R&D Manager at DCM
When I graduated as an agricultural engineer 13 years ago, my thesis supervisor put me in touch with Scientia Terrae, an independent research centre that had just been founded by the De Ceuster family. The aim of Scientia Terrae is to turn fundamental research into professional solutions, for the benefit of the horticulture sector. At that time, they were looking for researchers with expertise in crop protection. Since my master’s thesis was about ‘Biocontrol’, the first link was quickly made.
At Group De Ceuster, people can really grow and the aim is to make the most of the abilities of each employee.
After a few interviews, I could start as a Research Associate in the plant clinic where I had the opportunity to detect/analyse diseases using various diagnostic techniques for a period of two years. After that, I conducted a research project on micro-organisms in fruit and vegetables for two years. During that period, tomato cultivation in Belgium was confronted for the first time with the Pepino mosaic virus (PMV), a plant virus that causes production and quality losses in tomatoes. In the plant clinic, we saw the problems with this virus increase year after year. Together with the Proefstation voor de Groenteteelt (Test Station for Vegetable Growing) and Proefcentrum Hoogstraten (Test Center Hoogstraten and with the support of the Flemisch government (IWT) and the horticultural sector, we started a research project to identify the problems an look for solutions; a project that I coordinated for 7 years and which finally led to the development of a successful vaccination strategy. I also had the opportunity to do a PhD on this research. In 2010, I obtained my PhD degree at the University of Wageningen.
Since the past year, I work as R&D manager for DCM; a new challenge which implies that I take care of the follow-up of all the research projects within the company. We focus on product development as part of a long-term strategy to brand DCM as an innovative and green company. We emphasize knowledge, innovation and quality and also try to further diversify our product range.
When I look back on all these years that I have been working for Group De Ceuster, I am very grateful for the opportunities I have been given and for the freedom and confidence to help set the direction. At Group De Ceuster, people can really grow and the aim is to make the most of the abilities of each employee. Reflecting on the fascinating and varied path I have taken so far, I am truly happy to be part of this group.