Nirzar studied food process engineering bachelor's in India, during which he was fascinated by the role of ingredients in product development. Eventually, with his keen interest in ingredients, he pursued MSc in Food Technology at Wageningen University and conducted his thesis on phase separation in binary mixtures. A programming-based internship at Unilever, the Netherlands, followed his thesis. With his growing interest in the potential of plant proteins and phase behaviour, he continued as a research assistant at FPH, working on developing a program for predicting phase behaviour for binary mixtures.
Apart from his PhD, Nirzar is involved in several projects. Currently, he freelances as a technical author for white papers and articles for Bakerpedia, a US-based knowledge platform for bakers. He is also working in VLAG PhD Committee and organising PhD trip in Food physics and physical chemistry.
Current PhD project: (Video)
Clean label solutions for structuring plant-based foods: Project Detail
Nirzar's current project is a part of a consortium for cleaning the label of plant-based foods. His research uses various approaches to design structuring solutions using plant proteins. The plant-based foods market is in an early opportunistic stage for agri-food investors. It is well understood that the future market leaders will be the companies providing sustainable and consumer-friendly products. The project strives to increase consumer appeal and acceptance by utilising familiar ingredients. The phase behaviour of plant proteins is studied to use their innate properties, reducing energy requirements, to develop novel unprecedented solutions for plant-based foods. The novel approach is derived by looking beyond conventional research practices in food sciences to incorporate principles and concepts from soft matter and biological sciences for innovative solutions.
Research questions and thesis topics for Soft matter and Physical chemistry students (molecular life science, Biotechnology):
- Develop an understanding of how altering charge densities affect the phase separation process and evaluate the system reversibility.
- Impact of thermal energy and diffusion on the condensate systems for the formation of irreversible covalent linkages to form microcapsules or hydrogels
- Designing an emulsifier for mickering emulsions for adhesives, colloidal gels and encapsulation
- Studying rheology, interfacial stabilisation and wetting kinetics of biopolymer complexes
Thesis topics for food science students:
Project 1: Developing ingredients for cleaning the label of plant-based foods
Project 2: Strategies for upscaling production of plant protein colloids
Project 3: Strategies for utilising plant protein-fibre synergy for structuring clean label meat analogue
Project 4: Investigating the Physico-chemical dynamics of plant protein coacervates