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An Indian couple celebrates double graduation in New Zealand

Amit and Namrata met while studying in Amritsar, 17 years ago. In May, the couple, now parents of a 7-year-old, graduated together from Massey University’s College of Health
BY BrainGain Magazine Staff Writer |   22-06-2017
Amit and Namrata Taneja together outdoors on campus, wearing graduation caps and gowns
Namrata and Amit Taneja

Amit and Namrata Taneja have had plenty to celebrate lately – both husband and wife graduated in Food Technology in May, from the College of Health at Massey University, New Zealand. Amit got his PhD, and Namrata got a master’s degree with distinction.

The couple met while studying food science at GND University in their hometown, Amritsar, India, in 2000. Four years later, and now engaged, Amit moved to New Zealand to study at Massey University’s Manawatū campus, leaving his fiancée behind. After 18 months apart, they were reunited, and married shortly after Amit completed his master’s degree in late 2005. They live in Lynfield, West Auckland, with their seven-year-old son.

Amit, 37, jokes that Namrata has been incredibly patient. He says: “Not only did I leave her during our engagement to study in New Zealand, but she waited for me to complete my thesis so we could graduate together. My son was born at the same time as my PhD confirmation, so it has been a journey for the whole family.”

His PhD thesis focused on the changes that take place when spray drying milk protein stabilised emulsions with high oil content. He says, “Drying into a powdered format is a convenient way of increasing the shelf life of perishable emulsions and is generally carried out using spray drying. It is important that spray drying does not affect the structure of the emulsion, as this may negatively impact the physical and chemical properties of the resulting powder.”

He adds that his research confirmed that in-depth understanding of the impact of emulsion composition and the processing conditions used is crucial for designing new powdered emulsion products.

He currently works at Danone Nutricia as technology manager, where he looks after the new base powder development portfolio for early life nutrition. He explains that these are used to make products such as Aptamil and Karicare toddler milks. He adds, “I also work with New Zealand base powder suppliers to make sure they deliver the nutritional values and quality we expect for our products.”

Amit has always been keen to work at the forefront of innovation. He says, “It’s a real motivator. I love looking forward, reading new materials and investigating how to apply knowledge and science. It’s really exciting and innovative work. My passion lies between the interface of research and the industrial side of things.”

Namrata’s research was on maximising the viability of the probiotic strain Lactobacillus casei by optimising growth conditions and drying conditions. She also looked at alternative drying techniques, such as fluidised bed drying, as a lower energy intensive alternative to more expensive freeze drying.

The couple’s graduation was a family affair. Amit’s sister and niece attended the graduation ceremony. “Unfortunately, my parents couldn’t attend, but the live feed service of the graduation ceremony was brilliant,” he says. “Initially my father, an eye surgeon and a professor in a medical school in India, was disappointed he couldn’t make it, but his disappointment turned to joy once he was able to see us on the live feed.”

Some information about Massey University’s Master’s in Public Health is available in this video:

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