Ynsecter – Johan Van Vlaenderen, Entomologist Engineer


Get to know Johan, the insect whisperer

As a child, Johan imagined three paths for his future: studying math, sports or biology. During high school, he quickly gave up on the first, and on the second, he says he “didn’t have a very athletic physique and opportunities in sport were limited“. He then has went into biology, fascinated by the living and its mysteries. From the beginning of his further studies, Johan knew that he preferred practice to theory, so he decided to study a DUT in Biological Engineering. After getting his degree, he went to Edinburgh where he did another degree in Animal Biology, before returning to France, in Tours, to complete a Master’s degree in entomology. He then went back to Ireland for four and a half years for his PhD.  

This passion for insects came from his childhood, when he would catch them to watch them in jars ; but until the second year of his DUT, he didn’t know that he could turn this passion into a career. Thanks to one of his professors who encouraged him to take an internship in entomology, Johan found his path in life. He joined the Ÿnsect adventure in 2017, upon his return from Ireland: “when I got back, I typed insect in the Google search bar and looked for something that could be a fit. When I discovered the Ÿnsect ad for a job on the Dole site, I felt like I was returning home since I’m from this region“.  

At Ÿnsect, Johan is an entomologist engineer in charge of insect breeding. But as a natural explorer, he has also held various other positions: Line Operator, Quality Control, and R&D. This is what he likes the most on a day-to-day basis: “I like the fact that I can move from one subject to another. I think it wasn’t necessarily planned, but it’s a real willing of mine because I hate routine. I like to learn and understand all the subjects so I can see the whole picture. I can really adapt to anything“. Not surprisingly, it is adaptability than Johan chooses among Ÿnsect’s values. Johan also names it as one of the essential qualities for his job: “being versatile is essential. You also have to be able to look to the future, but not tomorrow, to six or eight weeks from now. You also have to be able to question yourself and everything you’ve learned in order to keep moving forward“.  

In addition, despite having a small team, Johan is committed to team spirit and teaching: “to succeed and think big, it is essential to be interested in what others do and understand it. Personnaly, I always take time to explain and answer all questions“. Johan is proud of Ÿnsect and his position, and hopes that the public will be open minded about eating insects in the future: “I don’t know if in 10 years we will be eating insects, people are not ready yet. In any case, I am convinced that people wil consume in a more responsible way and above all, that they will be more aware of environmental issues“.