Thijs Ettema appointed professor of Microbiology, successor to Willem de Vos

Published on
January 23, 2019

The Executive Board of Wageningen University & Research has appointed Dr Thijs Ettema as professor of Microbiology. He succeeds Professor Willem M. de Vos, who was recently appointed as distinguished professor. The appointment is effective from 1 January 2019.

Professor T.J.G. (Thijs) Ettema (Veghel, 1977) studied Biology in Wageningen and graduated cum laude in 2000. He obtained an MA cum laude in 2005 in Microbiology, under the guidance of Professor Willem M. de Vos and Professor John van der Oost. He has held various postdoc positions, including at Uppsala University in Sweden, where he has built up a groundbreaking research group over the past 12 years in the field of microbial diversity and evolution.

At Uppsala University, Thijs Ettema was an associate professor in molecular evolution. In his research he concentrated on mapping the large variety of micro-organisms and their evolution, with special attention to the emergence of complex cellular life. By using modern genomics strategies, such as metagenomics and single cell genomics, Thijs Ettema has discovered countless new micro-organisms, including the 'Asgard archaea' – micro-organisms that are descended from the ancestor from which complex life forms such as plants, animals and fungi have also arisen. He has won various prizes and research grants, including the EMBO Young Investigator Prize, and two personal ERC grants, which together account for more than six million euros devoted to research.

From the beginning of this month, Professor Ettema will lead four work groups within the Microbiology chair group. Willem de Vos remains a distinguished professor of this chair, where his research is embedded in two of the work groups. De Vos is also chairman of the WU-wide appointment advisory committee, which advises the Rector on appointments as professors holding a personal chair.

In his research at the large (approximately 125 employees) Microbiology chair group at Wageningen University, Professor Ettema will focus on integrating and expanding new genomics technologies in ongoing research as well as setting up his own research group. Particular attention will be paid to developing methods to grow new, as yet unknown micro-organisms on a large scale, with the aim of studying them in detail. In addition to scientific research, Professor Ettema will make a strong commitment to maintaining the high esteem of Wageningen's microbiology research, to innovating education as well as to exploring various collaborations at national and international level.