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A Taste for Science

Qerime Alimovski Ameti (OH 2007) has turned her passion for Science that stemmed from the laboratories at Haileybury into a fascinating career as a flavourist

NEWS 1 Mar 2022

Qerime joined Haileybury at the end of 2006 and was part of the first influx of girls attending VCE. She was also part of the first graduating cohort from Haileybury Girls College. Qerime had a passion for English literature and Chemistry but, at the end of the day, science won out and has led to Qerime becoming one of only a handful of people in the country working as flavourists.

When did STEM, and especially Science, become of interest to you?

My love for Science, particularly Chemistry and Biology, began during my middle school years. I was fascinated with forensic science and the TV shows that were popular then. Seeing forensic experts and scientists solve mysteries using scientific deduction and equipment felt rather magical and I tried to google theories and scientific facts based on those shows. I’d go into biology classes hoping we would cover some of those topics!

Why did you enjoy STEM?

Science is life. To understand the inner workings, functions and chemical interactions within the human body and the elements we are exposed to in nature is fantastic. There is seldom anything simple in STEM, so if you love complexity and taking your knowledge and understanding to the next level, you will enjoy STEM. I am still learning new things.

What stands out about your STEM experiences at Haileybury?

The most defining moment would be the first week of Chemistry and Biology during Year 12. I remember feeling overwhelmed by our study content and lab activities, however I had extremely supportive STEM teachers who took the time and effort to explain key scientific principles from different angles.

What did you study after leaving Haileybury?

Among other things I studied Chemistry, Biology and Psychology at VCE and when I left Haileybury I started my Bachelor of Science at Monash University. I completed a double degree in Biochemistry and Pharmacology and then my Honours degree in Pharmacology. I finished my thesis at the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine.

You work as a flavorist – what does that involve?

A flavourist chemically designs and formulates flavours for the pharmaceutical, food, cosmetic and beverage industries. There are very few qualified flavourists in Australia—I’m one of only six. There is no course or training available and candidates with strong chemistry or food science backgrounds usually then require mentoring to train as a flavourist. I didn’t even know this role existed when I started STEM in VCE.

What does a day at work look like for a flavourist?

I start my morning with taste testing while my palette is still fresh and untainted. A person might normally start their day with a coffee or a cup of tea and breakfast but I gave those things up years ago as they can dim palette sensitivity.

My morning taste testing evaluates new flavour creations that I have designed. I test them for shelf-life changes and taste different products that the food technologists have designed using my flavours. I also talk with customers about projects they want me to work on and I conduct training presentations and flavour training interstate and overseas.

What is your advice to students studying STEM?

There are so many options and possibilities for those with a strong STEM background. Science is life and there is so much still to be discovered. Careers in this field are so gratifying. I couldn’t imagine my life without my STEM background as it helped mould who I am today.