UGent Promoter and Budget Holder
Godelieve Gheysen is senior full professor at the Faculty of BioScience Engineering at Ghent University, where she heads the Department of Biotechnology and she also is director of International Plant Biotechnology Outreach. She conducted her PhD in Sciences on the analysis of plant transformation by Agrobacterium tumefaciens under supervision of Marc Van Montagu at Ghent University. Her expertise is plant molecular biology and biotechnology, including science communication to the public. Her research focuses on the molecular analysis of interactions between plants and pathogens with a focus on nematodes and the use of molecular breeding and biotechnology to improve plant resistance to biotic stress. G. Gheysen is a member of the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and the Arts (KVAB) and in 2013 she obtained the Prometheus Award for Research from Ghent University. She teaches, amongst other courses, Molecular Biology, Plant Biotechnology and Molecular Aspects of Plant Nematode Relations.
VIB IPBO Co-ordination Support
Dr. Marc Heijde holds a degree in Biosciences engineering (specialization Plant biotechnologies), a master in Plant Cellular and Molecular Biology. He obtained his PhD from the Université Pierre et Marie Curie, France. He worked at the University of Freiburg (Germany) and University of Geneva (Switzerland) as a postdoc before joining the VIB in 2013. He joined the VIB-IPBO team that he now leads since 2015. He has the mandate to develop cooperation between EU based knowledge institutes and African counterparts. He has built a strong experience in the transfer of knowledge and capacity building. Besides, he has acquired strong program coordination skills as program manager of the International Industrial Biotechnology Network, a UNIDO project aiming at sustainable development of the biotechnology related industry. He is currently the coordinator of the EU-Africa LEAP-Agri CLISMABAN project. He is also co-coordinator with Dr Laura Cortada of the Plant B&B network, a network with the ambition to foster the development of new initiatives in breeding and biotechnology at a global level with a focus on the developing world. He has further coordinated the set-up of communication supports and capacity building workshops in Belgium and Africa. He has established an extensive network of actors from the agribusiness sector including policymakers, scientists (public and private sector) and research users in Europe and Africa.
VIB - IPBO Co-ordination Support
Laura Cortada Gonzalez
I am a Senior Scientific Officer at VIB-IPBO and a Visiting Professor at Ghent University for the International MSc in Nematology. I have extensive experience working with smallholders in Africa where she worked with International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (2016-2020) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (2012-2016) and Koppert Biological Systems Ltd (2011-2012). The topic of my research is soil health and plant parasitic nematodes in particular.
VIB - IPBO Administrative Assistant
Vanessa De Bauw
Vanessa De Bauw is the administrative assistant of IPBO and the executive assistant of Em. Prof. Marc Van Montagu. She holds a bachelor in communication management.
Marc Van Montagu
The project Plant B+B not only hits a high score in the strategic plan of IPBO; it is also the realization of a long-cherished dream. I have always advocated for an effective interaction between plant breeding and plant biotechnology. The latter is useless without the former, and the former hopeless without the latter. Only the synergy between plant biotechnology and plant breeding can boost the development of new crops that we urgently need to transform current agricultural systems towards sustainability under a changing soil and weather conditions.
A new model of efficient farming is demanded. We need high productivity - essential to keep pace with the population growth – while taking care of environmental sustainability. Such a sustainable agriculture and horticulture should become accessible to small farmers in developing countries. The present industrial farming should not expand thus a higher yield on the present surface of arable land is imperative. The new agriculture should have positive impacts on nutrition and public health. Until recently breeding new varieties relied on empirical observations and traditional wisdom. Knowledge on the molecular base of plant genetics is very recent. Molecular mechanism controlling plant growth and development, basic physiology, stress resistance and trait inheritance is todays research. We will have to integrate new plant know-how with soil sciences, with special attention to the ecology of the soil organism and their contribution to composting and plant growth stimulation.
New crop varieties should be suited to local conditions, pest- and disease-resistant, and less dependent of chemical inputs and irrigation. On top of that, the process of developing a new cultivar must be drastically shortened to respond to the accelerating environmental changes. Plant science has already demonstrated that it is achievable. I am confident that plant breeding, with the assistance of genetic engineering and new breeding techniques tools, can help us to reverse the catastrophic trend of our present agricultural system.
