Jan-Willem is fascinated by the intricacies of bacterial life and in particular of the pneumococcus. Jan-Willem studied biology at the University of Groningen (the Netherlands) with a focus on genetics, statistics and biotechnology. He became interested in phenotypic variation and with the advents of GFP reporters and improved microscopes it was the right time (2002) to examine bacterial development at the single cell level in a quantitative manner. Using the model organism Bacillus subtilis, Veening examined why some cells form spores and others do not and this so-called phenotypic bistability was the main theme of his PhD dissertation research, under the supervision of Leendert Hamoen and Oscar Kuipers. In 2006 Veening joined the lab of Jeff Errington at the Centre for Bacterial Cell Biology in Newcastle as a postdoctoral fellow (sponsored by a Ramsay Memorial Fellowship and by a Marie-Curie long term fellowship) where he improved his microscopy skills and obtained a passion for bacterial cell biology. In Newcastle, Veening started a collaboration with Waldemar Vollmer and setup the first ever GFP localisation tools for Streptococcus pneumoniae (Eberhardt et al., MolMicro 2009). Jan-Willem likes to use quantitative techniques, combining single cell analysis, omics data and modeling.
Following up on this work, he successfully applied to an Assistant Professor position at the Molecular Genetics Department of the Groningen Biomolecular Sciences and Biotechnology Institute (GBB) in 2009. Veening was promoted to tenured Associate Professor in 2014. In 2016, the lab moved to the University of Lausanne, Switzerland where Veening was appointed Full Professor in the Department of Fundamental Microbiology. The Veening lab keeps on studying the intriguing lifestyle of the pneumococcus and the lab uses systems and synthetic biology approaches to study it's cell biology, the development of antibiotic resistance, and phenotypic variation and its importance for virulence.
Besides science, Veening likes playing (beach)volleyball, skiing, reading, netflixing, wine and spending time with his family.