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Dr. Marijn Bauters

Researchers

Dr. Marijn Bauters
Ghent University, PostDoc

Marijn Bauters is a Postdoc researcher at the Isotope Bioscience laboratory – ISOFYS of Ghent University and the Computational and Applied Vegetation Ecology (CAVE) lab. He holds a Phd Degree in Applied Biological Sciences (2018, Ghent University). He studies the interaction of ecology and biogeochemical cycles in tropical forests and hopes that improved knowledge on this topic leads to better conservation incentives. At this moment, his research strongly focusses on nitrogen and phoshporus biogeochemistry in the plant-soil continuum, and their role in forest regrowth in central Africa.

ResearchGate

IvanLizaga

Dr. Ivan Lizaga
Ghent University, PostDoc

Dr. Lizaga is a researcher at Ghent University in Belgium. His primary research focuses on assessing human-induced land and soil degradation problems combined with geological risks such as landslides and flash floods. Currently, most of his research focuses on comparing European and African catchments and the different environmental issues and risks nature and population face, especially in the areas of DRC and Zambia. His scientific contributions are helping to enhance the understanding of soil erosion and fine sediment transport, which are among the key global environmental problems threatening agriculture sustainability and ecosystems resilience. His main focus is on soil science and geomorphology, including soil erosion and sediment source fingerprinting modelling, land degradation, remote sensing, water management and geological risks. 

ResearchGate

Dr. Ivan Lizaga
Dr. Matti Barthel

Dr. Matti Barthel
ETH Zurich, Research technician

After graduating in ecology and working as a scientist in the field of biogeochemistry and plant ecophysiology, I switched my focus to the analytical side of research mainly working on the analysis of N2O isotopocules using laser and mass spectrometry. My general research interest focusses on the biogeochemical cycling of C and N across different ecosystems. Within this broad framework, I am particularly interested in aquatic and terrestrial greenhouse gas exchange using micrometeorological and stable isotope methods.  In the Congo Basin, we aim to quantify nitrous oxide emissions across various tropical forest types as tropical forests, in general, are believed to be the main natural source of nitrous oxide.

University website profile

Travis Drake

Dr. Travis Drake
ETH Zurich, PostDoc

My current research is focused on the effect of deforestation and agriculture on carbon mobilization in watersheds of eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. To accomplish this, I use a variety of analytical tools to characterize both organic and inorganic carbon in streams draining pristine and impacted catchments. These include stable and radiocarbon isotopes, FT-ICR mass spectrometry, fluorescence, uv-visible absorbance, and bioincubations. With these tools I strive to link the isotopic signature of inorganic carbon with potential organic sources. Underpinning this research is an effort to improve methods of capturing whole watershed processes, since a growing body of work has highlighted headwaters as important vents for respired terrestrial carbon dioxide.

University website profile
ResearchGate

Isaac Balume

Dr. Isaac Balume
ETH Zurich, PostDoc

Isaac Balume, a Congolese from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), is working as a Postdoc for CANALLS at ETH Zurich Switzerland. In the CANALLS he is in charge of monitoring and evaluation of environmental agroecological practices (WP4) through eight living labs across the Central African countries (Cameroon, DR Congo, Rwanda and Burundi).

He obtained his B. Sc. in crop production from the Catholique University of Bukavu, DRC (2009), M.Sc. in Sustainable Soil Resource Management from the University of Nairobi, Kenya (2013) and Ph.D. in Agricultural Sciences - Agronomy in the tropics and sub-tropics from the University of Hohenheim, Germany (2021). 

He worked at the Tropical Soil Biology and Fertility (TSBF) of the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and at the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) for more than ten years as Lab technician, Research assistant and Research Associate. 

Prior to joining ETH, he worked one year as a Postdoc system agronomist for IITA in the DRC. He has extensive experience in both implementation and coordination of research for development (R4D) projects.  For instance, he served as focal person for the coffee banana integration in the grate lake countries (DRC, Rwanda and Burundi), Legume CHOICE and Legume systems under Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) and, Soils4Africa in the DRC. 

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Antoine de Clippele
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Antoine de Clippele
ETH Zurich, Project coordinator

With a background in agricultural sciences, I have previously worked on rural development and food systems transition in sub-Saharan Africa and Europe. Capitalising on these past experiences, I will coordinate the fieldwork and activities between the different research teams of TropSEDs (Tropical Soil Erosion Dynamics). With a focus on the Kasai basin, the objective of our project is to elucidate the controls on the erosional transfer of organic carbon across space (hillslope to basin-wide) as well as across time (Holocene to present). To achieve these objectives, we will organize several multidisciplinary field campaigns in the form of two 800 km boat cruises as well as land field trips in the Kasai Basin. As coordinator of TropSEDs, my work will specifically focus on setting up these field campaigns in the Kasaï Basin.

