After obtaining my Master degree in biology (Cell & Systems Biology) at the University of Antwerp, I started my scientific journey as a PhD student in January 2018 supported by a personal FWO-SB grant (FWO = Research Foundation Flanders). During this joint project with the University of Antwerp (Supervision: Kris Laukens, Pieter Meysman) and the Institute of Tropical Medicine Antwerp (Supervision: Stijn Deborggraeve, Sandra van Puyvelde and Jan Jacobs), I studied the bacterium Salmonella Concord. I cultured a lot of these bacteria, performed short-read sequencing (Illumina), long-read sequencing (PacBio and Nanopore) and antimicrobial susceptibility testing (disk diffusion and Sensititre), and developed a lot of expertise in bacterial genomics and building bioinformatics pipelines. A manuscript on the genomic appraisal of Salmonella Concord is currently under review.
But that's not all! During my PhD, I also studied the differences in gene co-expression between two Salmonella Typhimurium strains, which led to the development of an R package (https://github.com/Cuypers-Wim/gccR) and some fascinating findings that require further investigation.
Since February 2022, I've been working on a groundbreaking project called 'LeapSEQ' at the Adrem Data Lab. Our mission is to facilitate rapid mobile pathogen monitoring using Nanopore sequencing, which is the future of pathogen detection! What makes this project even more special to me is our focus on providing added value to low- and middle-income countries. As someone who's passionate about making a positive impact on the world, this topic is very close to my heart. I believe that everyone should have access to the latest technological advancements, and I'm honoured to be part of a team that's working towards this goal.
I also have interests outside the lab 😎. Basketball has been a big part of my life for the past 15 years, and I've played on several teams including Oxaco BBC Boechout, Antwerp Giants and Mercurius Berchem. Through basketball, I've learned the importance of teamwork and a positive group spirit, which are qualities that I try to bring with me to any project or collaboration. When I'm not on the court, you'll find me playing the acoustic guitar and exploring different genres like Blues, Country, Bluegrass, and more. And when I really want to get away from it all, I enjoy going on long hikes and backpacking trips.