When I started studying Bio-engineering Sciences at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, I had no idea of what I wanted to do in the future. I knew that I was interested in the different fields of science – biology, mathematics, chemistry – but I never realised the extent of what I could do as a bio-engineer. This became clear during the progress of my studies, especially thanks to the many practicals and to my internship at the R&D department of Tereos. During one of those practicals, I came in contact with the MICR research group. The type of experiments and techniques that were used, as well as the good atmosphere in the group, convinced me to do my master thesis in this centre, on a very new and industrially relevant topic: the development of an archaeal-based biosensor in Escherichia coli. Bitten by the synthetic biology microbe, I decided to continue in the research field and I applied for an FWO-SB fellowship to start a PhD.
The main goal of my PhD project is to improve an already existing microbial production process so that it can replace some of the chemical, fossil-based processes used today. I want to do this by combining the study and characterization of transcription factors with a synthetic biology approach, which will enable me to regulate the production pathway of an industrially important compound and to obtain higher production levels compared to what’s reached today. This project will contribute to the development of a more sustainable world, which is highly necessary today.