Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research
Royal Netherlands
Institute for Sea Research
Phone number
+31 (0)113 577 487
Senior Scientist

Dr. Karline Soetaert

Senior Scientist


  • Biogeochemical cycles
  • Sediment-water interactions
  • Environmental modelling
  • Scientific computing
  • Open source software (R)

Research interests

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!

Tag cloud of my past workSelfie taken after the Northsea Cruise, June 2017, with the RV Pelagia.

Research statement

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).

Picture taken at the useR conference 2017 in Brussels, where I gave a tutorial on environmental modelling using R.

Short CV

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 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.



Linked news

Friday 02 December 2016
Good things come from above for deep-sea coral reefs
Deep-sea coral reefs grow in the oceans at great depths in the dark. They can be found around the peaks of limestone mounds rising from the seafloor up to hundreds of meters. The corals produce these limestone mounds themselves: they consist of dead…

Linked blogs

Tuesday 02 October 2018
NIOZ@SEA | Ecologisch onderzoek in de Nederlandse delta’s
De ecosystemen in de Oosterschelde, Grevelingen en Haringvliet zijn aan het veranderen door de invloed van onze Deltawerken, maar ook door klimaatverandering. In de Oosterschelde verdrinken de zandplaten langzaam door zandhonger, de bodem in het…
Thursday 26 October 2017
Similar as on land, sunlight is an essential ingredient of life in the seas: it heats up the water and is needed for the tiny algal cells in the water to grow. Sediment particles floating in the water block the light and therefore interfere with…
Tuesday 13 June 2017
NIOZ@Sea: North Sea expedition
Seven PhD students, three senior scientists, two assistants and the 12-headed Pelagia crew will embark on a scientific research cruise to the North Sea in the first two weeks of June.

NIOZ publications

Linked projects

NWO SANDBOX_Smart and sustainable design for offshore operations in a sandy seabed
Karline Soetaert
Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research
Project duration
28 May 2015 - 31 Aug 2019
EMODnet_The European Marine Observation and Data Network - part biology
Karline Soetaert
European Community
Project duration
19 Apr 2017 - 18 May 2019
PULS_Impact Assessment of Pulstrawl Fishery (IAPF)
Karline Soetaert
Wageningen Marine Research
Project duration
1 Jan 2016 - 31 Dec 2019