Solely and in partnership with his colleagues, he has been advising many graduate students in their MSc and PhD thesis research. He has also served in various academic positions including University Registrar and Associate Dean of Research and Technology Transfer for the College of Natural Sciences, AAU. His current research is the area of agricultural biotechnology, specifically, abiotic and biotic stress tolerance of crops such as millet, chickpea and wheat through molecular techniques to enhance productivity and improve the livelihood of small holder farmers. Currently, he is serving as member of Biosafety Technical Advisory Committee for the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MEFCC). He is also involved in research activities on the interphase between science and policy, particularly bio-resources innovation policies.
PhD: 2008 – Kenyatta University Sandwich with the University of California, DavisMSc: 2003 – Kenyatta UniversityBSc 1998 – Kenyatta University Steven Runo is an Associate Professor of Molecular Biology at Kenyatta University in the Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology and Biotechnology. He is a recipient of Royal Society Africa Prize 2020.Runo has had a long-standing research in parasitic plant biology. His initial work involved using genetic engineering for crop improvement. Steven started experiments in sorghum and maize genetic transformation at Kenyatta University. He developed a high throughput maize transformation system based on transgenic hairy roots. He has continued to improve the genetic transformation technologies as well as the Striga resistance studies.Currently, his research group uses genomics, bioinformatics and RNA sequencing to identify sources of Striga resistance from cereals. His other research is on using genone-editing for Striga resistance and a tool for functional genomics in Striga-sorghum interactions.
Steven Maere obtained MA degrees in engineering physics and biotechnology at Ghent University, Belgium, and obtained his PhD in computational biology there in 2006. After a postdoc in Yves Van de Peer’s lab in Ghent and a visiting postdoc stay in Mike Eisen’s lab at UC Berkeley, he moved back to Ghent in 2009 to start his own group at VIB. His primary research interest is to apply mathematical modeling approaches to interesting problems in systems biology and evolution.
Stephen Depuydt (°28 november 1981) graduated from Ghent University in 2004 as a Bio-Engineer (Cell and genebiotechnology) magna cum laude. After completion of his studies, he started his PhD studies at the faculty of Sciences of UGhent and the VIB in the field of Plant Biotechnology. In November 2008 he obtained his PhD degree under supervision of Prof. Holsters and dr. Vereecke with a dissertation that dealt with the molecular biology of the Rhodococcus fascians – plant interaction. After this, he moved on (as a Marie Curie Postdoctoral fellow) to the département de biologie moléculaire végétale of Prof. Hardtke at the university of Lausanne, further specializing in developmental plant biology and plant hormone interactions. In 2012 he subsequently rejoined UGent as an FWO postdoc in the group of Prof. Goormachtig, starting up research towards mode of action of a novel plant hormone. Since august 2014 he works as a Professor at Ghent University and Ghent University Global Campus where he heads the lab of Plant Growth Analysis. He teaches several courses in plant and molecular biology and plant physiology. Since 2018 he is appointed as director of Education for the Ghent University Global Campus. For his PhD studies and postdoctoral research stays he obtained several grants, a.o. a prestigious Marie-Curie Outgoing International Postdoctoral Fellowship, an EMBO short term fellowship and an FWO (National Research Foundation Flanders) postdoctoral fellowship. He is (co-)author of several publications in high-impact journal and relevant books and has presented his research on both national and international important conferences, for one of which he was awarded a prize as presenting author.
