Prof. Wijffels did a BSc in Food Engineering at the University of Applied Sciences in ‘s Hertogenbosch and an MSc in Environmental Engineering at Wageningen University followed by a PhD to develop sustainable technologies. He became assistant professor in the biotechnology program in Wageningen and did research in environmental biotechnology, yeast fermentation and biocatalysis. He also initiated the research themes marine biotechnology and algal biotechnology at Wageningen University.
In this research international collaboration and bridging the gap between scientific research and industrial applications are stimulated by the development of the pilot facility AlgaePARC.
In 2005 he was appointed as personal professor in Algae Biotechnology, followed by an appointment as professor in Bioprocess Engineering in 2007. Bioprocess Engineering develops innovative bio-based processes. The mission is to work on a sustainable and healthy future by engineering efficient bioprocesses for high quality products. Both photoautotrophic (microalgae) and heterotrophic (yeasts, bacteria) production systems for biobased products, as well as high-quality processes for the production of biopharmaceuticals (animal cells) are developed.
Prof. Wijffels initiated and directed the Centre for Biobased Economy for development of education programs in this field. From 2017 Wageningen University started an MSc program in Biobased Technology. In 2022 a program was started to set up education, research and scale-up of Cellular Agriculture (precision fermentation and cultured meat).
He was appointed as visiting professor at Nord University in Norway since 2013 to develop an algal research program with a focus on application in aquaculture.