Prof. dr. ir. Wim Soetaert
Industrial Biotechnology
Prof. dr. ir. Wim Soetaert, the founder of, is an industrial biotechnology and biorefining specialist, who spent 13 years in the carbohydrate processing industry as a research director in Germany and France, for the sugar group Pfeifer & Langen and the wheat processing company Chamtor, before joining UGent as a full professor. He has been active at in the field of industrial biotechnology and downstream processing, specifically in the field of biosynthesis of specialty carbohydrate and biosurfactants. He has coordinated several (inter)national research projects on these subjects, focusing on strain engineering, process development and scale-up. He has a strong industrial drive and aims to take the necessary actions to bring new and promising technologies to the market. Lecturing the courses “Microbiology”, “Industrial biotechnology” and “Industrial fermentation processes and downstream processing” at Ghent University, he tries to inspire his students on the potential and importance of white biotechnology.

Prof. Soetaert is the director of the Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant, an open innovation pilot plant for the development of biobased products. He is a founder and executive chairman of Inbiose NV, a Ghent University spin-off company active in the field of specialty carbohydrate synthesis.

Post Doctoral Researchers

Dr. ir. Sophie Roelants
Glycolipid Biosurfactants
During her PhD, Sophie transformed the yeast Starmerella bombicola into a platform organism. A dedicated molecular toolkit was developed and proof of concept was delivered for the generation of new-to-nature biomolecules (biosurfactants and others) with this bug with great intrinsic potential. Afterwards Sophie decided to head on the road towards the valorization of this technology and she is currently coordinating actions both at the Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant (BBEPP) and; reengineering promising strains, developing sustainable and economically viable processes and exploring the application potential of this versatile technology.

Dr. ir Tom Delmulle
Metabolic engineering
During his PhD, Tom investigated several co-localisation strategies in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae for the production of value-added products. After a short time at Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant, Tom then joined where he is currently working on establishing new research lines that will aid in the transition towards a circular bio-economy.

Dr. ir. Sofie De Maeseneire
Metabolic engineering
Sofie De Maeseneire is an expert in metabolic engineering of yeasts and fungal hosts aiming for the generation of production platforms for specialty carbohydrates and biosurfactants. After obtaining her PhD on the development of a novel fungal host for enzyme production, her research focussed on the improvement of bio-ethanol production in yeast strains, the development of Saccharomyces cerevisiae as a platform for the production of specialty sugars, and (tool development for) metabolic engineering of new (eukaryotic) production hosts. Her research, assistance in and management of several national and international projects, in collaboration with several industrial partners and international research partners, resulted in about 20 peer-reviewed publications, a book chapter and the co-inventorship on 4 patents.

Dr. ir Maarten De Mol
Metabolic engineering & genome mining
Maarten De Mol is a metabolic and strain engineering specialist for multiple conventional microorganisms like Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Escherichia coli as well as for several less-conventional microorganisms. He monitors the lack of production robustness in heterologous hosts as well as develops novel strain engineering techniques to transform these microorganisms into cell factories applicable in a biobased economy. Maarten furthermore coordinates the SBO project ‘Iminogene’ which not only focusses on metabolic engineering but also on genome mining. He is experienced in the production of specialty carbohydrates such as human milk oligosaccharides and (amino)glycosides. Maarten has also contributed to the Carbosurf H2020-BBI-JU project as well as several IOF projects, actively manages’s Twitter account and also resides in the reviewer board of Antibiotics (MDPI). Additionally, he is also a member of the ‘Renewable Resources and Biorefineries (RRB)’ organizational and communication committees.

Technical & Scientific Staff

Gilles Velghe
Lab Manager
General lab-manager. Responsible for purchases, practical coordination and communication, member of the faculty’s First Intervention Team and Biosafety Control Unit.