Shiv Kumar Agrawal
Shiv holds PhD in Plant Breeding and his area of expertise includes crop improvement through resistance breeding, widening the genetic base through pre-breeding, and development of genetic and genomic resources in food legumes. His contribution in identifying donors for new plant type in rice, extra early genotypes in chickpea, lentil, grass pea and mung bean, basic information on genetics of important traits, and pre-breeding populations in Vigna, Lens and Lathyrus species, are noteworthy. He in collaboration with national partners has contributed in the development of 41 lentil, 5 mung bean, 2 urdbean, 1 rice, and 3 grass pea varieties and published 196 peer-reviewed journal articles, 72 book chapters, 10 books, 7 technical bulletins, and 2 training manuals. He has received many academic distinctions, fellowships including Rockefeller, and awards from national and international organizations/societies in recognition of his contribution in food legumes. Presently, Dr. Kumar is leading ICARDA’s Food legumes program which aims to deliver improved germplasm of lentil, kabuli chickpea, faba bean and grass pea to national partners in South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, West Asia, and North Africa. He works on developing short duration climate smart varieties of lentil and grass pea with high iron and zinc content for sustainable intensification of cereal based cropping systems.
Sarah Van Leuven
Sarah Van Leuven is associate professor in journalism studies at Ghent University, Department of Communication Sciences, head of the Center for Journalism Studies (CJS), and a member of imec-mict-UGent. She has published work on a broad range of topics including the role of news media in political communication (public sphere), news sources, health news, international news, content and frame analysis, journalist surveys, and innovation in newsrooms. She is also a member of the editorial board of Digital Journalism.
Sarah serves as Director of the Cornell Alliance for Science—a global communications effort that promotes evidence-informed decision-making in agriculture. She teaches courses on agricultural biotechnology at the graduate and undergraduate level and is part of an interdisciplinary team that developed a massive open online course (MOOC) on the science and politics of GMOs on Cornell’s EdX platform. Sarah holds a joint appointment in Global Development and the Section of Plant Breeding & Genetics in the School of Integrative Plant Sciences at Cornell. Sarah received her PhD in Plant Biology from Cornell University in 2009, for which she conducted an interdisciplinary study combining work in plant molecular biology with science communication. She came to Cornell after completing a BA in Biology at Reed College.
Dr. Robooni Tumuhimbise is currently a Director of Research at the National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO), Rwebitaba Zonal Agricultural Research and Development Institute, Uganda. He is a result -oriented Crop Scientist with 15 years’ experience in agricultural research and development, working on RTB crops, especially cassava, cocoyam and banana, and tea. After completing his PhD in Plant Breeding from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, where his research was on cassava breeding for early storage root yield and resistance to viral diseases, he joined the National Banana Program of NARO, Uganda as a banana Breeder. As a banana Breeder, he successfully led a research team of over 100 people that released five superior cooking banana varieties currently being promoted in East Africa. He has co-supervised over 15 postgraduate students and published over 40 articles in peer-reviewed journals.
Plant Breeding and Biotechnology. Main personal research emphasis is on potato tuberisation and genomics and on using genetics and genomics to address biological questions in crop plants which should lead to high yielding crops with excellent quality to be able to be produced in all kinds of environments in a sustainable fashion. Developmental biology of crop plants, genetics of combinatory stresses, genomics of crop plants, polyploid genetics, complex trait genetics, computer assisted breeding.
Pooja Bhatnagar-Mathur holds a Ph.D. in Biotechnology and leads the Research Theme on Cell,Molecular biology and Genetic engineering at ICRISAT. She has over 15 years of experience indeveloping tools towards candidate gene discovery and validations, genetic and genome engineering as well as translational research activities in grain legumes and dry land cereals of SAT. Her team combines multiple platforms to develop and test new research interventions specifically targeting constraints for which no genetic traits are available in conventional plant breeding applications. Combining forward and reverse biological engineering tools and technologies and more recently integrate cutting edge CRISPR-Cas based gene editing technologies, strong global collaborations backing efforts on deploying for trait and genome engineering in grain legumes, sorghum and millets. Pooja has to her credit, several advanced certifications on several components of Intellectual property management for commercialization of biotech products. She has published over 100 research communications in various international peer reviewed journals and books besides several popular articles in various newsletters.