Bagalwa Rukeza Montfort

Bagalwa Rukeza Montfort
UCLouvain, PhD student

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I am a researcher at the Goma Volcanological Observatory, in charge of the remote sensing section of natural hazards. Since November 2018, I have a MSc in Management Environmental Sciences. I am a doctoral student enrolled at the Catholic University of Louvain. My research area is focused on human impact on sediment flows in the western part of the Lake Kivu region, D.R.C.

My role in the current project is to contribute to the management of forest ecosystems and soil protection against erosion in eastern of D.R.Congo.

Lissie de Groot
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Lissie de Groot
ETH Zurich, PhD student

At the end of 2021, I finished my master’s degree in Ecology and Conservation at the University of Groningen. I worked on a variety of projects such as studying ecological niches of sand masons, studying marram grass establishment in dunes zones, and working in seagrass restoration in the Dutch Wadden Sea. During my studies I gained fieldwork experience in marine and aquatic systems in Sweden and in different parts of the Netherlands. After graduating, I got the opportunity to work as a lab technician at ETH Zurich for a couple of months. More specifically, I conducted a short-term study on seasonal changes of biomarkers in different-sized lakes in Switzerland. The lab work coupled to organic geochemistry in aquatic systems inspired me to apply for a Ph.D. as part of the TropSEDs project. My research focuses on the effect of land-use and climate on the fluvial erosion of sediments, organic and inorganic carbon fluxes, and carbon biolability. I will collect water samples during the wet and the dry season from river channels that drain different biospheres and land-uses in the Kasai River basin. Here, I will study the origin of the aquatic carbon by radiocarbon dating and biomarkers over a spatial gradient through broadleaf, woodland, savannah, and cropland biospheres.

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Michelle Engelhardt
ETH Zurich, PhD student

Through my studies in Environmental Sciences and Geoecology at the University of Tübingen I became particularly interested in biogeochemical processes and the various interactions between water, soil, sediment, and the atmosphere. In addition, my early experience as a scout motivates me even further to explore and conserve nature. In the TropSEDs project, I will conduct sediment sampling of lakes along the Kasaï River to investigate the clay mineralogy as well as carbon and oxygen isotope compositions. The aim is to relate observed changes to the climate and land-use changes in the modern Kasaï Basin. We also hope to get a better insight about the carbon sources and sinks, which is important for understanding atmospheric carbon dioxide levels worldwide.

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Gaëlle Wanlin
UCLouvain, PhD student

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I am a geologist with a particular interest in climate change and in how humans affect the planet. That is why I did my MSc thesis at ULiège in palaeoclimatology, studying the precipitation changes in Mexico in the last hundreds of years by analyzing lake sediment cores. My experience with sedimentological, mineralogical, and geochemical lab work and analytical tools will be useful for my PhD work as a member of the Earth and Climate research center at UCLouvain (Louvain-La-Neuve, Belgium).
More precisely, my role within the TropSEDs project is to analyze soil samples from sediment cores to try to understand how erosion impacts soil-atmosphere carbon exchange in upland soils of the Kasaï Basin (Democratic Republic of the Congo). Furthermore, the goal of my research is to determine how the exchange is controlled by mineralogy, climate, and land-use, notably by reconstructing the recent soil erosion history by using fallout radionuclide tracers.

ResearchGate

GaëlleWanlin
Benjamin Bukombe

Benjamin Bukombe
Augsburg University, PhD student

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I am an agricultural and soil scientist. I got my bachelor’s degree in soil and environment and my master’s degree in agricultural sciences with specialization on soils.  My previous researches have been focusing on integrated soil fertility management, digital soil mapping and remote sensing of the landscape.

I am currently a PhD student funded by the TropSOC project, at the Institute of Geography, Augsburg University. As part of project objectives, I am trying to understand the effects of erosion and geochemistry on nutrient cycles and biomass production in tropical forests and agroecosystems with much focus on carbon. I will assess carbon inputs patterns and release and the effects that change in soil conditions has on plant biomass allocation strategies across different geochemical systems of tropical Africa.
University website profile

ResearchGate

Joseph Tamale

Joseph Tamale
Augsburg University, PhD student

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Joseph is a PhD student at University of Augsburg in Germany with a cross affiliation to ETH Zürich via Prof. Sebastian Doetterl. Joseph is interested in soil biogeochemistry of tropical terrestrial ecosystems. He is currently studying drivers and proximal controls of soil greenhouse gas fluxes and nitrogen leaching from an ecosystem nutrient manipulation experiment in Budongo forest and a nearby intensively managed sugarcane plantation in Uganda. Joseph’s expertise cuts across chamber based field measurements of greenhouse gases, statistical data analysis and GIS.

University website profile

ResearchGate

Mario Reichenbach

Mario Reichenbach
Augsburg University, PhD student

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I am a PhD-Student working in the DFG funded Emma Noether Research Group TropSOC since February 2018. Within this project I am focusing on different soil C fractions and C stabilization mechanisms in tropical soils in the Congo Basin. 

