Projects: Interactions of Humans & the Environment

Human-wildlife interactions - N. Dendoncker

Along-term monitoring program will be set up using a unique combination of mobile phone and social media data alongside camera traps to investigate human and animal behaviour in two Belgian national Parks (NP Entre Sambre et Meuse and NP Hoge Kempen) to better understand human-wildlife interactions. (2024-2025)

RTC² - C. Linard

In collaboration with the ISSeP, Catherine Linard (Geography) participates in a new project on "Territorial Resilience to Climate Change" in Morocco, funded by the Wallonie-Bruxelles International (WBI). The project aims to strengthen the capacity of communities and territories to cope with and adapt to climate change, particularly flood risks, to reduce human, economic and environmental losses. This involves reducing risks, improving preparedness and response, and facilitating recovery and reconstruction after flooding. The focus will be on the resilience of critical infrastructure, such as drinking water systems, transport networks and health facilities. It will also involve raising people's awareness of the risks and strengthening their ability to take preparedness and adaptation measures. Catherine will co-supervise two doctoral theses.

Comparative assessment of ethinylestradiol and estetrol's disruptive effects on the immune system of zebrafish (Danio rerio) - P: Kestemont, L. Burattin

(2022-2024, FRIA first grant)

ILEE-FSR-mangroves:Socio-ecological resilience of populations living around mangroves - S.Henry, P. Kestemont

The specific objective of this research is to seek relevant indicators to measure the resilience of habitats and inhabitants - population, fauna and flora - of the mangrove ecosystem. A particular focus will be on the fisheries resource.
The study area is the Beninese coastline (West Africa). In Benin, the mangrove areas are rich in biodiversity and present an important resource for the populations living in the vicinity. They are facing important pressures due to an exploitation that is too often unsustainable, demographic growth and rural development.
PhD for Constant Gnansounou (2022-2026)

Spatio-temporal evolution of dengue outbreaks at different scales, epidemic factors, and risk perception. The case of Argentina. - C. Linar & J. Piette

Internal funding, assistant, PhD thesis (2022-2028)

ARES-mobility: Spatio temporal predication of the spread of Covid-19 in Rwanda - C. Linard


Remote sensing for malaria risk mapping in Senegal: assessing the potential of Sentinel satellite imagery - C. Linard & C. Morlighem

PhD thesis (2022-2024)

Malaria risk mapping in Senegal: combining environmental and human factors - C. Linard


BEESAFE: Bases for Edna Exploitation to Study Apidae Foraging habits and their Environmental pathogens - N. Dendoncker

PhD in enterprise (2022-2023)

Changing water conditions in Senegal: what implications for monthly population distribution and short-term migration? - S. Henry, S. Dujardin

PhD thesis C. Visée, assistant (2021-2017)

MAPnSEE - C. Linard, J. Marescaux

Pathogen Monitoring - Environmental Epidemiological Surveillance Covid 19. (2021)

Impacts of nitrogen deposition in the natural environment on pollen allergy and respiratory infection outcomes in Belgium - C. Linard, N. Dendoncker

NITROPOL-BE’s main objective is to understand how nitrogen deposition affects pollen allergy burden in Belgium, adjusting for potential confounding by air pollution and climate. First, we will examine the effects of nitrogen enrichment and induced plant community shifts on pollen abundance, species composition, and pollen potency by setting up a monitoring scheme in natural environments across a nation-wide nitrogen enrichment gradient. Second, we aim to experimentally test the hypothesis that nitrogen enrichment induces increased potency Catherine Lianrd, Nicolas Dendonckerof airborne pollen through quantifying pollen allergens and clinically testing allergen potency of pollen of allergenic grass and tree species collected in natural environments and from plants subjected to experimental nitrogen enrichment. Finally, we aim to explore the burden of allergic and respiratory disease including the recent COVID19 outbreak attributable to nitrogen deposition and aeroallergen exposure and to evaluate health care costs and benefits under a range of nitrogen deposition scenarios and policy interventions through a disability-adjusted life-year (DALY) approach. NITROPOL-BE will engage a multidisciplinary team of scientists, biodiversity conservationists, policymakers, and citizens (allergy patients) in Belgium. It aims to provide the scientific basis and evidence to support regional nitrogen deposition reduction and environmental policies as well as national health policies. (2021-2025) More information

