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Lyall Simmons

Lyall Simmons
Place of Work
Plant & Food Research

Lyall is part of a research group investigating food ingredients such as starch. This is important because starch can have a big impact on the amount of sugar released into the blood after eating. This has impacts on health, depending on how quickly the sugar is used by the body for energy.




Starch chemistry varies depending on where the starch comes from, for example, whether it is from a cereal or from veges like peas or beans. Alternative starches may give foods a healthier composition.

It's important people working in science have a flexible attitude...

Lyall is also looking at other food components, such as fibre, and the effect factors like particle size have on the digestion of food.

Lyall says that one of the best things about his job is the use of chemistry in the development of real food products.

Get focus story: Future foods

Career Pathway

Lyall has always been interested in chemistry, and he even ran a small laboratory while he was at high school.

His parents encouraged him to go to University, where he obtained a BSc in botany. Because there weren’t many scientific jobs around when he graduated, he got work in a glass factory running a bottle moulding machine. Later he got another job selling paint.

Finally he found his way into a chemistry job at the Wheat Research Institute (which no longer exists), where he managed the wheat quality testing program, liasing with the NZ wheat board.

Later he moved into food quality, running a food quality testing lab. Eventually, in 1995, he moved into pure research.

He says it’s important people working in science have a flexible attitude and are prepared to learn new skills and work in different areas. The skills he has now are completely different from those he started out with, so be prepared for plenty of change!


Lyall believes life shouldn’t be totally centred around work. He enjoys gardening, music, church activities and sculpture, producing works in wood, aluminium and bronze.


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