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.



Dr. René Rozendal
Chief Technology Officer of Paques

Dr. René Rozendal is the Chief Technology Officer at Paques Technology, a position he has held for four years now. He did his masters degree in Biochemical Engineering at Delft University of Technology which was followed by a PhD in environmental biotechnology at Wageningen University (both with honours). After finishing his PhD, he worked as a Research Fellow at the Advanced Water Management Centre of The University of Queensland, focusing on the development of novel bioelectrochemical wastewater treatment processes. From 2017 to 2019 he also obtained his executive MBA at IMD business school, again with honours.
Paques is a globally operating company for (biotechnological) industrial water and gas treatment. As CTO, René Rozendal is in charge of the technologies and leads an R&D group of around 25 people.

At the Symposium Rene Rozendal will give a presentation about the technology Paques uses to reuse waste streams into valuable sustainable products.


Dr. Dennis Claessen
Associate Professor

Dr. Dennis Claessen is associate professor Microbial Biotechnology at Leiden University. He obtained his masters degree (cum laude) in Molecular Microbiology in 2004 at Groningen University. After completing his masters degree he stayed at Groningen University for a PhD in Mathematics and Natural Sciences, which he also completed cum laude. After getting his PhD he worked as a postdoc at several universities, such as Newcastle University, the University of Oxford and Groningen University before starting the Tenure Track for Assistant Professor at Leiden University.
At Leiden University he now has his own research group which focuses on morphogenesis and phenotypic heterogeneity in filamentous actinomycetes, which are prolific antibiotic producers. Their aim is to tackle fundamental questions, and use the generated knowledge to improve industrial exploitation of these organisms. In 2018 they found that some bacteria, when under stress, are able to make cells without a cell wall. For this research project he was recently awarded a Vici grant.

At the symposium Dennis Claessen will give a presentation about transmission of antimicrobial resistance genes and engineered DNA from transgenic biosystems in nature.


Dr. Yuemei Lin
Assistant Professor

Dr. Yuemei Lin is assistant professor at Delft University of Technology. Her research focuses on extraction and characterization of extracellular polymers in microbial aggregates, such as granular sludge and biofilm. It also focuses on understanding the role of extracellular polymers in microbial aggregates formation and converting the polymers into useful materials. This research also forms the basis on the Delft University of Technology startup Slimy green Stuff.
In 2019 she was awarded the Zilveren Zandloper innovation award for for her research efforts in adding value to waste products via the characterization and application of microbial polymers produced in wastewater treatment plants.

During the symposium, Yuemei Lin will give a presentation about recovery and application of extracellular biomaterial from waste sludge.


Prof. dr. Hans Aerts
Professor in Medical Biochemistry

Hans Aerts currently is full professor in medical biochemistry at the Leiden Institute of Chemistry of Leiden University where he now studies lysosomal storage diseases. He obtained his masters degree in Biology, with honours, at Radboud University Nijmegen. After finishing his masters he did a PhD at the University of Amsterdam where he stayed for postdoctoral research and in 2000 he became full professor in biochemistry. Then, in 2013 he started as part time professor in chemical biology at the Leiden Institute of Chemistry. In 2015 he started with his current function at the Leiden Institute of Chemistry.
Through the years Hans Aerts has received several grants and awards, the most recent one being the 2016 NWO Building blocks of life grant with prof. Hermen Overkleeft and prof. Sjaak Neefjes.

At the symposium Hans Aerts will give a presentation about how human cells use the lysosomal machinery to turn waste into resource by recycling nutrients and how biotechnology can be used to combat lysosomal storage diseases.


Robbert Binneveld
Process Engeneer, Chaincraft B.V.

Robbert Binneveld is process engineer at Chaincraft. He obtained his bachelor Life Science and Technology at Delft University of Technology and Leiden University and his masters degree in Biochemical Engineering at Delft University of Technology. After finishing his masters degree he started working at Chaincraft, a biotechnological company that specialises in converting organic waste to new chemicals using fermentation processes.

Robbert Binneveld will give a presentation about Medium Chain Fatty acids that can be used in the plastic- and flavoring industry.


Prof. dr. ir. Antonius van Maris
Professor in Biochemical Engineering

Prof. dr. ir. Antonius van Maris is professor biochemical engineering at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. From 2005 to 2012 he was (assistant) professor Industrial Microbiology at Delft University of Technology. Together with Prof. Jack Pronk he was involved in the LST bachelor courses Biotechnology and Microbial Physiology, in addition to this he was also involved in the teaching of the course Design of Sustainable Biotechnological Processes (ODBP).
In 2016 he became professor biochemical engineering and head of the department of industrial biotechnology at KTH. His research now focuses on Design of Sustainable Biotechnological Processes.

During the symposium he will give a presentation about Engineering Yeast and Clostridium thermocellum for alcoholic fermentation of agricultural residue.


Prof. dr. Lisbeth Olsson
Professor in Industrial Biotechnology

Prof. dr. Lisbeth Olsson is professor and head of division Industrial Biotechnology at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden. Lisbeth Olsson obtained her masters degree in Chemical Engineering at Lund University in 1987, after this she went on to obtain her PhD in Applied Microbiology, also at Lund University, which she finished in 1994. In 2008 she started working at Chalmers University where she has her own research group.
Her research focuses on design and use of enzymes and microorganisms in processes where plant cell wall material is converted to fuels, chemicals and materials.
In 2017 she was elected to become a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences. In 2018 she received the Charles D. Scott Award, an award that recognizes individuals who have made distinguished contributions to enable and further advance the use of biotechnology to produce fuels and chemicals. In 2018 she also received the Chalmers Foundation Award which was established with the goal of helping guide Chalmers to conduct research and education at a top level internationally.

During the symposium Lisbeth Olsson will give a presentation about her work regarding lignocellulose based processes.


Dr. Jennifer Holmgren
CEO of LanzaTech

Dr. Jennifer Holmgren is CEO of LanzaTech, a carbon recycling company that is working towards developing a variety of platform chemicals and fuels, including the world’s first alternative jet fuel derived from industrial waste gases.
Jennifer Holmgren obtained her bachelor’s degree at Harvey Mudd College, a PhD at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and an MBA at the University of Chicago. She is also the co-author of 50 US patents and 20 scientific publications.
Jennifer Holmgren has received many awards, in 2003 she was the first woman ever to receive the Council for Chemical Research Malcolm E. Pruitt award. In 2015 Dr. Holmgren and her team at LanzaTech were awarded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Presidential Green Chemistry Award and she was awarded the BIO Rosalind Franklin Award for Leadership in Industrial Biotechnology. Sustainability magazine, Salt, named Dr. Holmgren as the world’s most compassionate business woman in 2015. In October 2015, Dr. Holmgren was awarded the Outstanding Leader Award in Corporate Social Innovation from the YWCA Metropolitan Chicago. Jennifer Holmgren is also the 2018 recipient of the AIChE Fuels & Petrochemicals Division Award as well as the Biofuels Digest Global Bioenergy Leadership Award.

Dr. Jennifer Holmgren will give a presentation about how innovation and ancient biology enables us to convert waste carbon emissions from a liability into an opportunity.