My current research focuses on interactions between cells, strains and species. Why do cells interact? And what factors constrain and therefore shape these interactions? I study these questions in defined synthetic consortia and apply the gained knowledge to improve biotechnological processes.
I also enjoy thinking about (high-throughput) selection and screening systems. What can we learn from evolutionary history; e.g. can we understand and predict fitness of organisms in different environments? Can we use this knowledge to optimize selection set-ups? And thinking about interactions again: how can we select for consortia with improved properties?
In my research I combine modelling and laboratory experiments. Models in various forms (e.g. back-of-the-envelope calculations, reaction-diffusion models, probabilistic models) can be used to shape our intuition and they force us to look at our questions from different sides. Therefore, this approach allows the identification of fundamental insights that can be very logical once you know them, but counterintuitive when you try to find them.
In the lab, I use amongst others compartmentalization of cells in microdroplets. This is a powerful high-throughput cultivation tool, that allows us to study biological and biotechnological questions and to validate model predictions.
It is clear to me that all these questions and challenges cannot be tackled by a single point of view, or by single researchers. I therefore collaborate and interact with people from inside and outside the Department of Biotechnology from the TU Delft, to enable relevant, creative and novel research.