Celebrating International Women’s Day 2024

Dr Bukola Onarinde

Dr Bukola Onarinde is an Associate Professor at the National Centre for Food Manufacturing (NCFM), University of Lincoln. She is a Food Scientist with broad experience in microbiology, food science and food chemistry. Bukola completed her PhD, which focused on control of environmental Vibrio species with bacteriophages, at the School of Life Sciences at the University of Lincoln. Bukola has over 13 years’ experience of conducting applied research in food microbiology and food science and have worked in collaboration with the food industries on several research projects. Bukola’s research includes biosurveillance of food pathogens, AMR studies, shelf-life studies, microbial risk assessment, metagenomics, WGS, metatranscriptomic analysis of VBNCs and process validation. Along with her research, Bukola is also the Postgraduate Research (PGR) Lead for her School and has supervised to successful completion PhD students. Bukola is currently 2nd Supervisor for Cohort 4 AgriFoRwArdS Student Jack Bradley, who is studying at the University of Cambridge.

Find out more about Bukola’s journey into science, and her career so far below:

What was your inspiration for becoming involved in science?

As a child I recall playing scientists with my brothers, mixing liquids in our pretend science lab in a spare room at home. I also remember pretending to be a nurse and sometimes a doctor, looking after pretend sick dolls. These childhood experiences laid the foundation for my interest in becoming a scientist. During my school days I took science subjects at O’ Levels and did biology, chemistry, and physics at A Levels. As I progressed in my studies, I recall during my bachelor’s degree project which involved surveying foods sold in the University canteen, I became aware of the connections between the quality of food, its microbial safety, and the well-being of consumers. After my bachelor’s degree I then progressed to do a master’s degree in food science, followed by a PhD degree. My PhD focused on studying the prevalence of a food pathogen in environmental and food samples and investigating potential strategy to control these pathogens. 

What excites you about science and technology? 

Looking at my career and my day-to-day work, I will say one of the things I find most exciting about my science career is the range of opportunities I am presented with, I have had the opportunity to work, and I continue to work, with different food industries both in the UK and outside, on various real life industrial challenges that I have applied my scientific knowledge to help solve. Also, with the advances in science and technology I have had the opportunity to develop new skills and also use novel technologies to enhance food safety throughout the entire food supply chain.  

What advice would you give to someone who wants work in a STEM subject? 

My advice for anyone aspiring to work in STEM subject is ensure first of all that a solid educational foundation is laid through a degree in the related field. Also specialising in a particular area of interest within science, technology, engineering, and mathematics should be considered. Also actively seeking practical experience through voluntary or paid work, internship, work placements will give hands-on exposure and provide understanding of skills required to work in STEM subject. Also seeking mentorship from experienced professionals in the field to gain guidance and support. 

What are the most memorable moments of your career so far? 

Being able to mentor junior colleagues through their career journey and seeing them grow and flourish as strong scientist in their chosen field. Supporting my MPhil and PhD students to successful completion. Also, providing a solution to a real-life challenge faced by food industry and contributing scientific evidence to support regulatory or policy changes through the research project I am involved in.  


Thank you to Bukola for taking the time to speak with us, and share her experiences of working within science, and the food sector.