ARES-CCD: Characterization of microplastics in Madagascar's continental waters and ecotoxicological study on local fish fauna - P. Kestemont, A. Rabezanahary

(2021-2025, PhD thesis)

FISHMICROBIOPLAST - V. Cornet, P. Kestemont

Influence of microplastic exposure on the establishment of host/ microbiota relationship in the intestine in interaction with the immune system of the zebrafish: Study the effect of microplastic in rivers on fish health (and eventually human health), since it is known that microplastics can trigger oxidative processes, and these in turn, in terms of human or animal health, can have effects in terms of cancer, in particular. (2021-2024)

Atmospheric gases: line shape parameters - M. Lepère, B. Vispoel

This research will be devoted to the experimental and theoretical studies of atmospheric pollutants (methane and nitrous oxide). The effect of the pressure and temperature will be investigated using the URLLS high-resolution spectrometers (“home-made” quantum cascade laser spectrometer and the new dual-comb spectrometer IRis-F1) and semi-classical numerical simulations. (2021-2024)

Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant power of different compounds (feed additives for livestock) - P. Kestemont

Evaluation of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant power of different compounds (feed additives for livestock) based on tests using the early stages of the zebrafish. The toxicity of such compounds will be measured as a function of the dose and their characteristics; all based on behavioural tests and transcriptomic responses of a series of genes involved in anti-inflammatory and antioxidant processes. Service agreement with Nuscience (2021)

Adaptations aux changements environnementaux en Afrique de l'Ouest: perceptions et chronologies - S. Henry, J. Luyts

PhD thesis (2020-2024)

Win2Wal: BACTOFIGHT - P. Van Cutsem, G. Van Aubel

Feasibility of a biocontrol product against bacterial plant diseases. (2019-2024)

Characterization and comparison of ecotoxicity of estrogens - P. Kestemont

The aim is to assess the ecotoxicological (or eco-friendly) aspect of an oestrogen (Estetrol-E4), whether or not it is associated with a progestogen (Drospirenone - DRSP) as a contraceptive hormone, via biological tests using zebrafish. In collaboration with the pharmaceutical company Mithra. (2020-2023)

Etude de la dépendence en pression et en température de mélanges gazeux d'intérêt atmosphérique par sepctroscopies à double peigne de fréquence (DCS) et à laser à cascade quantique (QCL) - M. Lepère

Study of the effect of pressure and temperature on atmospheric pollutants. Measurements will be performed using an "home-made" Quantum Cascade Laser Spectroscometer and IRis-F1, the new Dual Comb Spectrometer provided by IRsweep. (2020-2026)

Ecotoxicology, nanoparticles, immunity - P. Kestemont

Ecotoxicity of zinc (ZnO) and titan (TiO2) metal oxide nanoparticles to aquatic organisms: Identification of toxicity mechanisms and immunomodulatory effects in rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) - PhD project (2019-2021)(2022-2023)

HighTempSpectroAtmos: High temperature spectroscopic studies of small hydrocarbons in gas phase with atmospheric interests - M. Lepère

Crédit de recherches, FNRS. (2020-2021)

Landslide and flood hazards and vulnerability in NW Rwanda: towards applicable land management and disaster risk reduction - S. Henry

A dynamic estimation of the vulnerability to landslides and floods in the rural region of N-W Rwanda. Based on satellite images, the aim is to improve population estimates at a fairly fine scale. (2020-2025)

