“Hello! My name is Justin van der Hooft and I am currently an Assistant Professor at Wageningen University in the Bioinformatics Group. Here below, I will introduce myself to give you an idea of how an academic career could look like. I will also explain my choice for the master’s Molecular Life Sciences and what I learned during my MSc that is relevant for my career."
How did I get where I am now?
"After my BSc and MSc in 'Molecular (Life) Sciences' in Wageningen, I continued here to do my PhD in Systematic Metabolite Identification and Annotation. During my PhD, I gained skills and hands-on experience in different aspects of the metabolomics pipeline.
Afterwards, I moved abroad to start my postdoctoral career as research associate in Glasgow. Some time later, I moved back to Wageningen to take up a shared postdoctoral position between the Bioinformatics Group at WUR and the group of Prof. Pieter Dorrestein at the UCSD, USA. Three years after that, I could start my own group in Wageningen that will develop computational metabolomics methodologies to better understand complex metabolite mixtures and apply these workflows to study plant and microbiome-associated metabolites and the food metabolome."
"My choice for the MSc in Molecular (Life) Sciences was probably already made at the BSc level. I was, and still am, intrigued by the molecular world in and around us, and Wageningen University offered an excellent and long-standing program in molecular sciences. In addition, I liked the student life in Wageningen so it was not a tough decision to continue my studies in Wageningen. The MSc did prepare me in manifold ways for my career. The courses provided me with a solid background in spectroscopic techniques and the many practical courses also helped to gain hands-on experience with a number of instruments. During my MSc theses at Biochemistry and Biophysics I learned how to do your own research and write a proposal. I think it is fair to say that the foundations for my career were in Molecular Life Sciences.
Of course, you cannot learn everything you need during your MSc, as for example, back then, I could not follow any courses in data science or computational workflows – something I would have benefited from today in my current role. However, altogether I am still happy with my choice for Molecular Life Sciences!”