After my Master in biotechnology I got offered a PhD position at the chair group Bioprocess Engineering. A PhD is a 4-year scientific research project on a certain topic, in my case pigment production with microalgae. After my PhD, I started working in this chair group as a PostDoc and later as Assistant Professor. Currently I am working at Corbion, a company specialised in the production of biochemicals and food.
Could you tell us about your work practices?
"Within Corbion I am a principal scientist. My research is mainly on fermentation technology to produce organic acids, and on ensuring proper alignment of this fermentation technology with the purification of the acids. Besides that, I am leading the technical development of microalgal proteins for human consumption. During my academic career at Bioprocess Engineering I focussed on strain and bioprocess development of microalgal lipids and pigments, so that offered a good basis for my current work at Corbion. I enjoy what I am doing right now at Corbion, as my days are often quite versatile.’’
What did you do during your studies in Wageningen?
"I started studying in Wageningen quite some time ago already. The Bachelor and Master biotechnology were still called bioprocess technology at that time. During my studies I took the cellular and molecular specialisation, but I also had a lot of courses in process technology. The combination of these disciplines is in essence really what biotechnology is about. During my studies I did three thesis projects, which are nowadays covered by a Minor. For my internship I went to South Africa for half a year. This was a great experience, both for my personal and scientific development. Going abroad took me out of my comfort zone and living in a completely different culture was very stimulating. The scientific growth was due to South African research groups being particularly strong in theoretical subjects (at least at that time), so that allowed deepening of the basic theoretical training I received in Wageningen.
Next to my studies I was active in several committees within the study association CODON. This was great for general development. I was also board-member of the student & Future Foundation, which organised a business market every two years.’’
How has studying in Wageningen helped you overcome the challenges you encounter in your job?
"The critical scientific way of thinking that I currently have, is really something which I developed strongly during my time in Wageningen. During your Master programme you also follow a ‘course’ called Bioprocess Design, during which you really learn how to work in a group. This skill is also something which I really value up until today.’’