Prof. dr. Timothy Pennycook

Seeing how atoms build materials

Our world is composed of atoms and their arrangement determines the properties of all the materials we use and interact with. Determining the atomic scale structure and composition of materials is vital to understanding them fundamentally. Electron optics has advanced to the point that all major interatomic spacings can be resolved with the electron microscope. However, peering into the atomic structure of materials can still be a challenge. In this talk I will discuss the power, challenges and outlook for the future of using electrons for atomic scale vision

Dr. Sébastjen Schoenaers

Rapid signaling in plants: controlling cell wall flexibility during growth

Contrary to their initial appearance, plants are some of the fastest growing organisms on the planet. Plants rapidly sense changes in their environment and optimize their growth accordingly. Using state-of-the-art techniques, we can now study this ‘rapid plant signaling’ at unprecedented resolution. In this talk, we will highlight the dynamic nature by which plants control their growth, and how this knowledge is fundamentally changing the way we look at plant growth in a changing environment.

Prof. dr. Patrice Perreault

Model-based design of intensified chemical reactors for hydrogen release for ship applications

Maritime transport is responsible for 3% of the global CO2 emissions: hydrogen-powered ships is a sustainable solution. However, H2 storage represents a challenge, and Liquid Organic Hydrogen Carriers (LOHC) are regarded as an alternative to compressed and liquid storage. The design of H2 release systems from LOHC is far from trivial and process intensification provides the most interesting approach. In this presentation, we will explore a CFD-based approach for the design of chemical reactors for multiphase turbulent flows.

Dr. Sam Van der Jeught

The fascinating physics of the eardrum: from the lab to the hospital

The 3D shape of the human eardrum plays a crucial role in the process of sound transmission and any structural change to its topography is an important indicator for existing or impending middle ear pathology and subsequent hearing loss. The 3D tympanoscope is a new medical device, capable of measuring high-resolution eardrum deformation in 3D and in real-time. In addition to weak spot detection, tympano-topography can be employed in the ENT-office as a non-invasive indicator for inadequate Eustachian tube (ET) functioning.

Prof. dr. José Oramas Mogrovejo

Towards intelligible artificial intelligence

Representations learned via deep neural networks (DNNs) have achieved impressive results for several automatic tasks (image recognition, text translation, super-resolution, etc.). This has motivated the wide adoption of DNN-based methods, despite their black-box characteristics. In this talk, I will cover several efforts aiming at designing algorithms capable of revealing what type of information is encoded in a learned representation (model interpretation) and justifying the predictions made by a DNN (model explanation).

Dr. Pieter Mampuys

So you think ... you can be green? A chemist's view on sustainability

Over the last decade pressure on the pharmaceutical industry to change their practices and develop more environmentally friendly and sustainable technologies has drastically increased as the synthesis of fine chemicals typically involves a large amount of waste produced per kg of active ingredient. This therefore brings challenges, but also generates opportunities for chemists and engineers! In this lecture, the importance of green chemistry research and non-self-evident character of determining the greenness of a chemical transformation will be discussed.

Dr. Marc Spiller

Environmental impact of microbial protein from potato wastewater as feed ingredient

Livestock production is utilizing large amounts of protein-rich feed ingredients such as soybean meal. One alternative for soybean meal is Microbial Protein (MP), i.e. dried microbial biomass. The objective of this study is to evaluate the environmental impact of MP production. Three different types of MP production were analysed and compared to soybean meal. Soybean meal showed up to 52% higher impact on human health and up to 87% higher impact on ecosystems. However, MP production resulted in an 8 to 88% higher resource exploitation than soybean meal.

Prof. dr. Bert De Munck

History of science: the crafts and the scientific revolution of the 16-17th century

Western culture is deeply entrenched by the idea that scientific and technological innovation necessarily start with a concept in the human mind, which explains why the scientific revolution has mostly been written as a history of new ideas emerging in the mind of ingenious scientists. The last few decades, this narrative is increasingly criticized, up to the point that a great deal of importance is now attached to the hands-on skills of artisans. Sixteenth- and seventeenth-century artisans would have contributed to the shift from natural philosophy to experimental sciences because of their daily trail-and-error experimentation with matter (raw materials), which would have fostered new understandings about nature and new views on the materiality of the universe. These views lead to new questions about the epistemological origins of our present-day natural sciences.  

