Speakers of 2020

Dr. ir. Robert Mans
Tenure Track Assistant Professor

Robert Mans will be the opening speaker of the 9th Life Science Symposium. He will give a general introduction of the different applications of biotechnology for a circular economy.

In the academic year 2011-2012 Robert Mans was announced best graduate of Delft University of Technology after obtaining his MSc degree with honours in Life Science and Technology. In this degree he managed to complete all three specializations instead of just a single specialization within a period of just 2 years. After his MSc degree he obtained his PhD at Delft University of Technology where he is currently following the tenure track for Assistant Professor.
His current research mainly focuses on the design and construction of industrial yeast strains that can subsequently be used as efficient platforms for the production of a wide range of fuels and chemicals. Research projects often include intensive genetic engineering strategies.


Prof. dr. ir. Mike Jetten
Professor in Microbiology

The first speaker of the 9th Life Science Symposium is prof. dr. ir. Mike Jetten:

Mike Jetten is professor in ecological microbiology at Radboud University Nijmegen. Since 2002 he also is extraordinary professor environmental microbiology at Delft University of Technology. In 2013 he became Director of Soehngen Institute for anaerobic microbiology. His research focuses on the ecology, physiology, biochemistry, metagenome and application of anaerobic microorganisms.
In 2012 he received the Spinoza Prize for his research on anammox-bacteria. He proved that bacteria use several reactions to obtain energy that were up to then considered impossible. The anammox bacteria can, in combination with another bacterium, be used for a more environmentally friendly method of wastewater treatment.
Next to the Spinoza Prize Jetten also received the ERC Advanced Grant in 2008 and 2013 and in 2017 he was awarded PhD Supervisor of the year by the national PhD council.

Mike Jetten will give a presentation about waste water treatment.


Prof. dr. ir. Lars Blank
Professor in Applied Microbiology

The second speaker of the 9th Life Science Symposium is prof. dr. ir. Lars Blank.

Currently Lars Blank is head of Institute of Applied Microbiology at RWTH Aachen University. From 1990 to 1997 he studied chemical engineering at the University of Dortmund and Biology from 1992 to 1997 at the Ruhr-University of Bochum. After this he did his PhD at at the University of Queensland, Australia. During his PhD he also worked as a visiting scientist at the Technical University of Denmark where he worked on reprogramming Lactococcus lactis from a purely anaerobe to a partially respiratory organism.
Since his promotion his research focuses on fundamental and applied aspects of microbial metabolism. He also examines the interaction between metabolic network and the introduced genetic and environmental perturbations. The research is aimed at a deeper understanding of cell function, with the ultimate goal of rational cell engineering. In his teaching he focuses on the integration of biological concepts with tools from bioinformatics and engineering, as he believes a solid life science knowledge base is essential for creative and successful work in the areas of metabolic engineering and synthetic biology.

At the Life Science Symposium Lars Blank will give a presentation about microbial recycling of the plastic polyethylene (PET).


Prof. dr. Maria Barbosa
Professor in Microalgal Biotechnology

Maria Barbosa is personal professor in microalgal biotechnology at Wageningen University. She started her research on microalgae during her masters in Portugal. In 2003 she obtained her PhD in Bioprocess Engineering on microalgal biotechnology. After this she worked as a postdoc at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and the European Molecular Biology Organisation. In 2008 she was asked to return to Wageningen University to set up the research pilot facility AlgaePARC, where she is currently the director. The goal of AlgaePARC is to fill the gap between fundamental research on algae and full-scale algae production facilities.
In 2013 she received the dutch l’Oréal-Unesco ‘For Women in Science’ grant for her work done on microalgae.
In 2019 she was also announced as the vice president of the Dutch Biotechnology Association. This association aims to stimulate professional activities and corporate social responsibility.

During the symposium she will give a presentation about the role of microalgal biotechnology in a circular economy.


The other speakers for the 9th Life Science Symposium will be introduced here through regular updates.