Peter Goethals is professor in applied water ecology and sustainable water management at the Ghent University in Belgium. He started his research in 1996 at the Ghent University, mainly focusing on consultancy for the government. In 2005 he obtained his PhD on the integration of informatics in ecological river management, and he became professor in 2007. He combines fundamental and applied research, with a focus on innovation of monitoring, assessment and modelling methods to support decision-making in water management. In addition to his lab and field research in Belgium and Europe, he has a long-standing cooperation with universities and governments in Latin-America, Africa and Asia, in particular related to the sustainability analysis of surface waters and river basins. He is director of the CeSAM-platform at UGent to support cooperation with institutions in Latin-America. He serves in editorial boards of Ecological Informatics (Elsevier), Environmental Science and Policy (Elsevier) and Sustainability (MDPI).
The Lab of Aquaculture & Artemia reference Center has a long tradition in larviculture of commercially important aquatic organisms. The lab was a pioneer in developing Artemia into an efficient first feed in larviculture. Since 2000 an additional scientific focus has been introduced in the lab. In larviculture of aquatic organisms detrimental host microbial interaction are common and are responsible for large economic losses. The research has been focusing on the development of methods that could steer the microbial community composition and activity without making use of antibiotics. This has resulted in more than 190 international publications since 2002. At the personal level Peter Bossier has experience in research in microbial ecology, yeast molecular genetics and host microbial interaction in aquatic larviculture. The research on host microbial interactions has been based on the development of gnotobiotic models. In the last 15 years, gnotobiotic models for Artemia, sea bass and tilapia have been developed. The 15 years of experience with the gnotobiotic Artemia model, called GART, will be essential to this project. This approach has proven to be extremely useful to avoid experimental interference of the standing microbial community and has facilitated the unequivocal interpretation of results of experiments in host microbial interaction
Founded in 1974 with only 374 students, Joseph KI-ZERBO University (former university of Ouagadougou) has experienced rapid qualitative development. It is cited among the successful and stable universities of the West African sub-region as a fine example of successful mixing between students from various backgrounds. Joseph KI-ZERBO University, which has always been a successful example of mixing peoples and strong in the support of the entire university community, will continue to serve as a pole of excellence with the conviction of serving Burkina Faso and all the sub -region, combining fundamental education, professional training and research
Morag Ferguson obtained her MSc. and PhD. degrees from the University of Birmingham, UK, in Conservation Genetics, and worked with ICARDA, ICRISAT and IITA within the CGIAR system. For the past 18 years she has worked with IITA as a germplasm scientist and molecular breeder, based in Nairobi. Morag’s research is focused on cassava, particularly molecular breeding for cassava brown streak disease and cassava mosaic disease, as well as drought tolerance. She is particularly interested in genetic resources and gender responsive breeding, and dissemination of improved varieties through commercial seed systems. She has supervised 13 PhD students mostly from East Africa, and the same number of MSc students. She has published 43 peer-reviewed journal articles and is former co-ordinator of a BMGF project.
Dr. Margaret Karembu is the Director of ISAAA-AfriCenter and holds a PhD degree in Environmental Science Education from Kenyatta University, Kenya. A science-communication trainer, Margaret has actively been involved in strengthening capacity for science communications and policy outreach for informed choices on modern biosciences in Africa. She has significantly contributed to the biotechnology discourse through representation of Africa’s biotechnology agenda in many international fora including the Convention on Biological Diversity’s Biosafety Protocol – COP-MOP negotiations (2010-2018).She is also Principal convener – Africa Biennial Biosciences Communication symposium (ABBCsymposium); Editor in chief of DrumBeat, a monthly e-newsletter on Africa Bioscience Trends; Founding chair of the African Women for Biosciences, the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology in Africa (OFAB – Kenya chapter) and Africa Association for the Advancement of Synthetic Biology (AAASynBio). These platforms provide stakeholders an opportunity to share experiences on modern biosciences and policy implications of emerging bioscience trends. She has received Kenyan President’s appointment as Council chair and vice-chair of the Cooperative University of Kenya and Meru University of Science and Technology respectively. She has over 20 years of research, training and mentorship in science, technology and innovation.
