Lab Members and Alumni

Dirk Inzé

Dirk Inzé is a global leader in plant biology. He is Full Professor at Ghent University (Belgium) and Director of the Department of Plant Systems Biology of the VIB. Under his directorship, the Department of Plant Systems Biology –currently employing 340 persons– became one of the world leading centers for advanced plant sciences. His own research ambition is to decipher the complex molecular networks regulating plant organ growth and crop yield. Dirk’s research was recognized by numerous awards. Dirk owns a prestigious advanced ERC grant and his work received >40.000 citations (H-factor 108).

Hilde Nelissen

Hilde Nelissen

Project Leader

Hilde Nelissen, obtained her Master in Biotechnology (1998) and her PhD in the lab of Mieke Van Lijsebettens at Ghent University (2004), studying Arabidopsis leaf development. After her first post-doc on Arabidopsis (2004-2007), Hilde’s interest shifted towards applied research. Subsequently, when Hilde was appointed as teaching assistant at Ghent University, her research activities (2008-2014) were focused on implementing maize as a crop model in the department. From 2014 onward, Hilde is project leader of the translational research unit within the group of Dirk Inzé at the Flanders Institute for Biotechnology, and Ghent University. The main focus of her research is to understand how maize organs grow under standard and drought conditions, starting from the leaf, that offers an accessible model to study the dynamic changes in the molecular an physiological growth processes. The acquired knowledge from the leaf is translated to other plant organs and is integrated in growth networks together with insights from the model species Arabidopsis. Hilde aspires to apply molecular biology tools in maize and she manages (GM) field trials in Belgium. Since 2012, Hilde is co-lecturer for ‘Plant Research Technologies’ and ‘Plant Yield’ at Ghent University.

Marieke Louwers

Marieke Louwers

Research Manager


Stephen Depuydt

Stephen Depuydt

Postdoctoral fellow

Stephen Depuydt graduated from Ghent University in 2004 as a Bio-Engineer in Cell and Gene Biotechnology. In 2008 he obtained his PhD degree at the faculty of Sciences of Ghent University with a dissertation that dealt with the molecular biology of the Rhodococcus fascians – plant interaction. By means of a Marie Curie Postdoctoral fellowship he next worked at the Department of Molecular Plant Biology of the University of Lausanne (Switzerland), further specializing in developmental plant biology and plant hormone interactions. In 2012 he subsequently re-joined Ghent University/VIB as an FWO (National Research Foundation Flanders) postdoctoral fellow, starting up research towards the mode of action of a novel plant hormone. Since august 2014 he works as a Professor at Ghent University Global Campus in Korea where he heads the lab of Plant Growth Analysis. His current research focuses on how novel and sustainable biostimulantia can improve and influence plant growth and yield, in both rice and Arabidopsis as model species.

Hannes Vanhaeren

Hannes Vanhaeren

Postdoctoral fellow

Hannes obtained his Ph.D in 2015 at the University of Ghent, where he investigated the link between genes than control leaf size in Arabidopsis thaliana. Currently, he works as a post-doctoral researcher to study post-translational regulators that control the transition of cell proliferation to cell expansion during leaf development.

Tom Van Hautegem

Tom Van Hautegem

Postdoctoral fellow

In 2009, Tom Van Hautegem obtained his M.Sc. degree in Biology at Ghent University (Belgium). His master thesis focused on the identification of Medicago truncatula mutants that are defective in nodulation. In December 2014, Tom obtained his PhD at Ghent University at the Department of Plant Systems Biology (PSB) of the VIB in the Programmed Cell Death group headed by Prof. Dr. Moritz Nowack. During his PhD he was dissecting the molecular networks controlling programmed cell death during plant development. Since February 2015, he is working as a postdoctoral researcher in the Systems Biology of Yield group of Dirk Inzé to investigate the link between C4 carbon assimilation and growth in maize leaves.

Stijn Dhondt

Stijn Dhondt

Postdoctoral fellow

Stijn Dhondt obtained the degree of Master in Bioscience Engineering from the Ghent University in 2006. Next, he started as a predoctoral fellow in the research group of “Organ Growth Regulation” headed by Prof. Gerrit Beemster at the VIB department op Plant Systems Biology. He finished his PhD entitled “Imaging as a tool to study leaf development in Arabidopsis thaliana” in 2012. Currently, he is a postdoctoral fellow in the research group “Systems Biology of Yield” headed by Prof. Dirk Inzé. He is involved in the design and establishment of several plant phenotyping platforms in the department, giving support on the design and analysis of phenotyping experiments, and supervising the development of the phenotyping data management software, called PIPPA. His current research project focuses on the identification and mode of action research of plant-growth-enhancing small molecules using an image-based chemical genetics approach.


