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 also the founder of Flanders Biobased Valley, a networking organization for the biobased economy in Flanders. He is a founder and executive chairman of Inbiose NV, a Ghent University spin-off company active in the field of specialty carbohydrate synthesis.

Tel.: +32 9 264 60 83

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.

Tel.: +32 9 264 93 85
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.

Tel.: +32 9 264 60 26
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.

Tel.: +32 9 264 60 26
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.

Tel.: +32 9 264 61 34

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.

Tel.: +32 9 264 60 30

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.

Tel.: +32 9 264 93 84
ir. Yatti De Nijs
RNA stability engineering
Using RNA stability engineering as a fine-regulating tool to align different pathway steps with each other. This strategy will lower metabolic burden onto the host S. cerevisiae and will in the end lead to a more efficient and stable production of interesting molecules.

Tel.: +32 9 264 60 27
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.

Tel.: +32 9 264 93 85
ir. Wim Hectors
Plastic bio-upcycling
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.

Tel.: +32 9 264 93 84
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. Sven Dierickx
Glycolipid engineering
Increasing the efficiency and elucidation of the regulatory mechanisms affecting glycolipid production with Starmerella bombicola. For these purposes an integrated multi-omics approach (genomics, transcriptomics and metabolomics) is applied which enables the development of rational metabolic engineering strategies.

Tel.: +32 9 264 60 45
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.

Tel.: +32 9 264 93 85
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.

Tel.: +32 9 264 93 84
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. 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).

Tel.: +32 9 264 93 85

Research Coordination

Dr. ir. Dominique Delmeire
Coordination Assistant
Tel.: +32 9 264 60 29
Anneleen De Vriendt
Coordination Assistant
Personal assistant of prof. Soetaert