Projects: Interactions of Humans & the Environment

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


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

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)

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. (2020-2022)

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)

PEBIOTRA - search for a greener pesticide - É. Perpete

The majority of insecticides belongs to neurotoxins having several toxicological effects on non-target living organisms, including humans. New classes of chemicals with new modes of action are therefore highly demanded such as bio-insecticides that target and disrupt biochemical functions of the insect. Trehalose (α-D-glucopyranosyl-α-D-glucopyranoside) is the main form of energy storage in the haemolymph of insects. The degradation of trehalose can be achieved by several metabolic pathways, including hydrolysis. In this case, trehalase (α-glucoside-1-glucohydrolase, EC catalyses the irreversible hydrolysis of trehalose into two glucose molecules. The inhibition of trehalase induces hypoglycaemia in the insect and results in a considerable reduction of glucose-related metabolism and, ultimately, a dysfunction of the life-sustaining biological systems of the body. The major objective of PEBIOTRA is to establish a proof of concept of the efficacy and selectivity of the inhibitors of trehalase with regard to a major pest, the aphid. (2020-)

Improving knowledge of atmospheric methane - M. Lepère

CH4TIR: Spectroscopy and forward model error improvement for CH4 retrieval in the TIR - The increase of green house and pollutant gases in Earth's atmosphere is predominantly responsible for global climate change and air quality degradation. Adequate knowledge of sources and sinks of these gases and their atmosphere feedbacks is necessary for the proper understanding and prediction of climate and air quality. Among them, methane (CH4) is an important and challenging molecule to study: although less abundant in the atmosphere than CO2, its radiative impact as a greenhouse gas is significantly larger. Since a few years, methane concentrations are increasing very fast again (after a plateau around year 2000) and our current understanding about natural and anthropogenic sources and sinks of this gas is still inadequate. The aim of the research is to exploit the synergies of different measurements to derive information on methane in the lower atmosphere, to better understand, quantify and monitor surface processes as well as sources and sinks of this gas, which is very important for climate change.
The Laboratory of Lasers and Spectroscopies (team: Muriel Lepère, Physics) has the necessary expertise in gas phase spectroscopy and experimental spectroscopy in the thermal infrared, in particular for molecules with atmospheric interest such as methane. (2019-2020)

Improving the ecological relevance of metals risk assessment - F. De Laender

Effects occurring in mesocosm food webs are complex and often difficult to understand. Pattern oriented modelling is used to predict not only one but multiple patterns in the data. (2018-2021) Read more

Effects of environmental stress on developmental plasticity of behavioural traits in the mangrove rivulus - F. Silvestre

The developmental plasticity of behavioural traits (aggressiveness and boldness) is investigated in an isogenic lineage of the self-fertilizing hermaphroditic vertebrate species, the mangrove rivulus (Kryptolebias marmoratus). How can environmental factors (salinity and exposure to a pollutant) during early life stages affect the methylome and the phenotype of somatic cells in adults’ brain and of germ cells of the adults’ ovotestis. (2017-2018) Read more

First analysis of the spectra recorded by NOMAD on-board the Trace Gas Orbiter spacecraft - M. Lepère

NOMAD (Nadir and Occultation for MArs Discovery) is one of four instruments on-board of the TGO. A suite of three high-resolution spectrometers, covering the UV-visible and infrared ranges, operate in solar occultation, limb and nadir viewing modes. It actually generates a huge dataset of Martian atmospheric observations across a wide spectral range. This project aims at the detection and mapping of the key constituents of the Martian atmosphere. Spatial and temporal variability of gases will be characterised through extended mapping to further constrain atmospheric dynamics. (2017-2021). see presentation

Implementation of transport proteins for integration in composite nanomaterials - É. Perpete & M. Lopes Rodrigues

Design of new composite nanomaterials by incorporating porins into polymers, thereby controlling the passage of solutes through an artificial film. (2016-2019)

Development of ecological archetypes and models for use in chemical risk assessment - F. De Laender & S. van den Berg

Identification of representative ecological archetypes from field data that are simple but instrumental for the detection of baseline/reference ecosystem status and different levels of pollution and habitat type in various geographical regions. Read more

Phytoplankton diversity and ecosystem functioning along gradients of grazing and toxicity - F. De Laender

Diatom communities are studied to show how biodiversity effects on compositional stability of ecosystems which in turn drives biodiversity effects on functional stability. (2015-2016) Research output

(AquaStress) Aquatic Systems under multiple Stress : a New Paradigm for Integrating Aquaculture and Ecotoxicology Research - P. Kestemont

Investigation of multiple stress in aquatic systems across multiple levels of biological organization and to verification to what extent multiple stress effects occurring at higher levels of organization can be predicted/explained based on observations of effects occurring at lower levels. (2012-2017) Read more