Six new FWO fellowships at Global Change Ecology

In the last call of the FWO PhD fellowships, the research groups of GCE were awarded six fellowships. Here we shortly present the new fellows and their research. Stay tuned for more information and news as their research develops.

Ignace Pelckmans ( ECOBE , PhD Fellowship Fundamental Research)

“During my PhD, I will use a combination of field study and modelling to understand whether spatial planning of mangroves and shrimp farms can prevent the flooding of nearby cities. From past research, we know that mangroves can act as a protective sponge, buffering coastal communities against incoming floods. However, we expect that not all patches of mangrove forest are equally important. I will investigate which locations and shapes of mangrove patches can protect river deltas best against incoming coastal floods.’

Pali Felice Gelsomini ( ECOBE , PhD Fellowship Strategic Basic Research)

“In order to develop a more low impact waterway management in the Scheldt Estuary, I will do research aiming to formulate precise recommendations as to location and timing of dredging and channel discharge management. I will study high frequency interactions between dredging activity, turbidity, water flow and primary production. I will use a combination of continuous high-frequency monitoring, satellite imagery and detailed analysis of monthly water samples.’

Simon Reynaert ( PLECO , PhD Fellowship Strategic Basic Research)

“The goal of my PhD project is to investigate the consequences of more persistent rainfall patterns for agricultural grasslands. By subjecting experimental grasslands to different climate and soil scenarios, we will test the effectiveness of novel cultivars and soil organic matter to buffer agricultural grasslands against increasingly persistent precipitation. Our findings will enable more sustainable grassland management and aid in maximizing productivity and minimizing economic losses in light of global change.’

Matthieu Chastel ( EVECO , PhD Fellowship Strategic Basic Research)

“In my PhD project, I will ‘provide sheep with wolf's clothing’. My project aims to benefit human-wildlife coexistence through a better understanding of wild predator behaviour. Specifically, I intend to establish if and how we can teach wild wolves to avoid livestock via three approaches. One consists of teaching wolves a phobic reaction toward a stimulus, a second consists of causing disgust in wolves toward eating sheep, and a third consists of protecting sheep with a light but toxic cover inspired from aposematic signalling. I aim to develop sustainable and easily up-scaleable tools to enable farmers and wildlife managers to conciliate predators conservation goals and livestock farming needs.’

Wouter Hendrycks ( EVECO , PhD Fellowship Fundamental Research)

"The main goal of my project is to unravel the role of insect plasticity and microbiome in the use of conventional and novel host plants in oligophagous (=eating only a few specific foods) cucurbit feeding tephritid fruit flies. In particular, I want to to identify changes (1) in microbiome assemblages, (2) fly and microbial gene expression profiles of tephritids attacking conventional and novel host plants and (3) test the impact of microbiome disruption on the fitness of tephritids attacking conventional and novel host plants."

Luna Geerts ( ECOBE , PhD Fellowship Strategic Basic Research)

In my PhD project, I will investigate how we can apply negative emission techniques, that actively sequester CO2 from the atmosphere, in coastal areas. I will focus specifically on enhanced silicate weathering (ESW). During ESW, we supply and spread silicate minerals throughout the coastal zone, in order to speed up silicate weathering, a natural process that consumes CO2. However, challenges and uncertainties remain, especially e.g. detailed CO2 consumption rates and the potential release of trace metals. I will develop a quantitative model to accurately describe the processes associated with ESW.


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