The world is changing rapidly and science is making progress unlike ever before. As a master of Science in Biochemistry and Biotechnology, I am enthousiastic and motivated to take part in this evolution by focussing on biological research and on the education of the next generations of scientists.
During my forming years, I was able to experience both the workings of the industrial and academic world alike. This led me to my interest in qualitative research both in the lab and on the field for either plant biotechnology and the generation / recuperation of sustainable energy and resources (such as fresh water and biogas).
In addition, I have always had a big interest in general sciences, writing and presenting in public: with the right words and by linking new knowledge to generally known basics, we can inspire both non-scientists and future scientists alike to take part in this ever-changing world!
Scientific Researcher Heverlee, Belgium
October 2013 --- December 2015
The AMPK/SNF1/SnRK1 protein kinases are eukaryotic Ser/Thr protein kinases that control and maintain energy homeostasis upon energy limitation by inhibiting anabolic reactions and stimulating catabolic reactions in animals, fungi and plants respectively. All orthologues typically function in heterotrimeric complexes, with a catalytic α-subunit and regulatory β- and γ-subunits. Even though the modular build-up of these subunits and their general functionality is highly conserved, the different orthologous complexes have adjusted their regulation according to the organisms’ specific way of life.
Plants are sessile and photo-autotrophic organisms and have adjusted themselves accordingly. Arabidopsis thaliana encodes two catalytic SnRK1 subunits (KIN10 and KIN11), two typical regulatory β-subunits (KINβ1 and KINβ2) and multiple γ-like subunits. In addition, there are two specific plant regulatory subunits: a truncated β-subunit (KINβ3) and a hybrid βγ-subunit that functions as the canonical SnRK1 γ-subunit in plants.
During my research, I studied the catalytic subunit and the regulatory β-subunits, through Arabidopsis protoplast isolation and transfection, followed by quantifying target gene expression and protein content. I continued to confirm these results in Arabidopsis seedlings and full-grown (transgenic) plants, through standard phenotypic analyses and plant stress assays (in vitro and in vivo).
Master Thesis Heverlee, Belgium
August 2012 --- June 2013
About 117 million years ago, a whole genome duplication event occurred in the angiosperm lineage, which happens to coincide with the rise and rapid diversification of the core eudicots. An important regulatory gene family in plants that has undergone several duplication events are the MADS-box genes. Previous studies have already elucidated a lot of knowledge on how the family members originated and how they tightly regulate flowering time in angiosperms through the formation of an interaction network. One of the subfamilies of the MADS-box genes is the StMADS11 family to which SHORT VEGETATIVE PHASE (SVP) and AGAMOUS-LIKE 24 (AGL24) belong. Both genes originate from a common ancestor that underwent a duplication event 117 million years ago, but during evolution, they have developed antagonistic functions. Today, SVP acts as a repressor and AGL24 acts as an activator of flowering in Arabidopsis thaliana. It is curious how two genes, that arose from the same ancestral gene acquired opposite functions in evolution.
In this thesis, we approached this question by reconstructing the common ancestor of SVP/AGL24 and the separate ancestors of SVP and AGL24. These ancestors were tested by transformation in Arabidopsis to look for transgenic effects, but also interactions with other ancestral MADS-domain proteins were tested in a yeast two-hybrid analysis, as this regulatory gene family has developed its specificity and efficiency through the development of an interaction network.
From the phylogenetic analysis of the StMADS11 clade, we can deduce that there are three subclades to this gene subfamily. In extension, the ancestral sequence reconstruction taught us that SVP and AGL24 must have undergone separate, specific mutagenesis, which must have led to the functional diversification of both genes. In addition, some interactions with other ancestral proteins seem to have been conserved, and also an interaction was seen between the ancestral SVP protein and extant FLC protein, which leads us to think that the original function of the SVP/AGL24 gene was closer to that of the SVP protein, being a floral repressor.
Intern Wespelaar, Belgium
February 2012 --- July 2012
The goal of the project was to build and follow a pilot set-up waste water purification plant, in order to predict the challenges of a full-scale plant for waste water with a high pH value, high nitrogen values (nitrate and nitrite) and variable conductivity.
The pilot set-up existed out of a denitrification barrel, a nitrification barrel and a sedimentation tub. During the first few weeks I monitored different characteristics within these tubs (such as pH, oxygen, nitrate, nitrite concentrations...), and gave time to the sludge to adjust to the specific waste water.
After both nitrification and denitrification had started, the running of the pilot reactors was followed to get an idea of the maintenance of this kind of purification plant. I continued working after the internship as a jobstudent on this project until the project was cleared for the next phase (the building of and adaptation period of the full-scale purification plant).
AssertivenessAttention to detailCollaborationCoordinationCreative thinkingCritical thinkingCuriosityEfficiencyFlexibilityIndependenceInterest in knowledgeKindnessOptimismOrganizationOrientationPerspectiveResponsibilitySociabilityTrust
Molecular and cellular biology BiochemistryMicrobiologyPlant PhysiologyGene technology BiostatisticsGood laboratory PracticeScience CommunicationBreeding and biotechnologyFood ChemistryBasic principles on oncobiologySpeciationmolecular evolution and phylogeneticsScientific WritingInterest in knowledge
Skills and Expertise
Good Laboratory PracticePlant CultivationProtoplast isolationProtoplast transfectionFlower dip transformationmolecular cloningDNA isolationPlant stress-assays(qRT-)PCRRNA isolationSite-directed mutagenesisWestern blottingYeast two-hybrid assayMS officeCollaborate with project teamExecute scientific projects
Master in Biochemistry and Biotechnology from KULeuven in 2013
Bachelor in Biochemistry and Biotechnology from KULeuven in 2011
Training and Certification
SummerCourse Plant Breeding and Sexual Reproduction in 2014 Training
VIB Specialist Course Genome Engineering and Synthetic Biology in 2013 Training
Master of Science in de Biochemie en biotechnologie in 2013 Certification