I was born in 1981 in the Bruges, also called 'Venice of the North' as the conserved medieval town contains a maze of winding cobbled alleys and romantic canals (UNESCO world heritage).
While completing my primary and secondary education, I started to develop a passion for biology and technology. Influenced by this, I decided to join the University of Ghent, faculty of Bioscience Engineering (Belgium) for a 5-year course filled with a variety of topics involving engineering skills, biology, IT and biotechnology. During the last year of this programme, I completed a 10-month research project on Nicotiana tabacum lectins and graduated with distinction as MSc. in Bioscience Engineering, speciality cell and gene biotechnology (2004).
Shortly after graduating I was offered a research position at Coventry University (UK) in cooperation with the University of Warwick on the influence of mushroom lectins on colon cancer, an opportunity to get more experience in my field of interest, develop international contacts and discover another country. One year later, I was awarded the title MSc. by Research (2005), with highest marks.
I was then offered a place by the mushroom group at Warwick HRI, a department of the University of Warwick where I had performed most of the research on mushroom lectins and joined the 'mushroom initiation project' as a PhD student.
PhD topic: Expression profiling and functional analysis of genes driving the phanse change in Agaricus bisporus, the edible white mushroom
Department: Warwick HRI
This PhD project combines novel microarray technology with comparative bioinformatics and morphology and is part of a wider DEFRA-funded project (more details). Basically, I will investigate how the mushroom detects and responds to specific environmental changes in order to control its development using a high-tech molecular approach. The image below illustrates the main components of this project, microarrays, mushroom mycelium and fruitbodies.