The Wageningen Alternative Protein Project:
What it is and How to Get Involved
Wageningen university is a leading university (both in the Netherlands and worldwide) in different areas of environmental, food, and sustainability sciences. Besides its wide range of educational programs offered by the university itself, it also sees a great number of student initiatives seeking to both push the university to continuous improvement of its own program and increase the number of resources and connections available to the students. One such initiative is the Wageningen Alternative Protein Project, which was founded in 2020 and recently hosted a virtual Kick-off event to introduce itself to the student body. If you were unable to attend, there is no need to worry – this post will tell you all about what the Wageningen Alternative Protein Project is, what it is trying to achieve, what it offers for students, and how you can get involved.
What is the Wageningen Alternative Protein Project
The Wageningen Alternative Protein Project is a student initiative that advocates for the research and development of (as the name states) alternative sources of protein to the conventional meat, eggs, and dairy. This includes plant based protein, biomass and precision fermentation, and cultured meat. The project is supported by the Good Food Institute, an international non profit working to foster research and innovation in alternative proteins, As such, the Wageningen Alternative Protein Project belongs to a network of students in multiple universities leading contemporary food research. These student groups, while part of the project initiated by the GFI, are independent actors which can define their own priorities and agendas.
Where did it come from?
The Wageningen Alternative Protein Project was founded by Panayiotis Vlachogiannis, a student who felt that while plant based protein research at WUR was well developed, other sources of alternative protein were under-researched and represented in the university’s curricula and initiatives. He joined forces with Aditya Vaze, Shan He and Anna Celli, and together they decided to start this project in order to fill in this gap within the university’s opportunities. A few months later Julia Gil Negrete Martin also joined the team. When it comes for pushing for further research in the university, the Wageningen Alternative Protein Project focuses on expanding the Fermentation and Cultured Meat alternative protein sources, although this does not mean they forgo attention to plant based meat research and industry connections.
What does it do?
As stated earlier, the project seeks to promote the research of alternative protein projects at WUR. What does this mean in practice? The project targets four areas: education, research, industry, and communication. Under its educational branch, the board is currently working to develop a Capita Selecta course relating to alternative protein, as well as trying to include alternative protein related projects in ACT courses. This is only the beginning: the board hopes to be able to push for the inclusion of full program courses relating to the research and development of alternative protein sources. In relation to research, the project is seeking to promote BSc and MSc research projects in alternative protein, as well as promote open access research in alternative protein by the university. Regarding industry, the Wageningen Alternative Protein Project plans to host talks from experts, as well as to connect students at WUR with internship opportunities in companies leading in the alternative protein field. Lastly, the project also has a communication branch, which involves publicizing research into alternative proteins through its social media channels, promote alternative protein related social events (also in collaboration with other student associations, and to create a vibrant community of alternative protein enthusiasts at WUR.
How can you get involved?
If this sounds interesting, there are many ways to get in touch. You can follow the Wageningen Alternative Protein Project on facebook or linkedin, where they share content and events related to alternative protein research and development. Soon you will also be able to join their discord if you would like to participate in discussions and other such activities within a community of people interested in alternative proteins. Within this discord they are also planning to launch a journal club where you can join to discuss the newest published articles around alternative protein sources.
The Wageningen Alternative Protein Project is a student initiative, and as such they are very interested in hearing your thoughts and ideas. Make sure to contact them if you have suggestions for the brand new association – if you have any project, research, or internship ideas, they will gladly discuss these with you or try to help you with your project or internship goals. To contact them, email them at firstname.lastname@example.org or reach out through their social media accounts.
By: M.C. Oliani with the support of the Wageningen Alt. Protein Project Board.
Images from the Wageningen Alt. Protein Project Kick-off Event Presentation