Organisatie - 11 september 2014

Son receives PhD 20 years after father

Rob Ramaker

A special doctoral ceremony in Wageningen. When Harold Hounhouigan from Benin defended his thesis on 9 September he was following in his father’s footsteps. His father Joseph received his doctorate here 20 years ago.

Father and son Hounhouigan. Photo: Guy Ackermans

According to Harold, his father always loved telling stories about the faraway country where he had lived. ‘Throughout my childhood, I heard “Wageningen, Wageningen, Wageningen”.’ says Harold. 

In his doctoral research, Harold drew on marketing and food technology knowledge to study the pineapple. He showed that smarter pasteurization helps businesses to keep the quality of their pineapple juice more constant. Harold’s father received his doctorate in March 1994 from the former Agricultural University. Supervised by Professor Rombouts, he studied the fermentation of corn, necessary to make the characteristic West-African dish Mawè. 

Throughout my childhood, I heard “Wageningen, Wageningen, Wageningen”
Harold Hounhouigan

Wageningen turned out to be different from the other universities where he had previously studied. ‘Nowhere else offered the freedom and good supervision that you got here.’ Professors and students sat together at the lunch table and supervisors didn’t dictate, they advised. ‘Here you could even see a professor riding a bike,’ says Hounhouigan senior. ‘When I did that in Benin, people asked what was wrong. Why didn’t I go by car?’ And Joseph still has some contacts of his own in Wageningen. On the day his son received his doctorate, he was the opponent in another doctoral ceremony.