Australian nutritional researcher wins international 2021 ASPIRE Prize

August 25, 2021
Woman helping a mother feed her young child
A young Bangladeshi child tasting the complementary food developed by Dr Bogard. Photo: WorldFish

Ever heard of a nutritious fish-based chutney tailor-made for pregnant and lactating women? It might not sound that appealing to a Western-based palate, but the product developed by nutrition scientist Dr Jessica Bogard is helping to address widespread malnutrition among women in Bangladesh.

For this and other innovations to increase access to healthy and sustainable foods for vulnerable people in low- and middle-income countries, Brisbane-based Dr Bogard from CSIRO is the recipient of the prestigious 2021 ASPIRE prize.

The prize, valued at US$25,000, recognises young scientists from Asia–Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) member economies who have demonstrated a commitment to excellence in innovation, research and education. Dr Bogard was nominated for the prize by the Australian Academy of Science. The winner was announced overnight at a virtual award ceremony hosted by New Zealand.

As well as the chutney, Dr Bogard has also developed a complementary food for infants and young children aged from 6 to 23 months. Both products were based on traditional recipes and improved using local nutrient-rich ingredients. Testing of the products in a large acceptability and feasibility trial found that such products were an effective and culturally acceptable way to improve nutrient intake.

The products were also deemed suitable for local production and distribution with flow-on benefits for income and livelihoods. The production model has been scaled to other regions in Bangladesh and through WorldFish and other partners the concept has been expanded to other countries in Asia and Africa.

The development of the products are part of Dr Bogard’s broader research on strategies to increase production and consumption of healthy and sustainable diets.

Dr Bogard becomes the third Australian to win the prize since its inception in 2011. In 2013 Associate Professor Carissa Klein won the prize for her work on sustainable ocean development, and in 2018 Professor Madhu Bhaskaran won the prize for her work on electronic devices and sensors.

Since 2011, ASPIRE has recognised scientists under the age of 40 who are working in APEC member economies and have demonstrated a commitment to excellence in scientific research and cooperation with other APEC scientists.

Each member economy was invited to nominate one scientist under the age of 40 to be considered for the 2021 ASPIRE Prize.

Learn more about the ASPIRE Prize, including past winners.

© 2021 Australian Academy of Science

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