UCC Food Microbiology student honoured with Musgrave Award

 UCC Food Microbiology student honoured with Musgrave Award

Student Reuben O'Hea pictured receiving the Musgrave Excellence in Food Microbiology Award from Lucy O'Connor of Musgrave Group, with Dr. Jennifer Mahony, Professor of Molecular Food Microbiology, and Colin Hill, Professor of Microbial Food Safety, at University College Cork.
Pic Diane Cusack


UCC student Reuben O’ Hea was recently honoured with The Musgrave Award for Excellence in Food Microbiology for his work and research on plant extract processing, the cheese making process and vacuum-packed chilled storage of meat.


Clonakilty native Reuben topped the class as the highest performing student in University College Cork’s Masters in Food Micro Biology Programme delivered through the college’s renowned School of Microbiology and received the award from Musgrave Food Safety and Quality Manager Lucy O’Connor for his efforts.


Reuben is a past employee of Musgrave and previously worked in in Trading as an Assistant Trading Manager for Moo’d & Frozen and then worked as a Brand Support Manager with the Moo’d Brand.


The focus of his project was to isolate, identify and characterise the yeast and mould isolates as well as evaluating the measures that can be used to control them, with the aim to improve the overall shelf life and the flavour profiling of the product.

Speaking upon receipt of the award, Reuben expressed his thanks to both Musgrave and University College Cork:

He said: “I recognise that this award is very prestigious and would like to thank Musgrave for their support of this. I know from my time with Musgrave as an employee they have a close working relationship with UCC and the Department of Microbiology which is internationally renowned. 

He added: The award has opened up some brilliant opportunities for me and I’ve spent the last number of weeks demonstrating in the teaching laboratory to undergraduate students in UCC. It has been very rewarding for me to see students with very little practical microbiology experience gradually progressing week to week and developing new skills which will stand to them in their future careers in microbiology. It’s something I have really enjoyed and previously would not have considered as a career path but I am definitely interested in pursuing further education opportunities in the future.”


This is the seventh consecutive year that Musgrave has had an association with the award and the group have a number of strong links with UCC in many areas such as:


Musgrave has strong linkages with UCC in many areas


  • Food Integrity Research having hosted the third annual UCC-Musgrave Guest Lecture on Food Integrity in recent weeks
  • Annual intake of students on placement programmes for the past 20 years, many of whom returned to work in Musgrave and take up placement in the Musgrave Graduate programme, while many members of the Food Safety and Quality team are UCC alumni, including Head of Food Safety and Quality Ray Bowe.


Speaking in relation to the award, Food Safety and Quality Manager Lucy O’Connor said the support of Musgrave for this award reflected the continuing positive association between UCC, Musgrave and the Musgrave Food Safety Team.


She added: “Safe and nutritious food is of vital importance to all consumers and research on microorganisms and their relationship with foods and the human host is essential in providing the platform for the developing the knowledge required to provide foods that are safe, healthy and nutritious.


“Musgrave Group believes in supporting new initiatives and research into areas within Food Production, food composition and packaging innovation. This provides Musgrave, its suppliers and customers unique access to technologies and innovations that will keep our food safe, last longer and ensure sustainable development of the food chain in Ireland and internationally. The leading-edge microbiological research conducted by the team at UCC is recognised globally and we are delighted to continue honouring this endeavour. “


Professor Colin Hill, Director of the MSc in Food Microbiology at UCC said that the college was “delighted to acknowledge the ongoing support of Musgraves for this important postgraduate programme.”


“Excellence in food safety, food quality and food production is vitally important for UCC and for Ireland and we appreciate the support in the form of this prize.  Congratulations to Reuben who is a really deserving winner,” he added.

press release