The position of Director of the Biodiversity and Crop Improvement Program, ICARDA encompasses coordination of about 25 international scientists working on highly diverse topics (barley, durum and bread wheat, chickpea, lentil, faba bean breeding, genetic resources, cereal and legume pathology, IPM, virology, biotechnology, international nurseries, seed health, cereal and legume quality and since 2016 additionally the new expanding interdisciplinary branch of effective and sustainable use of pollinators), and 67 technical staff (research associates, assistants, technician).
Leena Tripathi is a Plant Biotechnologist with over 21 years of experience in genetic improvement of important staple food crops for control of diseases and pests. After obtaining Ph.D. in Plant Molecular Biology, she began her career as a Research Scientist at the University of North Carolina, USA. Dr. Tripathi is currently a Deputy Regional Director and Principal Scientist leading the transgenic and genome editing research at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA)-Kenya. Her team has successfully established a robust genetic transformation platform for banana at IITA to develop genetically modified and genome-edited products and to transfer these technologies to national agricultural research systems in Africa and beyond. The research outputs of her group have been published in over 95 articles in internationally reputed journals and book chapters. Her research has been featured in more than 200 national and international news articles and documentary films.
Marc is the global leader for the “Game-changing Solutions” research program at the International Potato Center (CIP). He has a PhD in gene and cell biotechnology from the Free University of Brussels and has spent his most of his career at CIP since 1993. His research interests cover genetic diversity of potato and sweetpotato germplasm, genetic mapping of traits of interest, marker-assisted selection, genomics-assisted breeding, and transgenesis. He is the author of more than sixty scientific publications. He is currently leading CIP efforts to release a transgenic potato completely resistant to late blight in sub-Saharan African countries.
Kevin Pixley is a graduate of Purdue University, the University of Florida (MSc crop physiology) and Iowa State University (PhD plant breeding). Kevin joined the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in 1990 and worked as a maize breeder in Eastern and Southern Africa for 11 years before serving in directing positions in the Global Maize Program and currently the Genetic Resources Program. He co-leads projects on maize and wheat improvement (Accelerating Genetic Gains in Maize and Wheat for Improved Livelihoods, AGG) and gene editing in maize for tolerance to maize lethal necrosis disease. Kevin served on the authorship committee of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s 2016 report Genetically Engineered Crops: Experiences and Prospects. His research interests include ensuring access to the potential benefits of genetic engineering technologies by resource-poor farmers and consumers.
Dr. Karim Maredia is a Professor and Senior Global Scholar in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) at Michigan State University (MSU). He serves as the Director of the CANR International Programs and Director of World Technology Access (WorldTAP) Program. Dr. Maredia has worked in numerous international development projects funded by the USAID, USDA, UN-FAO, the World Bank, Rockefeller Foundation, Winrock International, and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Prior to joining MSU in 1989, Dr. Maredia worked with the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in Mexico as a Research Scientist for three years. Dr. Maredia has extensively traveled to more than 60 countries around the world and has disseminated knowledge, information and new technologies widely to the global agricultural development community. He has published more than 50 papers, book chapters and co-edited five books. Since 2017, Dr. Maredia has been serving as a Member of the African Union (AU) High Level Panel on Emerging Technologies.
Research Group Website:https://www.canr.msu.edu/worldtap/
Dr. Kan Wang is a Global Professor of Biotechnology in Department of Agronomy and Co-Director of the Crop Bioengineering Center at Iowa State University, USA. She graduated with her BS in Biochemistry from Fudan University, Shanghai, China. She conducted her PhD study in Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium, under the supervision of Drs. Marc Van Montagu (2013 World Food Prize Laureate) and late Jeff Schell, who led the first group that discovered and engineered Agrobacterium tumefaciens for plant genetic transformation. Dr. Wang spent 7 years in ICI seeds (now Syngenta) as a project leader in genetic transformation of corn and soybean. In 1996, she took a position at Iowa State University and established the first public crop transformation facility.
