HAS University appoints Olga Haenen from Wageningen Bioveterinary Research as new professor

News 1 February 2018
Olga Haenen - HAS University

"This is a privilege and a challenge. Producing alternative, sustainable animal-based proteins such as those from insect or fish farming is important, with considerable advances being made."

Olga Haenen, senior researcher at Wageningen Bioveterinary Research in Lelystad has been appointed Professor of the new Chair in Novel Proteins, Insects & Fish: Healthy, Sustainable & Safe (INVIS), from 1 January 2018. The Chair will spend the coming years working towards an insect and aquaculture (fish farming) sector that, from a veterinary point of view, is healthy, sustainable and safe. The Chair will establish a close collaboration between HAS University of Applied Sciences and Wageningen Bioveterinary Research. Olga has spent over 30 years at Wageningen Bioveterinary Research, working on diagnosis and research into fish, shellfish and crustacean diseases, and has a wide network of international contacts in the field.

Onshore aquaculture

Worldwide, fish is viewed as an important source of protein for the future. Producing fish sustainably using insect proteins can contribute towards reducing the impact on the climate while also fulfilling increasing demands for protein. The new Chair aims to link Dutch onshore aquaculture with insect farming by using healthy and food-safe insects as a source of protein in fish food, possibly grown on materials from waste flows. This meets the clear need for connecting the two sectors as well as that for increasing production of novel, fish and insect proteins.

The Chair is based on three research areas, each resulting in a Research Agenda, an Education Agenda and a Business Agenda:
•    Research Area on Edible Insect Farming Farming insects as an ingredient for food for people or for animal feed has been taking place in the Netherlands and Belgium for around 10 years. One of the aims of the Chair is to develop a health monitoring system for edible insect farming businesses
•    Research Area on Aquaculture One of the focuses of the Chair is on developing guidelines for optimal, sustainable, safe aquaculture in a healthy supply chain, for onshore fish farms in the south of the Netherlands
•    Research Area on Insect-based Fish Food Using insects as a source of protein in fish food is a new concept and is not yet widely used in practice. HAS University of Applied Sciences and Wageningen Bioveterinary Research aim to play a pioneering role in this field in collaboration with business
In all research areas, our expertise will also be applied in the area of diagnosing and conducting research into diseases of insects and fish, hygiene, contact zoonotic bacteria, health parameters, epidemiology and disease prevention.

Expanding education and research

The Chair focuses on expanding education at HAS University of Applied Sciences and research at Wageningen Bioveterinary Research, as well as applied research, both explorative and compiling reviews, conducted by the HAS under the supervision of Wageningen Bioveterinary Research. In addition to Professor Olga Haenen, the Chair has an expertise network with participation by lecturers and teaching researchers from the study programmes Applied Biology, Animal Husbandry and Environmental Studies.

Challenge

Olga Haenen is looking forward to starting her work in the Chair. “This is a privilege and a challenge. Producing alternative, sustainable animal-based proteins such as those from insect or fish farming is important, with considerable advances being made. I have spent decades working on the health and diseases of cold-blooded animals and insects have been added to the scope of this. As a professor, I, together with my HAS colleagues and students, will have direct contact with the farming sector. We want to help the sector improve by setting up guidelines to optimise management factors, prevent diseases, increase sustainability and the safety of the farmed product for the consumer and the employees at the businesses in the supply chain. This requires a synergetic process: knowledge exchange between partners, development of education at the HAS, training within the sector and expansion of the research at WBVR.”

About Olga Haenen

Olga Haenen studied Biology with a major in aquaculture at Wageningen University and Research (until 1985). In 1995, while working at the former CVI (Central Veterinary Institute), she obtained her doctorate on the pathobiology of an eel parasite introduced from Asia. She has now been active for over 30 years within Wageningen Bioveterinary Research (previously the CVI), part of Wageningen University and Research, in Lelystad. She is a senior researcher in fish, shellfish and crustacean diseases and head of this field at the National Reference Laboratory. As an all-rounder in this field of expertise, she has a great deal of experience in research and knowledge transfer, with a large national and international network.