NSERC Chair for
Women in Science & Engineering

Feral Temelli

Dr. Feral Temelli

We all need to continue to support diversity to build on our success.

Professor, Food Process Engineering
University of Alberta

Dr. Temelli received her BSc in Chemical Engineering and MSc degree in Food Engineering both from the Middle East Technical University in Ankara, Turkey followed by PhD in Food Science from the University of Florida in the United States. She then joined the University of Alberta and is currently a Professor of Food Process Engineering in the Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science.

She served as the Director of the Food Science and Bioresource Technology Division and she is the co-leader of the establishment of a $25 million research facility called Agri-Food Discovery Place for small scale pilot processing research. Dr. Temelli’s research program focuses on the use of separation and conversion technologies for value-added processing of Canadian crops using supercritical carbon dioxide and other approaches.

She was the co-founder of a spin-off company based on the patented grain fractionation technology. Also, the supercritical drying technology she co-invented is licensed to a local company for commercialization. She is a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Supercritical Fluids.

As an academic, what is your favourite part of your job?

The favorite part of my job is working with young, enthusiastic and bright individuals and having the privilege to train them and help them achieve their career goals.

What are you researching and what excites you about it?

My research program is on the value-added processing of agricultural crops. Our main focus is on supercritical carbon dioxide technology, which uses carbon dioxide at temperature and pressure conditions above its critical point of 31oC and 7.4 MPa. As a supercritical fluid it has interesting properties in between those of a liquid and gas and it can be used as a solvent to replace petroleum-based organic solvents for some processes. We are working on new technology development involving lipid and bioactive compounds based on extraction, fractionation, reactions, membrane separation and particle formation operations. It is very exciting to be in the forefront of this field and be able to contribute to new knowledge generation to enhance our fundamental understanding of such processes.

What types of professions can students graduating in your field enter?

Students specializing in food science and technology can have careers in the food industry and related government sectors. They can be focusing on processing, quality control, new food product development and other aspects.

Is your workplace male-dominated? If so, how do you negotiate being a woman in a male-dominated workplace and/or field?

Approximately one third of the academic staff in our department is female. So, yes we can say it is male-dominated. However, as in all professions, you need to work very hard to be able to move up in your field. It is the quality of your work that gets you recognized

How do you foster and encourage diversity in your workplace?

In our department, we have a diverse group of staff and student body. I believe having such diversity contributes to the strength of our program. We all need to continue to support diversity to build on our success.

What kinds of systemic support could institutions provide to help encourage girls and women to pursue careers in science and engineering?

Communication is crucial to encourage girls and women to pursue careers in science and engineering. They need to be informed about what is involved in such careers and have their questions answered. WISEST has great programs to address this need as well as providing hands-on experiences on campus. I have participated as a role model and it was great to communicate with high school girls, sharing my experiences with them. I believe such programs should be expanded to reach out to a larger number of girls.

What advice would you give to girls or young women who are interested in careers in science or engineering?

Science and engineering are very exciting, challenging and rewarding fields. Explore all the different opportunities and follow your dreams. Work hard and success will follow.

As a professional in science or engineering, who are your role models and mentors?

I had great professors throughout my education. My supervisors during my MSc and PhD programs and senior colleagues were great mentors for me to achieve my career goals.