Molly (Gabaza) Muleya

Mineral bio-accessibility of cereals and legumes as influenced by agronomic management and soil contamination in Zimbabwe and Malawi

Doctorate: PhD Applied Biological Sciences: Food Science and Nutrition, Ghent University, Belgium, 2018
Home mentor: Dr. Prosper Chopera, University of Zimbabwe
Host mentor: Dr. Elizabeth Bailey, University of Nottingham

Short biography:

Molly Muleya is a food science and nutrition expert passionate about research at the interface of agriculture, food science, nutrition and health with an overall goal of achieving food and nutrition security for all. Her PhD focused on the mineral bioaccessibility of traditional porridges typically consumed in Zimbabwe and the effect of several conditions such as processing (fermentation and cooking), food-to-food fortification and the origin of porridges. A major lesson drawn from this work was that agriculture plays an important role in mineral nutrition, and the cycling of minerals from soils to crops and then to humans needs evaluation. Molly is currently working on agricultural intervention strategies (such as agronomic biofortification and conservation farming) and their potential to address hidden hunger. In addition to that, she is also working on the effect of inadvertent soil ingestion on iron intake in smallholder farming communities of Zimbabwe and Malawi.

Project summary:

The goal of Molly's IMMANA Fellowship-supported research is to determine the mineral bioaccessibility (meaning the in-vitro bioavailability) of cereals and legumes grown under different agronomic management strategies from Zimbabwe and Malawi with a view to identifying practices that can lead to both increased mineral grain contents and increased mineral bioavailability. Improved mineral bioaccessibility, which refers to the proportion of minerals released from the food matrix in conditions found in the digestive process, is a prerequisite for improved bioavailability.
In addition, this research will determine the bioaccessibility of different types of soils contaminating cereals so that we can better interpret dietary iron intake data from developing countries.