PhD Students

ir. Veerle De Clercq
Strain robustness & aminoglycosides
Engineering S. cerevisiae laboratory strains towards improved strain robustness, an important industrial trait for production strains. Proof-of-concept will be provided by developing a production platform for aminogylcosides, highly potent and valuable pharmaceutical compounds.
ir. Thomas Willems
Specialty carbohydrate synthesis
Elucidating biosynthetic pathways and developing microbial production strains using bio-informatics and metabolic engineering for the production of specialty N-containing sugars​. These sugars show great application potential in medicine, food industry, etc.
ir. Elodie Vlaeminck
CO2 utilisation: bioprocess development
Developing CO2-based bioprocesses to sustainably produce biodegradable plastics and microbial oil. A two-stage fermentation is established to efficiently convert CO2 and H2into polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA) and triacylglycerols (TAG) using acetate as a platform molecule.
MSc. Maria Founti
Metabolic engineering
Building novel biosynthetic pathways and finetuning the native machinery of microbial strains for the production of a bioplastic co-polymer using genome engineering approaches. Aiming for large scale production of the co-polymer, intended for industrial use.

ir. Wim Hectors
Metabolic engineering
Working on a Moonshot project to convert paper and cardboard waste into sustainable chemicals such as biobased butadiene. CO2 inherently produced during fermentation will be immediately reused in the process itself.

MSc. Joana Martins
Metabolic engineering
Engineering bacteria to produce building blocks for the production of biodegradable biopolymers using industrial gas streams rich in CO2, leading to a more sustainable and cost-efficient production of bio-based building blocks for novel polymers.
ir. Jeltien Rombaut
Genome mining
Developing and applying functional-based screening for the identification of novel N-containing specialty carbohydrate gene clusters. These clusters lay the foundation for their sustainable production through microbial fermentation.

ir. Anne-Sofie De Rop
Natural product discovery
Anne-Sofie has a huge interest in the wonderous world of microorganisms and their capabilities. She works on identifying biosynthetic gene clusters of specialty N-containing carbohydrates from microorganisms and their application in microbial cell factories. This research is part of the IMINOGENE project, which aims to replace current inefficient chemical synthesis or extraction processes by a more sustainable and scalable alternative obtained through microbial fermentation. Furthermore, Anne-Sofie enjoys combining science and art by creating microbial agar artworks using a palette of colourful microorganisms and some creativity.
ir. Martijn Castelein
Process & application
Optimising the (downstream) processes for glycolipid biosurfactant production and exploring the application potential of these novel compounds in order to bridge the gap between research and market.

ir. Goedele Luyten
Regulation of glycolipid biosynthesis
Elucidating the transcriptional regulation of glycolipid biosynthesis in Starmerella bombicola using state of the art techniques. This will allow to improve production strains and to apply novel fermentation techniques and hence boost the overall productivity.

ir. Nicolas de Fooz
Glycolipid biosynthesis & metabolomics
Increasing the productivity of glycolipid biosynthesis with Starmerella bombicola through fermentation development. To this purpose, state-of-the-art metabolomics strategies are applied to in turn rationally engineer the fermentation process.

ir. Stijn Bovijn
Waste upcycling & glycolipid biosynthesis
Working on the European Waste2Func project to produce new-to-nature biosurfactants starting from industrial and agricultural waste streams. In order to both enable growth on waste-derived substrates and enhance productivities, different strategies for the metabolic engineering of Starmerella bombicola are investigated.

ir. Thibo Van de Craen
Waste-based glycolipid biosynthesis
Through a combined strategy of strain and process optimisation, various waste and by-product streams will be converted into new-to-nature biosurfactants by Starmerella bombicola. Thus, higher productivities and product uniformity than the current state-of-the-art will be pursued. This research is part of the WASTE2FUNC project, which aims to demonstrate the production of biosurfactants and lactic acid from food waste from agriculture, the food industry, supermarkets and restaurants.
ir. Elvira Bytyqi
Pathway elucidation for glycolipid biosynthesis
Transforming a novel non-conventional yeast into a platform organism by developing a molecular toolbox. This toolbox is used to confirm the biosynthetic pathway of innovative glycolipid biosurfactants in the novel yeast and will be applied to enhance its production efficiency. As such, this will allow the expansion of the structural and functional variety of microbial biosurfactants.


ir. Martijn Castelein
Assistant for the courses 'Microbiology' (2e Ba Bio-ir), 'Industrial biotechnology' (1e Ma Bio-ir) and 'Industrial Fermentation Processes and Downstream Processing' (2e Ma Bio-ir).

Research Coordination

Dr. ir. Dominique Delmeire
Coordination Assistant