Dr J Hugenholtz (b. 1957) has been appointed professor of Industrial Molecular Microbiology at the Faculty of Science of the Universiteit van Amsterdam (UvA). The chair has been endowed by Stichting Bèta Plus (Science Foundation).
Jeroen Hugenholtz performs research on food fermentation, and in particular on micro-organisms, which have a key role in this process. Hugenholtz’s expertise - from his PhD research at the University of Groningen and from seventeen years’ experience at NIZO food research - is mainly in the area of lactic acid bacteria. His research predominantly focuses on steering fermentation processes in the industrially desired directions, which results in enhanced flavour formation or in an increase in the nutritional value of food (such as cheese and yoghurt), for instance via the production of vitamins. The increase in nutritional value in particular receives much attention and the process of food fermentation is an appealing way of achieving this through natural methods.
In his research at the UvA Hugenholtz will be focusing on increased control of the fermentation processes via a systems biology approach. He will be analysing the fermentions in detail, especially the lactic acid bacteria involved, using genomics techniques. The knowledge obtained can be used for setting up descriptive and predictive mathematical models of the lactic acid bacteria during food fermentations. With the aid of these models fermentation processes can be performed more effectively; moreover, it will be possible to design new fermentation processes (using different lactic acid bacteria and/or other food substrates).
Hugenholtz has been working at NIZO food research in various positions since 1989 and has been principal scientist Health & Safety since 2004. Furthermore he is principal scientist at the Wageningen Centre for Food Sciences (WCFS) in the research programme Microbial Functionality and Safety. Hugenholtz is also vice president of The Kluyver Centre for Genomics of Industrial Fermentation, a national centre of excellence in the area of Genomics.