Eric Altermann is an Adjunct Associate Professor at the School of Veterinary Science at Massey University, Palmerston North. As an independent scientist, he is also Director of Blue Barn Life Sciences Ltd. and Chief Science Officer at PPDx (Oregon, USA). Professor Altermann serves as a Specialty Chief Editor for Frontiers in Microbiology: Microbiotechnology.
In 2009 Assoc Prof Altermann joined the Riddet Institute CoRE as Associate Investigator, analysing the genetic blueprint of intestinal lactobacilli. He is currently involved in the CoRE Platform 2 “Future Foods – Inspired with Nature” where he works closely with Prof Nicole Roy and is also part of the National Science Challenges “High-Value Nutrition” programme.
He received his PhD at the University of Kaiserslautern, Germany in 1999. His main interest at that time was centred on bacteriophage and bacteriophage development programmes in lactobacilli. Between 2000 and 2006 he worked in the group of Prof Todd Klaenhammer at the North Carolina State University (NC, USA) first as a Post Doctoral Fellow and then as a Senior Research Scientist. He was involved in the first Lactobacillus genome sequencing projects including Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM, Lactobacillus gasseri and Lactobacillus johnsonii (in a collaboration with Nestlé). Later on, he was also part of the Lactic Acid Bacteria Genome Consortium (LABGC), the first large scale microbial genome sequencing project conducted by the Joint Genome Institute (CA, USA).
Between 2006 and 2022 he held positions as Senior Research Scientist and Principal Scientist at AgResearch Ltd., New Zealand where he was working on new strategies to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions originating from ruminants. He was Objective leader of the highly successful MBIE Endeavour program “Fermented Foods” (2017-2022), leading the development of the new non-GMO ‘Accelerated Evolution’ technology platform with the aim to improve flavour and texture properties of food starter cultures.
Assoc Prof Altermann has a strong interest in bioinformatics of prokaryotes and is developing software packages for genome annotation and comparative genome analyses, investigating the genetic makeup of bacteria and archaea in methane mitigation, food and nutrition, and other areas.
Assoc Prof Altermann, together with Professor Nigel French, is co-leading the MBIE Endeavour program “Smart Bioplastics” (2022-2026) aiming to develop new compostable and/or edible food packaging materials that extend shelf-life through the application of functionalised bioparticles. The underlying technology platform will be further developed and the commercial application space explored by the Centre for Bioparticle Application hosted by Massey University where Assoc Prof Altermann and Prof French serve as directors.