What do microbes 'see' in industrial bioreactors? How does this affect their response? And how does their response affect bioprocess performance? That question is key to my research - optimizing bioprocesses from the microbial perspective, taking the industrial-scale production environment as a starting point. As such, my core research combines computational fluid dynamicsto analyze the large-scale design, scale-down to scrutinize the microbial response, metabolic modeling to learn from said response, and subsequent (model-based) scale-up to optimize the industrial scale.
What attracted me to my new department and university?
The opportunity to explore the interface between academia and industry. As my research is mainly applied, I am eager to explore industrial case studies on one hand. On the other hand, I enjoy doing research surrounded by colleagues with more fundamental research portfolios, that challenge me to translate their work into industrial applications. And most of all, I cherish being able to equip a new generation of bioprocesses engineers with all the tools they need to succeed, whichever side of the interface they end up at.
What are my one or two most favorite projects at this moment?
The microfluidic downscaling work of Gruenberger et al. is a promising step towards understanding microbial behavior in strongly variable environments, and I am eager to explore this field in the context of industrial bioprocesses. The second area of development that greatly interests me is the combination of artificial intelligence with mechanistic physical models. I see many opportunities to enhance process simulations in this way.
What I'd like to explore, learn or do with other scientist
There are too many options! My models and experimental approaches require input from many fields, more than I could possibly cover myself. To improve them, I am eager to collaborate with microbiologists, analytical chemists and hydrodynamicists on the experimental side, as well as mathematicians/(bio)physicists and (bio)informaticians regarding model development. And of course I am also most open to contribute to the work of others - explore how new bioprocesses (microbial, cell-cultures, pharmaceutical, you name it) could be scaled-up to an industrial environment, and what hurdles may be encountered.