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I studied Biotechnology at the Technical University of Braunschweig, University of Kyoto, Japan, and University of Stuttgart, Germany. I received my PhD in 2001 at Wageningen University, and have then worked as a postdoc with Prof. Dave Stahl at the University of Washington, Seattle, focusing on the development of DNA arrays for microbial community analyses. Since 2003, I head the Microbial Ecology Group at the Laboratory of Microbiology, Wageningen University & Research. My research focuses on the integrated application of innovative cultivation and functional genomics-based methods to study composition and activity of microbial communities. Research areas that excite me include i) microbiota associated with the intestinal tract in humans, production animals and wildlife; ii) microbial communities in environmental biotechnology, and iii) microbes and their cellular biomarkers as proxies for ecosystem life history & environmental change. In this context, research in my group increasingly follows a OneHealth philosophy and aims at developing insight that allows managing microbiomes towards sustainable environmental, human and animal health.
I have been member of the Management Team of the National BE-Basic program, and Senior Scientist and Theme Council member at TI Food & Nutrition. Since 2018, I am coordinator of the UNLOCK research infrastructure for research on microbial communities. I currently (co)supervise approximately 20 PhD students. I have (co-)authored over 300 peer-reviewed publications that in most cases were the result of extensive collaborations with other groups within and beyond Wageningen University & Research. I am (co-)inventor of several patents. I very much enjoy my role as Editor in Chief of ISME Communications, as well as as Associate Editor of FEMS Microbiology Reviews. Since 2008, I hold a position as Visiting Professor at Nanjing Agricultural University, and since 2010, I hold a Personal Chair in “Complex Microbial Ecosystems” at Wageningen University.