Stan Van Praet

Stan Van Praet

Predoctoral fellow

Stan Van Praet graduated as Master of Science in Biology, major Functional Biology, in July 2015 at Ghent University. He performed his masters thesis in the group of Prof Sofie Goormachtig. The main focus of the project was to investigate the strigolactone induced flavonol production in Arabidopsis thaliana. In October 2015 he received a BOF PhD scholarship from UGent to screen various algae extracts for their ability to enhance plant growth, with a particular focus on the molecular mechanisms that are in play (promotors: Prof. Stephen Depuydt and Prof. Bartel Vanholme). This project is carried out in the Lab of Plant Growth Analysis of the Ghent University Global Campus (Incheon, Korea) in close collaboration with the Systems Biology of Yield group of PSB.

Ting Li

Ting Li

Perdoctoral fellow

Ting Li obtained her master degree of biology in Shanghai Jiaotong University in 2015. During her master study, she focused on exploring the crosstalk between jasmonic acid and far-red light on the regulation of anthocyanin accumulation. In June 2015, she started her PhD in yield group at PSB. Her project is mainly about the identification of new regulators of leaf growth under mild stress conditions in Arabidopsis.

Lennart Verbraeken

Lennart Verbraeken

Predoctoral fellow

Lennart Verbraeken obtained his master’s degree in Bioscience engineering in 2014 at Ghent University. For his master’s thesis he researched the water and carbon relations in a filling wheat ear using portable NMR technology in cooperation with the Forschungszentrum Jülich in Germany and under supervision of prof.dr.ir. Kathy Steppe, dr. Carel Windt and dr.ir. Veerle De Schepper. He joined PSB in 2015 to start his PhD research on the growth and physiology of maize growing under drought conditions using the Phenovision phenotyping platform.

Jasmien Vercruysse

Jasmien Vercruysse

Predoctoral fellow

Jasmien graduated in 2014 as a Master of Science in bioinformatics after completing her master thesis which focussed on the rewiring of the plant interactome in response to environmental stress. She quickly discovered that the wonderful world of computational science could be complemented by experimental lab work. That is why she joined the Systems Biology of Yield group where she is currently doing a phd in which both computational and experimental approaches harmoniously blend. Her work includes designing and optimizing synthetic promoters that create specific expression profiles in both Arabidopsis and maize.

Alexandra Baekelandt

Alexandra Baekelandt

Predoctoral fellow

Alexandra Baekelandt graduated in 2013 as Master of Science in Biochemistry and Biotechnology at Ghent University, major Plant Biotechnology. She first joined the Systems Biology of Yield group for her master dissertation entitled ‘Meristemoid cell division and leaf growth under standard conditions’, based on understanding how the division of epidermal stem-cell like cells, called meristemoids, influences leaf growth and which molecular players are involved in this process. After that, she got an IWT grant and started in January 2014 a PhD where she mainly continues the research done during his master dissertation.

Michiel Bontinck

Michiel Bontinck

Predoctoral fellow

Michiel graduated as a Master of Science in Biochemistry and Biotechnology at the university of Ghent in 2012. After spending a year working as a consultant in pharmaceutical industry, he started his PhD at PSB in 2013. His work is mainly focused on exploring the dynamics of maize leaf growth regulation. By applying affinity purification techniques, he is trying to map the changes in growth regulatory networks over different leaf development phases.

Stien Mertens

Stien Mertens

Predoctoral fellow

Stien Mertens graduated as Master of Science in Bioscience Engineering: Land and Water Management at Ghent University in 2014. In her master thesis she investigated the effect of climate change induced drought on the hydrology of the Amazon forest by using vegetation models. In February 2015 she started her PhD research in the Systems Biology of Yield group at PSB. During this PhD she will develop imaging proxies for plant physiology-related traits and apply them in maize drought stress experiments on the Phenovision plant phenotyping platform.

Joana Rodrigues

Joana Rodrigues

Predoctoral fellow

Joana graduated as a Master in Molecular Biology and Genetics at the University of Lisbon (Portugal) in 2014. During her master thesis she characterized ribosomal DNA in oats. In 2015 she started her joint PhD, funded by Plants for Life PhD program (FCT-Portugal), between the Genomic of Plant Stress lab – GPlantS – at Instituto de Tecnologia Química e Biológica and the Systems Biology of Yield lab (PSB). Her project will be focused in studying the link between C4 metabolism and growth in maize leaves.