Sarah Ahannach, Prof. dr. Katrien Kolenberg, Dr. Ben Van Duppen

History of science: science in the Arabic world

During the dark ages of medieval Europe, the legendary “Golden Age” of Arabic science brought historical scientific and intellectual contributions to civilization. The tributes to the Arab world’s era of scientific achievement, roughly spanning the eighth through the thirteenth centuries, are often forgotten. Nonetheless, these intellectual advancements have had an immense impact on today’s science, culture and technology. This articulates brilliantly into the fact that science is not only universal but a common language of the human race. Therefore, a more representative scientific workforce in a diverse and inclusive environment draws from the widest range of perspectives and experiences. This is necessary to maximize innovation and creativity in science for the benefit of humanity. Diversity is essential to delivering excellence in STEM. 

Abstracts 2019

Prof. dr. Jan De Beenhouwer


Tomography from limited data

Professor Jan De Beenhouwer and his team are specialised in tomography, a technique that allows you to look inside objects without actually opening them. In many circumstances however, the measured data is not sufficient to accurately reconstruct a 3D image of the object. To solve these types of problems, they are developing techniques that exploit prior knowledge of the object and the imaging system in the form of parametric models. Read more about their research on the website of research group Visionlab.


Prof. dr. Jeroen Famaey


Low-Power Wireless Networks

Professor Jeroen Famaey and his team design low-power wireless network protocols, to allow communication over the Internet with anything, at any time, and anywhere. By creating such energy-efficient network protocols, devices can last longer on a single battery charge, or even live without batteries by harvesting small amounts of energy from the environment. This will enable a more sustainable, environmentally-friendly, and cost-effective Internet of Things. More information can be found on the IDLab research group website.


Prof. dr. Guillermo A. Perez


Automatic Verification of Hardware and Software Systems

Hardware and software systems are hard to design and implement correctly. Professor Guillermo Perez studies formal logics that can be used to precisely specify what such systems are intended to do, and formal models like automata and games to abstract their behaviour. With his co-authors, they use these mathematical tools to develop algorithms that enable the verification of systems against their specifications.


Prof. dr. Hannes Svardal


What genome sequences can tell us about evolution

Professor Hannes Svardal and his group are interested in how the astonishing natural diversity we see on earth came into being, by which forces it formed, and how it is changing today. Genome sequences provide a record of the evolutionary past of organisms and of their adaptations. The Svardal lab uses statistical genomics and experiments to understand how organisms adapt to their environment. For example, they are currently trying to understand how fishes rapidly adapt to fishing pressure.


Dr. Wiebke Albrecht


Heat-induced transformations of nanoparticles studied in situ in 3D using electron tomography

Nanoparticles are in a regime between the atomic and macroscopic scale and exhibit peculiar properties in between both worlds. A full 3D morphological and compositional characterization of nanoparticles is a necessity of understanding their properties-structure relationship. A powerful way of studying processes at the nanoscale are in situ measurements allowing, for example, to follow heat-induced morphological and compositional changes in time. In this talk, we present how such transformations of metal nanoparticles can be followed in 3D using electron tomography. 


Dr. Wenke Smets


Colonization of bacterial leaf communities

The surface of plant leaves, also termed the phyllosphere, is a unique habitat for microbes. The bacterial communities of the phyllosphere are distinct from communities in other habitats, yet they show a great diversity. Despite previous claims about the phyllosphere communities being excellent models to study microbial ecology, time experiments to assess natural phyllosphere dynamics through e.g. sequencing are lacking. We investigated the effect of an urban environment and air pollution on the dynamics of phyllosphere communities. To do so, we addressed both colonization of new leaves in spring and the dynamics of established communities when their host plants were moved into different polluted environments.


Dr. Sara Vicca


The climate change buffer on land

Climate change poses a major threat to humanity and urgent action is needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate climate change. Luckily, we have forests and other land ecosystems on our side to help us in this formidable task, at least for now. In this talk, I will present how land ecosystems have been acting as a buffer against climate change, how this is expected to evolve in future, and how we may use nature to safeguard us from dangerous climate change.


Ana Castanheiro



The PMF project: towards biomagnetic monitoring for source attribution of urban PM and associated early-health effects

Biomagnetic monitoring has shown to be a promising approach to capture spatio-temporal variation of particulate air pollution, yet lacking information on source-dependent magnetizable composition and health-relevancy of atmospheric particles impedes its general application in air quality assessments. This ongoing PMF project addresses this knowledge gap by evaluating atmospheric PM originating from different sources (road and railway traffic, shipping, industry) for its chemical composition, association with related pollutants, magnetic properties and early health response of human lung cells, combining a range of sampling and analytical techniques. This research hereby contributes to source “fingerprinting” and its potential for source attribution in urban areas, and to assess the health-relevancy of biomagnetic monitoring.


