Thesis

Every day we are enjoying food together with our family or friends and food helps us to stay healthy. But how can we prepare foods that are better balanced so that you will prefer them over ‘unhealthy’ products and how can we make these products in a sustainable way? Finding answers to these questions is the goal of the Food Engineering group. We warmly invite you to help achieve our dream. A thesis at the Food Process Engineering group is preparing better foods in a better way.

Our research is very divers. Some examples are:

  • preparing tasty vegetable protein products
  • studying how solid food products are digested in the stomach to design healthier products
  • micro-engineered systems to produce emulsion products with unprecedented quality
  • nano-structuring of emulsion based products for better bioavailability
  • developing milder drying processes which are energy efficient
  • precisely measure the effect of processing on biopolymers with new designed instruments

Most of our work is in good collaboration with major food industries that are present in The Netherlands and abroad. But we also work together with a range of national and international academic groups of the best universities in the world. These collaborations can help you in your future career. In June 2015, our research was evaluated by a team of globally leading experts. They found our research excellent on all aspects, acclaiming the innovativeness of our work, our combination of fundamental and applied research, and our state-of-the-art experimental infrastructure. So you can be assured of the quality of your thesis project.

Interesting in taking up these challenge? Read the complete invitation of professor Remko Boom.

Before starting a thesis

What should you know before starting a thesis project in food process engineering?

Selecting a topic

If you would like to start a thesis project, it is wise to check out the possibilities beforehand. You could do this by exploring our website (http://www.wur.nl/fpe) or by reading the thesis booklet (a paper version can be obtained from Marjan de Lange, secretary Food Process Engineering, room K.2.13, Axis-X, building 118; students that prefer a pdf of the thesis booklet have to send a request via email to Anja Janssen).

You will find out, that most thesis projects are supervised by PhD students or Post-docs, but also by an assistant professor (UD-er in Dutch). In all cases, you will take part of the research of your supervisor and you will conduct research on a sub-project.

For selection of a BSc thesis (BLT) you are free to choose between all available topics (check with your study advisor, whether he/she agrees on your choice). For an MSc thesis, the topics can be restricted, dependent on your study and specialization. If you are not sure whether the topic you like fits within your specialisation, please contact your study advisor.

If you are interested in doing your thesis project outside of the university, at a research institute for example, you have to discuss this possibility with the prof. Remko Boom. This step is necessary in order to guarantee the quality of your research experience: the project and the supervision should meet our department standards.

After reading the thesis booklet it is advisable to make appointments one or more teachers. During an informal meeting you'll get a better idea about the possible projects and the availability of these projects. After this meeting you can make appointments with the supervisor(s) of the project of interest. Subsequently you can make the decision about where to start your project. Also now it is best to meet with your future supervisor and to discuss about the length, contents, starting date and location of your thesis project. However, before you actually start you should have the necessary prerequisites: for a thesis of 18, 21 or 24 credits you will need to have completed After reading this booklet it is advisable to make appointments one or more teachers. During an informal meeting you'll get a better idea about the possible projects and the availability of these projects. After this meeting you can make appointments with the supervisor(s) of the project of interest. Subsequently you can make the decision about where to start your project. Also now it is best to meet with your future supervisor and to discuss about the length, contents, starting date and location of your thesis project. However, before you actually start you should have the necessary prerequisites: for a thesis of 18, 21 or 24 credits you will need to have completed Food Production and Preservation (FPE-21306) or Food Engineering (FPE-20306). For larger theses (27-30-33-36-39 credits) you will need to have completed either Transfer Processes (FPE-31306) or Food Structuring (FPE-30306) or Sustainable Food and Bioprocessing (FPE-30806). Make sure to check the thesis contract.

You do not have to register via SSC for the thesis. It is sufficient to agree with your supervisor on the starting date.

If any questions still remain after having read this, you may approach the contact person for the theses: Anja Janssen (Room K.2.10b). For the information presented above and more, you can also go to the Food Process Engineering website: http://www.wur.nl/fpe. We hope you'll not only learn a lot during your thesis project, but that you will also have a great time in our group.