Lisa Van den Broeck

Lisa Van den Broeck

Predoctoral fellow

Lisa Van den Broeck graduated as Master of Science in Biochemistry and Biotechnology at the University of Ghent in 2013. During her master thesis, Lisa focused on a growth-inhibitory transcriptional network, quickly induced upon osmotic stress in Arabidopsis thaliana. In January 2014, she continued this research and started her PhD, funded by IWT in the Systems Biology of Yield group at PSB. During her PhD, the transcriptional connections within this growth-inhibitory network, the dynamical behavior of the network and the molecular link with growth are further being unraveled. Because of the complexity of the network, she also focuses on mapping its dynamics through mathematical modelling. Furthermore she wants to translate the in vitro studies on osmotic stress to the more industrial applicable mild drought stress in soil.

Ying Chen

Ying Chen

Predoctoral fellow

Ying Chen graduated in 2016 as Master of Science in Developmental Biology at the Institute of Botany, the Chinese Academy of Sciences. During her master study, she focused on proline accumulation and transportation under abiotic stress in Arabidopsis. In October 2016, she joined the Yield group at PSB. Her project is mainly about exploring molecular networks regulating the response of Arabidopsis to mild drought stress by using natural accessions.

Ji Li

Ji Li

Predoctoral fellow

Ji Li obtained his Master's degree of agronomy in Sichuan Agricultural University in 2017. During his master period, he focused on genome survey sequencing and heat-resistant genes discovery of an important cool season grass - Dactylis glomerata. In November 2017, he joined the Yield group at VIB-PSB and started his PhD study on another most important monocot - maize. The main aim of his research is combining growth genes to enhance maize yield.


Jolien De Block

Jolien De Block

Lab manager

Jolien De Block graduated in 2008 as a Bachelor in Biomedical Laboratory Technology, specialized in Pharmacy and Biotechnology at the department Vesalius, Hogeschool Gent. First she started working as a lab technician at the PSB Department in the research group of Gerrit Beemster, studying organ growth in maize plants. After the leaving of G. Beemster, the group was moved to Dirk Inze's lab, where maize research could further be continued.

Liesbeth De Milde

Liesbeth De Milde

Lab manager

Liesbeth started to work in the systems biology of yield group in 2008. She has a broad experience in diverse molecular and phenotyping techniques. She provides the required technical knowledge to enable the laboratory to function effectively. She likes to explain or demonstrate experiments, as well as supporting individual Ph.D students on several research projects.

Kirin Demuynck

Kirin Demuynck

Technician

In 2010 Kirin obtained the degree of Professional Bachelor in Biomedical Laboratory Techniques with specialization in Pharmacy and Biotechnology at Vesalius, Hogeschool Gent. In that same year she started her career as a labtechnician in the systems biology of yield group in the Department of Plant Systems Biology. Kirin is specialized in Maize phenotyping and has some experience in field trials.

Mattias Vermeersch

Mattias Vermeersch

Lab manager

Mattias got his degree in 2007 as a master biochemistry. Because he was still craving for knowledge, he got another masters degree in microbiology. He soon realized that microorganisms weren’t his cup of tea and joined the PSB in the Systems Biology of Yield lab where he quickly became the supervisor in the group of the ever so important task: cloning. After a couple of years his interests shifted towards a more people’s approach and started working on the many projects and PhDs going on in the lab. Mattias his helping hands, his knowledge about lab equipment you never heard of, and his great sense of humor are valuable and indispensable in the group.

Rafael Abbeloos

Rafael Abbeloos

Software developer

I obtained a Master in Computer Science in 2007 at the University of Ghent (Belgium). From 2007 to 2012 I worked at ING Life as a web developer on online homebanking applications. In 2012 I joined PSB to develop PIPPA, a web interface which centralizes phenotyping (meta)data and integrates with the various in-house plant phenotyping systems. I also work on the leaf growth viewer project (LGV) which is an online query interface for microarray and transcriptomics data.

Annelore Natran

Annelore Natran

Technician

In 2013, Annelore Natran started her studies at HoGent campus Vesalius. She studied biomedical laboratory technology. In her last year, she did her internship in the Systems Biology of Yield lab, where she also wrote her bachelor's thesis. In 2016, Annelore graduated and she also gained her first work experience in the same lab. She mainly works on phenotypic and genotypic techniques with Arabidopsis but also has some experience with maize plants.