I am interested in the interplay between physics, ecology, and biogeochemistry in the marine environment. I have worked on many topics, including deepsea nematodes, estuarine zooplankton, estuarine biogeochemistry, early diagenesis, benthic and pelagic foodwebs, environmental modelling, software development and differential equations. Usually there is some computational aspect involved in my work -this may be in the form of mechanistic (ecosystem) models, or some other number-crunching procedure that involves computers and programming. Indeed, my favorite working spot is behind my computer, although the occasional field work definitely has its charm!
I am a firm believer of open, transparent and reusable science, which –in my view- should include documenting the entire chain of research, from data up to the publication. This involves sharing also the raw data and the software and scripts that compute on these data.
Open science starts with open source software, so for more than 10 years, I have contributed to the open source software community, creating around 20 R-packages that are available on CRAN. To make the every-day scientific data analysis or modelling process open and reproducible, I use R with markdown – this creates documents that contain the programming codes and the output they generate (a concept known as literate programming).
I hold a master degree in Zoology (1983), a master in Computer Sciences (1985) and a PhD in biology (1988), all from Ghent University. I teach environmental modelling at the University of Ghent, for the first-year master “Global Change Biology” and for the first-year master “Oceans and Lakes”. I am professor in marine ecosystem modelling at the Geosciences department at Utrecht University.
I have written in the order of 200 scientific publications, 20 software packages and 2 books. A list of my scientific output/achievements can be downloaded here.
My job is not my only hobby! I play the cello (learnt this as an adult), and used to play the clarinet (as a child). In 2016 I started playing the viola. Bach is my favorite composer, Massive Attack my favorite modern band.
I enjoy my medium-large, wild and natural garden, and like to spend time on my mountain bike – for sports and because it takes me to some wonderful places.