Research Group Website:https://www.cropbioengineering.iastate.edu/
Johan Braeckman studied Philosophy, Human Ecology and Environmental History at the universities of Ghent, Brussels and Santa Barbara, California. He wrote a PhD on the philosophical aspects of Darwin’s evolutionary theory. At Ghent University (Belgium), he teaches courses on the history of philosophy and the history of science. Formerly, he taught courses on philosophical anthropology and bio-ethics at Ghent University (Belgium) and the University of Amsterdam (the Netherlands). So far, he (co-)supervised seventeen PhD students (on moral philosophy, history of science, the study of pseudoscience and irrationalism). He published books, articles and audio lectures on Darwin; on cultural aspects of the natural sciences; on critical thinking and on the history of philosophy. He is an active member of the Belgian Skeptical movement and regularly gives lectures on a variety of topics.
Johnnie van den Berg
I manage the IPM-program in the Unit for Environmental Sciences and Management at NWU. Research in this Program focusses on Nematology and Entomology. I do applied ecological research on biodiversity and management of Arthropoda in agro-ecosystems. This includes the study of insect-plant interactions in cropping systems as well as studies of pollinators. I have supervised more than 100 masters and PhD students both inside and outside of South Africa and published about 200 peer reviewed scientific papers.
Dr. Jianbing Yan, a professor of maize genomics and genetics in Huazhong Agricultural University (HZAU). He got the Ph.D. from HZAU in 2003, before joining China Agricultural University (CAU) as an assistant professor and being promoted as an associated professor in 2005. From 2006 to 2011, He worked in CIMMYT and Cornel University for the research on maize genetics and molecular breeding. He joined HZAU as the full professor since 2011 and his interest majorly focusing on maize genetics, genomics and big data driven breeding.
Research Group Website:http://www.maizego.org/
Hoo Sun Chung
Hoo Sun Chung received her BSc. in Biology and Chemistry at Yonsei University in South Korea and further received her MSc. In Plant Molecular Biology at the same institute. During her early education in Yonsei University, the good will of science exemplified in “golden rice” triggered her passion and dedication in plant research. Then, she moved to Michigan State University in USA for her PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and studied plant hormone Jasmonate signaling in plant defense responses under mentoring of Prof. Gregg Howe. She graduated as a Hans Kende awardee for the best dissertation in whole plant science field in Michigan State University. She joined Prof. Jen Sheen’s lab at Harvard Medical School to further dissect plant signaling mechanisms involving MAPK cascade. Since 2020, as an assistant professor in Ghent University Global Campus, she is leading a plant biotechnology research center and establishing her research to continue to make exciting discoveries in plant signaling for their amazing resilience.
My research career has focused on the central biological question: How do growth processes determine final plant organ size? Initially, I approached this using molecular biology studying Arabidopsis leaf development. As my interest shifted towards applied research, I redirected my focus to maize. What started as translational research to bring knowledge from Arabidopsis to crops and from the lab to the field, gradually developed into a research line with the goal to decipher the instructor networks that govern leaf size, organ growth and ultimately yield in maize. Because plant organ size control is an important yield component that is also severely impacted by climate change, our ultimate goal is to deepen our understanding of the growth-regulatory networks to enhance our success rate to achieve climate-resilient crops.
Research Group Website:https://www.psb.ugent.be/people/NelissenHilde
Prof. Vanderschuren started his academic career as group leader in crop biotechnology at ETH Zurich and he has been appointed Professor of Plant Genetics at University of Liège (Belgium) in 2014 and Professor of Tropical Horticulture at KU Leuven in 2019. Over the last 15 years, his research activities have been focused on the study of crop responses to biotic and abiotic stresses as well as on the implementation of tools to select and develop tropical and temperate crops (i.e. cassava, banana, rice, potato, wheat, chicory) with improved traits. Several cassava and rice accessions with increased disease resistance, improved nutritional quality and prolonged shelf life traits have been developed by his team. He has collaborated with several national and international research institutions in developing and emerging countries through joint research programmes. Prof. Vanderschuren’s team is also actively involved in technology transfer to laboratories in Africa, Asia and South America.