Forms

Thesis topics

Currently we have thesis topics available on:

Food Micro Technology (contact Karin Schroen)

  • Flow-aided Separation

  • Structuring and Emulsification

  • Encapsulation

Enzyme Reactions and Bio-Separations (contact Anja Janssen)
  • Affinity Separation

  • Enzyme Conversion and Kinetic Modeling

  • Food Digestion

Creating New Food Structures and Functional Ingredients (contact Atze Jan van der Goot)

  • Structured High-Protein Foods

  • Unraveling Structures to Extract Valuable Ingredients

  • Process Analysis using Exergy

Dry Food Processing (contact Maarten Schutyser)

  • Dry fractionation of Food Ingredients

  • Fractionation from Concentrated Suspensions

  • Drying of Foods

Emulsions, Encapsulation and Interfaces (contact Claire Carabin-Breton)

  • Interfacial Behavior of Food Proteins

  • Nano-engineering of Interfaces

  • Encapsulation of Food Micro-ingredients

More detailed information is given in the thesis booklet(a paper version can be obtained from Marjan de Lange, secretary Food Process Engineering, room K.2.13, Axis-X, building 118; students that prefer a pdf of the thesis booklet have to send a request via email to Anja Janssen).

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Starting the thesis project

On the first day of your thesis project, your supervisor will introduce you to the group and Marjan de Lange will deal with some administrative issues. At the beginning of the project you and your supervisor will draw up a contract to determine the contents of your thesis, the time schedule, the supervisors, etc. Moreover it will be compulsory to follow a safety course, since you have to be aware of the risks of your activities in the lab and know the rules for safety. Normally you start your project by reading literature to have more background knowledge about your subject. Together with your supervisor you will decide when to start with the actual research. Within 3 weeks you'll write a work assignment about the background and the goals of your research. After discussion and approval by your supervisor the work assignment is distributed among all FPE group members. It is useful to include a picture in the form.

FPE is having their group meeting on Thursday mornings, starting at 8.30h. We expect all group members (as a thesis student you are seen as one of our group members) to attend the plenary group meetings. It is our habit that new group members present themselves by mentioning your name, your research subject and the name of your supervisor.

Oral presentations

After 4-6 weeks, you'll give a short presentation (10 min.) to introduce your research, how you are going to deal with it and some intermediate results and discuss them. At the end of your thesis period you will have your final presentation (colloquium, 20 min.) about the final results of your thesis project. Your presentations are always reviewed with focus on the contents and the presentation techniques. Moreover these presentations are useful for feedback and tips from the audience. The schedule of the Thursday morning session is sent via email.

Evaluation meeting

After 1.5 months you will have an evaluation meeting with your direct supervisor. During this meeting you may discuss with your supervisor about the supervision and also your supervisor will give feedback on your functioning. The purpose of this meeting is to improve collaboration, not to judge! During your project you will have regular meetings with your supervisor to discuss results. The frequency of these meetings will be determined together with your supervisor.

Guidelines for the evaluation meeting

After 6 week student and supervisor have an evaluation talk. Goal is to discuss each others functioning. Also how the thesis goes according to expectations of both parties. It’s no judgment.

Setup of the talk
First the student explains what he or she wants to discuss. Then the supervisor does the same. Last to be discussed are the issues that come forward and together we can look at solutions.

More in depth
Student starts about how he thinks the supervisor functions and what can be improved like for example:

  • Availability
  • Too much involved
  • Supervision practical work
  • Theoretical explanation
  • More..

Functioning student
First student explains thoughts and feelings about next topics and then the supervisor.

  • Dedication
  • Time of working
  • Organization of the research
  • Creativity
  • Overview
  • Literature research
  • Contact with colleagues
  • Other?

Thesis content
Does the thesis meet the expectation? No practical things are discussed here, but it is about general matters like:

  • Defining the subject
  • Feasibility of goals
  • Innovative
  • Depth
  • Routine work or new things?

At the end of the talk clear appointments are made of how to handle certain ‘problems’ and after three weeks a quick revision is done.

Report

Writing the thesis report is part of the research project: you should reserve enough time for this activity. The introduction and materials and methods often can be already written in an early stage. Three weeks before the final date, at least the outline and contents should be ready. A draft version should be handed in to the supervisor, who will make suggestions/comments for the final version. When the final thesis is ready, you will hand in a pdf to your supervisor and the persons evaluating your thesis work. Usually this is done at least one week before the final talk. Also Marjan de Lange needs a pdf for the archive of FPE. Your supervisors might request a paper version of your thesis.

Final meeting and grading

If you have finished your final report, your thesis work will be evaluated during a final meeting with your supervisors and the examiner. During this meeting you will get questions about the contents of your thesis project and your report. Afterwards you will receive a grade. The evaluation forms are available for download.

The grade is then reported to the student administration by Marjan de Lange. Note that you do not have to register in advance for a thesis.

Forms

Termination of thesis work

When you finish your practical thesis work:

  • put equipment and chemicals back in place or discard as prescribed.
  • notify lab head of your departure.
  • clear working area and clean up for next user.
  • delete your user files on network drives.
  • Make sure that your supervisor has a copy of your datafiles, lab journal and other relevant data.