Published on 7 April 2014
A former chef who swapped his apron for a lab coat to become an environmental scientist will be awarded the University of the Sunshine Coast’s Chancellor’s Medal when he graduates on Friday 11 April.
Daniel Meloncelli, 38, of Mons, will receive the award at USC’s Science, Health, Engineering and Sports Sciences graduation at 5pm on Friday 11 April.
It will be one of three Chancellor’s Medals to be presented at USC’s graduation ceremonies over 10-11 April. The medal is awarded to outstanding graduates who have contributed to the University or wider community and achieved a high academic level during their USC studies.
Daniel said that while he had left behind his chef work, he retained his passion for food quality through his USC Bachelor of Science (Honours Class 1). He is now investigating the therapeutic potential of honey to treat chronic wounds.
“I did my Honours research on Australian and New Zealand honey, in particular the phenolic and volatile compounds in them,” he said.
“I’m looking to identify those compounds to create a profile – like a fingerprint – so we can tell the differences between types such as medical-grade Manuka and Jellybush.
“The honey industry is very interested in it, particularly in New Zealand where they want to protect high quality brands from counterfeit versions.”
Daniel, who gained a University Medal after completing his Bachelor of Environmental Science at USC in 2012, is continuing his research in a PhD at the University. He has received an Australian Postgraduate Award, worth more than $25,000 in Australian Government funding for 2014.
“I’ll be testing about 300 different types of honeys for their bioactivity and wound-healing, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties,” he said.
The former chef of 15 years said there were many similarities between cooking and chemistry and he hoped his research could “change the world, a little bit.”
He said he felt humbled to be receiving the Chancellor’s Medal after becoming immersed in both his degree and University life.
He has volunteered and worked at USC in many capacities, including Academic Skills Adviser, tutor, peer adviser, student mentor and fundraiser.
He is a member of the USC Inflammation and Healing Research Cluster and is developing the Academic Skills Mathematics and Statistics workshops.
He helped found the Cotton Tree Community Garden in 2010.
— Julie Schomberg