Eleanor’s passion for food and curiosity about how it is produced was the driving force behind her choice of major. Donor funding expanded her studies—leading to exciting collaborative opportunities to apply her knowledge to real-world problems.

If you would like to support outstanding students like Eleanor, please give to the FORWARD for Students Fund.

Give now