Research Group Website:http://www.gembloux.ulg.ac.be/plant-genetics/
Research Group Website:https://www.biw.kuleuven.be/biosyst/plantenbiotechniek/tropical
Geert Haesaert is full professor at the faculty of Bioscience Engineering of Ghent University. He is an agronomist and plant breeder involved in more than 40 national and international research projects. His research focus on sustainable crop production, –protection and plant breeding in moderate as well as in tropical agro-ecological zones. His research in the field of breeding is focused on triticale and malting barley. He is recognised internationally as a leading expert in triticale breeding for which he has managed a dedicated breeding program for many years. Geert Haesaert is co-founder of the MYTOX research platform (www.mytox.be), the consortium CropFit (www.cropfit.be) and the of the Ghent University spin-off company Progeno that gives data-driven breeding advice to plant breeders companies. Progeno is the results of a long-term scientific symbiosis between the department plants and crops and the department of data analysis and mathematical modelling.
Emmanuel, a Technical Specialist for Development and Partnership at RUFORUM coordinates development of projects and management of partnerships at RUFORUM. Currently, he is the RUFORUM contact for the European Commission funded project Long the Long-term Europe-Africa Research and Innovation Partnership for Food and Nutrition Security and Sustainable Agriculture (LEAP4FNSSA) and manages partnerships for the project – Transforming African agricultural universities to meaningfully contribute to development funded by the Mastercard Foundation. He coordinated at RUFORUM the project – Platform for African and European Partnerships for Agricultural Research for Development (PAEPARD) other four projects. His experience is in assessment of agricultural ecosystems and research for development partnerships coordination of seven years at RUFORUM and International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA). He is a PhD fellow in Agriculture and Rural Innovations at Makerere University, Uganda.
Dominique Van Der Straeten
Dominique is a senior full professor at Ghent University –teaching 5 courses- and Research Director of the Laboratory of Functional Plant Biology. With a fellowship of the British Council, she conducted pre-doctoral research at the University of Reading (UK), under supervision of Prof. J.B. Harborne. She was awarded an FWO PhD fellowship to conduct part of her doctoral thesis work on ethylene biosynthesis in plants at Harvard University under the guidance of Prof. H.M. Goodman, continued in Ghent with Prof. M. Van Montagu. Shortly before earning her PhD degree, she initiated research on remote imaging of plant stress. In this context, she performed a short post-doctoral stay at the University of Utrecht (NL), with Prof. H. Lambers. Last but not least, while being a fundamental scientist at heart, she initiated research on biofortification of crop plants, driven by the aspiration to contribute more directly to society.
Dr Dejene Girma is a researcher at the National Agricultural Biotechnology Research Center, Ethiopia. He holds a master’s degree in Molecular Biotechnology and Postgraduate Diploma in Biosafety in Molecular Plant Biotechnology from Gent University, Belgium. He did his graduate research at the University of Bern, Switzerland and received his Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolution in 2016.
Danny Geelen received a Bachelor degree at University Hasselt and master in Plant Biotechnology at Ghent University in 1988. He obtained a PhD degree in 1995 at the Faculty of Sciences at Ghent University. Supported by a personal Marie-Curie fellowship he conducted post doctoral research from 1995 to 1997 at the CNRS, Institut des Sciences Vegetales, Gif-Sur-Yvette, France on plant anion channels. Next he was a post doc at the Imperial College London in the UK from 1997 to the end of 1999 working on abscisic acid signaling and regulation of stomata conductance. In 2000 he returned to Belgium where he was appointed Principal Investigator at the VIB/UGent department Plant Systems Biology. Currenly he is professor at the faculty of Bioscience Engineering Ghent University.
Professor Cathie Martin, FRS, John Innes Centre, Norwich Research Park, Norwich NR4 7UH, United Kingdom.Cathie is a group leader at the John Innes Centre and Professor at the University of East Anglia. Her interests span from fundamental to applied plant science. She researches into the relationship between diet and health and how crops can be fortified with polyphenols to improve diets and address the global challenge of escalating chronic disease. Cathie is also involved in genetic screens to identify crops which lack toxins that cause nutritional diseases and has recently initiated a collaborative project with China to research on flavonoid bioactives in Chinese Medicinal Plants.
