My career path
I am both full professor at Ghent University and group leader at the VIB center of Plant Systems Biology in Belgium, combining guidanance of my research group with teaching and organizing of University education. Next to deciphering important scientific questions with my research team, it is my ultimate goal to use teaching to stimulate students into becoming the next generation of scientists that aim to find solutions for nowadays and future problems through applying a combination of fundamental and applied research.
Graduated as a chemist, I started my research career in 1992 at the UGent focusing on the development of new chemical-inducible gene expression systems for plants, but soon I became engaged in trying to understand the molecular control of the cell cycle. Using at that time the novel yeast 2-hybrid approach I was able to identify in the pre-genome era novel important key cell cycle genes and functionally characterized them. At a second stage of my career I started to map the role of these genes in plant developmental and physiological processes, including the control of the endoreplication cycle and the way plants adjust their cell cycle in response to DNA damage-inducing stresses. More recently we identified unique plant cell cycle regulators that are important in the gain of stem cell identity and study how these regulators help plants to regenerate from tissue damage. In parallel, in the frame on an intra-university collaboration we studied the cell cycle of diatoms, being are a major group of microalgae found in the oceans, waterways and soils.
During my late pre-doc and early post-doc career, I briefly spend time is the research facilities of the Imperial Cancer Research Fund in London (Prof P. Nurse) and the INRA Centre Versailles (Prof. D. Bouchez) to study the effect of plant cell cycle gene expression in yeast and to isolate T-DNA insertion mutants in cell cycle genes, respectively.
In 2008, I became professor at the Ghent University in the currently named Department of Plant Biotechnology and Bioinformatics. This department is also embedded in the VIB Center of Plant Systems Biology of the VIB. Since 2002, I am appointed full-time principal investigator of the Cell Cycle group at VIB. In my group, we still study the molecular mechanisms that drive plant regeneration following wounding or DNA damage-inflicted damage, where we expanded our knowledge from the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana to other plant species, including Marchantia polymorpha, maize and poplar.
Office: Technologiepark 71, 9052 Zwijnaarde, Belgium
Office Phone: +32(0)93313961