Abstracts 2018

Sofie Cambre

Nanoscale plumbing: Endohedral functionalisation of carbon nanotubes

The one-dimensional hollow structure of carbon nanotubes (CNTs), combined with smooth inner walls and a wide range of different chiral structures and diameters, makes them ideal nanocontainers for encapsulation of various molecules. In this talk, I will focus on the encapsulation of various molecules, ranging from small water molecules to elongated dipolar molecules, leading to peculiar phase transitions and specific stacking arrangements of the encapsulated molecules.


Filip Meysman

Microbial electricity: a surprise from the seafloor

Recently, long filamentous bacteria were discovered in marine sediments, capable of generating and mediating electricity over centimeter-scale distances. These so-called “cable bacteria” are multi-cellular and possess a unique energy metabolism, in which electrons are passed on from cell to cell along a chain of 10.000 cells. This microbial long-distance electron transport is a disruptive finding, both in terms of new biology as well as potential new technology. The capability of cable bacteria to transport electrons over centimeter distances implies that biological evolution must have developed a highly conductive, organic structure. If these conductive structures inside cable bacteria could be harnessed, entirely new materials and applications in bio-electronics might emerge.


Kris Laukens

Hacking the molecular patterns of life, from in vitro to in silico

Recent evolutions in biotechnology that allow us to systematically analyse the complex biomolecular composition (DNA, proteins, …) of an organism have transformed the life sciences into a data science discipline. Modern large scale data mining methods are needed to make sense of this avalanche of data. We present our journey, from the molecular wet lab to the computational data science lab, to reverse engineer the molecular networks that underlie living systems, and we show how this knowledge can lead to fundamental new insights as well as new biomedical applications.


Jonas Schoelynck

Hippo’s in Lake Victoria and their influence on the biogeochemistry of Si

The role of hippopotami in the biogeochemistry of the element silicon (Si) will be discussed, more specifically the flux of silicon from the Savannah towards the river they live in. After describing the role of Si and its effect on the climate and the primary production of nutrients in the oceans, the focus will be mainly on the contribution of the hippos in the Si cycle. An expedition to Kenya will be described where we found that hippos are up to 80% responsible for the Si flux from Lake Victoria, an essential necessity for the local fishery.


Sammy Verbruggen

Plasmonic photocatalysis for environmental and energy applications

Photocatalysis has emerged as a viable advanced oxidation process for environmental remediation, with only light as the required energy input. Most applications rely on TiO2 as the photocatalyst. One of the main limitations of this material is the large bandgap, restricting its use to UV light that only accounts for ca. 5% of the solar spectrum. A possible solution to expand the activity window to the entire UV-visible light range, is modifying the catalytic surface with noble metal nanoparticles that display (localized) surface plasmon resonance (SPR). In this talk the attractive features and potential applications of (plasmonic) photocatalysis will be explained.


Angela Privat Maldonado

Medical plasmas: can we fight cancer with the right plasma?

Cancer is one of the leading causes of mortality. In the last decades, scientists have explored the use of low-temperature plasmas against cancer in vitro and in vivo. This partially ionized gas provides a tuneable cocktail of reactive species, photons and electrons able induce different responses in cells. Plasma can be administered in a localized manner, an advantage over traditional radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatments. In this talk we will explore the types of plasma used in biomedicine and what are the main challenges that lie ahead for anticancer plasma therapies.


Christophe Segers

The search for an appropriate model to fit real-life data

Given a set of measurements - e.g. the impedance of an antenna or the outline of a profile - we often want to find the "best" model that fits those data. The definition of "best" usually depends on the context of the problem, as well as the kind of model. We look at different ways to measure the quality of an approximation - i.e. the use of different norms to minimise the error - and we consider various building blocks for the approximations.


Ben Van Duppen

Graphene in the spotlight: using 2D knowledge in a 3D world

Graphene is the thinnest material in the world. Being one atom thick, it  was for long believed, and even "proven", that it should not exist. Nonetheless, it was discovered in 2004 and turns out to feature a set of exceptional characteristics. Combined with the fact that a lot of new atomically thin materials have been discovered ever since, the research field of two-dimensional materials has become a vast field and is spanning topics from physics over chemistry to engineering. In this talk we place graphene in the spotlight and show how light and graphene can collaborate to form the basis of future opto-electronic devices.

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