Can you describe briefly who you are and what you are currently doing?
"Hello! My name is Isha Mahajan. I am originally from India and came to The Netherlands 2 years ago to pursue my master’s. I completed MSc Food Biotechnology studies at Wageningen University & Research and am currently looking for opportunities in the food industry."
When did you first hear about your study programme and what did you think about it?
"I first heard about this university and my programme at the end of my B. Tech Biotechnology degree in India. My first impression about the MSc Biotechnology (MBT) course of WUR was that it offered diverse specialisations from which I could choose what I wanted to study.
Apart from the mandatory courses of every specialisation, I had the liberty to design my study programme and take up courses that I found interesting. Indeed, having so many options makes it difficult to decide what specialisation you would want to follow and most importantly which courses are important? Do you have the basic training in them?
How did you choose this master's?
Like anyone else, I was confused between 2 programmes- MSc Biotechnology (specialisation Food) and MSc Food Technology. My first instinct was to email the concerned person at the university and enquire more about the programmes by also giving a brief about my previous education. They assisted and guided me through with proper reasoning of why they thought one programme was better than the other for my profile. Reading more into the university website, the programme and the ongoing research in the field captivated and motivated me to pursue my master's at WUR."
Could you tell us something about your study programme?
"The course of MSc Biotechnology is a 2-year programme. The first year is focused on various compulsory/restricted optional/ and optional courses. The choice offered for the selection of the courses helped me to tailor my study according to my interests. The second-year consists of thesis and internship or minor thesis.
Since my passion lies in food, I chose the specialisation of Food Biotechnology. My courses in the 1st year revolved around Advanced Fermentation Science, Advanced Food Microbiology, Food Toxicology, Enzymology and Biorefining and the compulsory course for MBT program Bioprocess Design.
These courses helped me gain the required skillset to carry out my thesis and internship. I carried out my thesis in the Food Microbiology (FHM) chair group in the fermentation lab. It was titled ‘Production of dairy starter cultures at alkaline pH’. Later I carried out my internship at The Kraft Heinz Company which was focused on the Natural Preservation of their products. Since I was able to design my studies to my interests, I had a free canvas to sketch my journey."
Which part of your study did you find the most interesting?
"One of my favourite courses was Advanced Fermentation Science. This course is offered by the FHM Chair group and consists of a group project (70%) and an exam (30%). Working on the group project developed my project planning skills and gave me a glimpse of how thesis life would be.
My project topic for that course was ‘Production of fermented Vegan Burger enriched with Vitamin B12’, and I enjoyed working on it in a group but having set individual responsibilities. Another course that I liked was Food Allergies and Intolerances offered by the FCH Chair group. It was a very jam-packed course with lectures, lab classes and case studies."
What do you do besides studying?
"The university has a lot to offer apart from the world class education. I was a member of the student associations like CODON, IxESN and ISA. The sports centre has a variety of sports that one can practice and a variety of activity classes for which you can register. I followed Pilates, and Zumba group classes and also learnt to Squash. I also followed Dutch language classes at the Wageningen in’to Languages offered by the university."
What do you think about the student life in Wageningen?
"The pre-COVID 19 student life in Wageningen was very fun. There would be activities organised on weekday evenings by various student associations like weekly games, comedy nights, excursions, cuisine nights etc. They also organised parties on weekends where I went with my friends.
I would generally spend my evenings sporting, doing language courses, or partying/ chilling with friends and housemates. Various events that are the highlights of the city centre like the Palm indronk, Popronde, and the 5th of May that are worth attending.
The city has many cafes where I would meet friends for coffee or beers. The weekly ritual of Wageningen life is go to the Saturday market where there are food and non-food stand from the farmers, and local businessmen. Wageningen has nice quiet and scenic areas like the uiterwaarden, banks of Rhine, arboretum, de dijk, various parks (Torckpark) to go for a walk or sit and relax."