Agboola Jeleel Opeyemi crowned winner of Nutreco’s Young Researchers’ Prize 2022

Agboola Jeleel Opeyemi has been crowned the winner of this year’s Young Researchers’ Prize, securing the top €12,000 cash prize to help further his research.

The prize-winning project “Can fish grow on trees? Yeast as future feed ingredient”, presented by Agboola Jeleel, a graduate from the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NBMU) caught the judges’ eye because of its exploration into the nutritional and functional potential of yeasts produced from wood sugars as sustainable fish feeds. 

  • Agboola Jeleel Opeyemi Research Fellow (PhD), Animal and Aquacultural Science, at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences was named the winner of this year’s prize at the virtual winners’ ceremony
  • Agboola Jeleel’s winning project saw him awarded the top €12,000 cash prize
  • Chiara Guidi, Postdoctoral Researcher at Centre for Synthetic Biology at the University of Ghent was awarded the €8,000 second place and Giulio Giagnoni, PhD graduate student from Aarhus University in Denmark secured the €5,000 third place prize.
“I’m extremely honoured and excited to be named this year’s Young Researchers’ Prize winner. Having my research recognised in such a way reassures me that I’m making a proactive and meaningful contribution towards feeding our growing population more sustainably. I’m looking forward to using the prize money to further my aquaculture research as well as dedicating some time to my own personal and professional development.”

“My advice to every young scientist is to always cultivate a curious mindset and I’d thoroughly encourage anyone considering applying to next year’s prize to do so. Having also applied in 2019, I’m a prime example of no matter the challenge, you can achieve anything you put your mind to if you work hard and strongly believe in yourself. Thank you again to all the judges and Nutreco for their ongoing support of young researchers like myself. Also, I would like to appreciate all my mentors, this couldn’t have been possible without the incredible support I received from everyone of them over these years”
Agboola Jeleel

The second-place cash prize of €8,000 goes to Chiara Guidi from the University of Ghent, Belgium, whose research explores a means of tackling antimicrobial resistance through the production and use of Chitooligosaccharides that target pathogens in the guts of weaning piglets, improving their immunity and growth, whilst preventing illness and reducing the need for antibiotics.

On being awarded the second-place prize, Chiara said: “I was delighted to be named one of Nutreco’s Young Researchers’ Prize finalists, so to be awarded the second place is a huge accolade. I’m looking to further my research idea through an independent company so I’m excited to put the prize money towards kicking off our first financial and business plans. A special thank you to all the jury members and judges for taking the time to consider all our applications – seeing big corporations like Nutreco not only championing young researchers’ work but also being so invested in more sustainable farming is extremely encouraging”

Finally, the third winner of the Nutreco Young Researchers Prize is Giulio Giagnoni from Aarhus University, Denmark. Giulio received a cash prize of €5,000 for his research project, which aims to identify climate-efficient phenotypes of dairy cows and reduce methane emissions by amending their diets.

On coming third, Giulio said: “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being a part of this year’s Young Researchers’ Prize. It’s been so inspiring to be here in Amsterdam with all the judges and my fellow finalists. The prize itself is great for stretching researchers to think about their research within a global context and how it’s solving a real-life challenge to sustainable food production. Thank you to Nutreco and all the judges for recognising the value and contribution our research could make toward feeding the future more sustainably.”

The first, second and third place winners were announced yesterday in Amsterdam, as part of an award’s ceremony which was also live streamed online.

Nutreco’s Young Researchers’ Prize challenged PhD students and first- and second-year post-doctorate researchers to put forward innovative ideas that could contribute to Nutreco’s overarching purpose of Feeding the Future. A total of 37 applications from young academics from across the world showcased innovative solutions towards sustainable and environmentally conscious farming practices.


“Many congratulations to all three finalists on their fantastic, innovative, and thoughtful research projects. Agboola Jeleel, Chiara and Giulio and their respective Universities should be incredibly proud of themselves. Special congratulations must go to Agboola Jeleel for his research that examines the nutritional and functional potential of yeasts produced from wood sugars as sustainable fish feeds – a truly innovative solution to sustainable fish farming.

Thank you to all who applied. My fellow judges and I have thoroughly enjoyed judging this year’s fantastic pool of applicants. It’s been immensely encouraging to see the diverse and creative solutions the next generation of thinkers have to some of the most urgent issues facing our industry. Everyone at Nutreco is excited to see how Agboola Jeleel, Chiara and Giulio will make use of the prize money to further their brilliant ideas.”
Leo Den Hartog, Head Judge, and Nutreco N.V Board Member and former R&D Director

Nutreco’s Young Researchers’ Prize will be back in 2024 – follow Nutreco on LinkedIn and Twitter to be the first to hear about submissions opening.