Barbara Mugwanya Zawedde
Barbara is the Director of Research in the Uganda’s National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO) based in the Mukono Research Institute that serves the Central region with over 10 million people. She is also the Chairperon for NARO’s Institutional Biosafety Committee, and the Committee responsible for developing and implementing biodiversity conservation and sustainable use by NARO. Her PhD major was Plant Breeding, Genetics and Biotechnology with a doctoral specialization in Environmental Science and Policy from Michigan State University, USA. For seven (7) years, Barbara coordinated activities of Uganda Biosciences Information Center (UBIC). Prior to her PhD training, she was a Programme Officer in the Kampala Office for the Program for Biosafety Systems, a Program for the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). Her areas of interest include biosafety, biopolicy, bioethics, science communication, knowledge management, and other social and policy pathways to support adoption and sustainable use of biosciences for agriculture transformation.
Annelies Verdoolaege is the coordinator of the Africa Platform of Ghent University Association (www.africaplatform.ugent.be). This Platform unites all Africa-related expertise at Ghent University Association, and facilitates academic collaboration between Ghent University and African partners. The Africa Platform publishes the peer-reviewed and open access journal Afrika Focus (www.ojs.ugent.be/AF), it organizes academic symposiums and networking events for companies interested to invest in Africa. Annelies Verdoolaege holds MA degrees in Languages & Literatures (1997, Ghent University) and African Studies (2000, Ghent University), and a PhD in African Languages and Cultures (2005, Ghent University). She has spent significant parts of her graduate training at the University of Cape Town (South Africa) and SUNY Albany (USA).
An Cliquet is a professor of international environmental and biodiversity law at Ghent University. Her research is situated in the field of international and European biodiversity law. The research encompasses both marine and terrestrial biodiversity law. She has been conducting research or is supervising research on themes like ecological restoration; climate change and nature conservation; ecological refugees; gender and biodiversity; protection of ecosystem services; a rights-based approach to conservation; the protection of the Congo basin; health and biodiversity; wildlife trade; the legal protection of urban biodiversity; the protection of transboundary watercourses under biodiversity law; access and benefit sharing of genetic resources; the protection of the environment during armed conflict; ecological restoration in China. An Cliquet is teaching courses on international and European environmental and biodiversity law, law and ethics on marine nature conservation, international law and sustainability, as well as some courses on public international law in general.
Hans De Steur
Prof. dr. Hans De Steur is professor in quantitative research methods in socio-economics at the Division of Agri-food Marketing & Chain Management, Department of Agricultural Economics, Ghent University. He holds a master degree in Sociology as well as in Economics and Business Administration (both at Ghent University). In 2011, he successfully finished his PhD in Applied Biological Sciences, which focused on the market potential of transgenic biofortification. His current research is situated in the field of agri-food marketing and agricultural economics, with a focus on consumer, stakeholder and impact analysis of innovations and technologies. His multidisciplinary research approach entails both experimental and secondary data-analysis. He was and is involved in various research projects on the socio-economics of GM (biofortified) foods, with various publications in top-tier journals in different research domains, reflecting his interest in cross-cutting issues and multidisciplinary collaboration.
Dulce Eleonora de Oliveira
Prof. Dr. Dulce Eleonora de Oliveira holds a M.Sc. and a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) and was a postdoctoral research fellow at the Laboratory of Genetics, Ghent University, in the field of Plant Molecular Biology. She was professor and head of the Laboratory of Plant Molecular Genetics at the Institute of Biology, UFRJ, Brazil, where she led several research projects in the field of fundamental and applied plant molecular biology, particularly: Plant flower development; Plant-pathogen interaction; Abiotic stress in plants; Development of virus resistance in transgenic plants; Genetic biodiversity of Brazilian indigenous trees; Transformation of Brazilian orphan corps.
She is guest professor at IPBO since its foundation, where she has been involved in technology transfer, training and education in scientific and biosafety issues, and in raising awareness on the potential of plant biotechnology for developing countries. Currently she supports Marc Van Montagu with his activities related to the strategic plant of IPBO.