Professor Sef Heijnen appointed a Knight of the Order of the Netherlands Lion

26 April 2017 by Communication TNW

Professor Sef Heijnen, emeritus professor of Bioprocess Technology at the faculty of Applied Sciences, was appointed a Knight of the Order of the Netherlands Lion in a ceremony in Rijen.

Professor Heijnen was awarded this distinction for his revolutionary scientific work, which has major societal relevance and has led to international recognition.

After a successful career at Gist Brocades, Heijnen became a professor at TU Delft in 1988. His first ten years there were devoted primarily to environmental biotechnology, particularly in the field of wastewater treatment with the use of micro-organisms, a pioneering role he had already fulfilled at Gist Brocades. His unique aspect was that he did not restrict himself to the reactor vessel when modelling reactor processes, but also considered the biochemical processes within the micro-organisms. This approach was eagerly copied in Europe and farther afield, gaining the name ‘Delft school in bioprocess technology’.

Around 1998, Heijnen gradually began to explore deeper in the metabolic engineeringof industrial micro-organisms, with the aim to increase the production of important substances through targeted adjustments ofmetabolic routes. He was closely involved as co-founder and research leader in the distinguished Kluyver Center for Genomics of Industrial Fermentation, and the public-private B-Basic and BE-Basic partnerships.

Professor Heijnen was greatly admired by his students and colleagues as a teacher and was awarded the TU Delft Best Professor Award in 2002. For his scientific achievements, he has been awarded important distinctions like the DSM ChemFerm Award in 1998 and the Akzo Nobel Science Award in 2004. Since 2008, he has been a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW).

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