Kasper Hettinga appointed personal professor of Dairy Processing and Functionality

Published on
May 15, 2023

The Executive Board has appointed Kasper Hettinga as personal professor of Dairy Processing and Functionality in the Food Quality & Design chair group of Wageningen University & Research (WUR). Hettinga has been part of this chair group since his PhD research, and his work focuses on the digestion of proteins in milk and their impact on the immune system.

Kasper Hettinga

Hettinga's group is investigating the effects
that treatments, such as heating, have on milk and its proteins and health-stimulating substances. For example, the researchers discovered that UV light can make donated breast milk safer and more sustainable than
pasteurization, which damages valuable substances like antibacterial components, antibodies, and hormones in milk.

Digestion and immune system

Hettinga's research team is also looking into alternative sources of milk proteins, including goat's milk and plant-based milk alternatives. In the upcoming years, the team will delve into the effect of innovative shelf-life treatments and alternative proteins on digestion and the immune response. The aim is to gain a better understanding of milk protein functionality and to apply this knowledge to create innovative dairy processes and products.

In addition to research, Hettinga devotes a great deal of time and attention to education. He teaches three courses on dairy and also supervises graduation and internship projects. “Innovating and improving courses is a continuous source of energy for me,” says Hettinga. To further increase the practical relevance of his field of work, he transforms dairy-related questions from external parties into interesting graduation or internship studies.

From student to dairy expert

Hettinga joined WUR in 1998 as a food technology student. During his education he became increasingly interested in dairy research. “Research into dairy is fascinating because it brings together almost all subjects from food technology,” says Hettinga. That is why, following his studies, he pursued his PhD research WUR's Product Design & Quality Management chair group (now Food Quality & Design).

As an expert in the field of dairy, Hettinga is involved with several organizations such as the International Milk Genomics Consortium, the Sino-Dutch Dairy Development Center, and the Dutch Committee of the International Dairy Federation. He also advises various startups that focus on dairy innovations.