PEEMPASS - Perceptions of environmental modifications and human mobility in Sub- Saharan Africa - S. Henry

This project aims at better understanding of the role of people’s subjective perceptions and representations of climate change on the decision to migrate in West Africa. Quantitative and qualitative approaches based on the exploitation of existing data and new fieldwork in Senegal will be combined. In Step 1, data from surveys and meteorological stations will jointly address questions such as: What are the perceptions of climate change that influence the decision to migrate? What are the characteristics of households intending to migrate in response to perceived changes? Step 2 will concentrate on household surveys, focus groups and interviews with stakeholders to characterize differences in perceptions of climate change between migrants and non-migrants, by controlling factors as climate zone, political and socio-economic context, climate-sensitivity and household vulnerability, to determine the relative influence of these perceptions on the decision to migrate. Step 3 will propose a conceptual framework that includes the role of perceptions of climate change in the decision to migrate. Thresholds of vulnerability to climate change will be defined that provoke individuals migrate or stay, or render them unable to migrate. The results will improve the understanding of potential future climate impacts on migration decisions and will help to develop adaptation programs in response to climate change. (2020-2024)

Earthquake Hazard and Vulnerability Assessment – Developing Innovative Solutions for Sustainable Risk Reduction and Communication in Haiti - S. Henry

Assessment of the vulnerability of households to earthquakes to be integrated into a prevention tool. A pedagogic component includes the development of a board game to raise awareness to seismic risk among primary school children as well as a continued training module for teachers at primary level. (2019-2024)

LEVERAge: Mobile phone data for transformative urban adaptation pathways - C. Linard, S. Dujardin

The project aims at developing transformative urban adaptation strategies based on mobile phone data in the Philippines and Vietnam. The approach combines advanced spatial modelling techniques and interviews with local actors involved in spatial planning. (2020-2023)

Improve the understanding of the aim of the perceptions of climate change on the migration decision for the households in West Africa - S. Henry

FNRS – Mandat de Chargé de recherche (2018-2021)

MIGRoBe - Défis socio-culturels de la migration européenne. Le cas des roumains en Belgique - S. Henry

Socio-cultural challenges of european migration - the case of Romanians in Belgium. (2017-2019)

REACT (Remote Sensing for Epidemiology in African CiTies) - C. Linard, S. Dujardin

Rapid urban growth and associated demographic, environmental and socioeconomic changes modify the epidemiology of vector-borne diseases, e.g. malaria. The project aims at improving the knowledge of intra- and inter-urban malaria risk by integrating remote sensing data at different spatial and temporal resolutions into various modelling approaches. (2016-2020; 2021-2022) Read more

ASSESS (Améliorer les Statistiques de décès pour mieux Suivre les Évolutions Sanitaires dans la région de Dakar, Senegal) - C. Linard, A. Gadiaga

Life expectancy in Senegal is very high, on average 65 years, but unequal access to health care, equipment or wastewater treatment leads to persisting inequalities within cities and between rural and urban milieus. Aims are to refine mortality statistics and provide the civil state of Dakar with an efficient sanitary planning tool. (2016-2021) Read more

RespirIT: Assessing spatio-temporal relationships between respiratory health and biodiversity using individual wearable technology - N. Dendoncker, C. Linard, S. Dujardin

Unravelling the complex interactions between exposure to biodiversity such as urban green elements, forests or nature in general and allergic ‘hay fever’ symptoms. Data on the whereabouts, activities and allergic symptoms will be collected from volunteers allergic to tree pollen (hazel, alder, birch). Combining these with maps of biodiversity, air quality and pollen concentrations will enable models to predict relative risks for allergic symptoms.
(2016-2020) Read more here or here

Population map for Benin- C. Linard (in collaboration with BlueSquare)

How can Big Data sources such as satellite data, mobile phone data and large scale user feedback enhance strategic purchasing in health by integrating population and poverty maps into DHIS2/Open RBF tools? (2016)