I did my B.Sc. in Physical Geography at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main and carried out my Bachelor Thesis in the northernmost part of Namibia focussing on soil ecological assessments on agricultural areas. I finished my M.Sc. in Geoscience/ Geology/ Paleontology also in Frankfurt a. M. For my master thesis I conducted a geological mapping in the austrian alps and reconstructed the palecological parameters and sedimentary processes of the cretaceous Mittagsspitz formation. My research interests includes quantification of stable/ labile soil C fractions in tropical soils on different geologies; soil fractionations and C stabilization mechanisms in different soil geochemistries and geomorphic positions; sequential mineral extraction and clay classification and evaluation of novel techniques for high-resolution, low cost soil assessment techniques in tropical systems suitable for large scale assessments (FT-IR spectroscopy).

University website profile
ResearchGate

Matt Cooper

Matt Cooper
ETH Zurich, PhD student

Matt is a prospective PhD candidate working as a systems scientist addressing linkages between anthropogenic soil disturbances and tropical forest recovery mechanisms. His doctoral study will utilise state-of-the-art remote sensing techniques to bridge the gap between plot scale and landscape scale analyses of tropical forest carbon and vegetation dynamics. His specific focus lies in East Africa where he has lived and worked for more than ten years in different conservation and restoration ecology projects. His master's degree was obtained at the Freie Universitaet in Berlin in Evolution, Ecology and Biodiversity and his bachelor's degree at The Open University in Milton Keynes in Environmental Science.
University website profile

ResearchGate

Laura Summrauer

Laura Summerauer
ETH Zurich, PhD student

Currently, I am studying the impact of deforestation on carbon stabilization and plant nutrients dynamics in eroding and degrading croplands along the Albertine Rift, the western branch of the East African Rift System. I analyze how fast erosion (and thus the removal of fertile topsoil) takes place after deforestation. Using a soil coring system, I try to understand how carbon and nutrients are buried and deposited in colluvial soils. Moreover, I analyze the impact of different parent material as a source for nutrients after removal of the deeply weathered subsoil on hillslopes, but also with different characteristics for stabilizing mechanisms. For analyzing soil samples, I use soil infrared spectroscopy and statistical modeling approaches. By establishing a soil infrared library for central Africa, I aim to provide a less expensive, fast, and reproducible tool for soil analyses to help fill a crucial gap of soil data.

University website profile

ResearchGate

RoxanDaelman

Roxanne Daelman
Ghent University, PhD student

With a master in mathematics and a postgraduate in weather and climate modeling, I started my PhD at the Isotope Bioscience Laboratory – ISOFYS of Ghent University as an advocate of interdisciplinary research. As part of the CongoFlux team, I will focus on greenhouse gas fluxes between the tropical forest and atmosphere in the Congo Basin, measured by the flux tower at the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve of Yangambi. In addition, I will take a closer look at the exchange of CO2, CH4 and N2O between soil and atmosphere using automated, dynamic soil chambers.

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Viktor Van de Velde
Ghent University, PhD student

After completing my master’s degree in tropical agriculture, I had the opportunity to join the ISOFYS team at Ghent University as a PhD student. My research focuses on the biogeochemical recuperation of Afrotropical secondary forests after slash-and-burn events using four work packages. The main focus is, respectively, on nutrient limitations during the growth of pioneer tree species, biogeochemical recuperation of soils in terms of microbial functional and taxonomic composition and N- and P cycling, yield determinations of cassava, and finally a large-scale meta-analysis of Afrotropical chronosequence studies resulting in an integrated study. The combination of these work packages will render a comprehensive view on shifting agriculture and its effects on tropical regrowth forests, filling important knowledge gaps from the understudied Congo Basin.

Thoma Sibret
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Thomas Sibret 
Ghent University, PhD student

His work intends to install the very first flux tower of the Congo Basin forest within the UNESCO Man and Biosphere Reserve of Yangambi (Tshopo Province, former Orientale Province, DRC). A flux tower measures the flux of important greenhouse gases (GHGs; CO2, CH4 and N20) which ultimately contributes to quantifying the global GHG budget.

Besides his management work, he has a great interest in the study of photosynthetic capacity of plants, actually focusing on plants originating from the Sahelian savannahs.

Geradine Boon
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Geraldine Boon
Ghent University, Project manager

I am a bioengineer specialised in Plant Production System with experiences in tropical forest and agroecology. My current work aims to manage and coordinate the activities of CongoFlux site in DR Congo (Yangambi). The site consists of a flux tower that measures the long-term uptake and release of greenhouse gases (CO2, N20, CH4, H20) from the forest using the eddy covariance method. I also support the collection of ancillary data and the technical maintenance of the measurement equipment.

Lodewijk Lefevre
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Lodewijk Lefevre
Ghent University, technician

His work intends to install and maintain the scientific equipment on the very first flux tower to measure the greenhouse gas balance of the Tropical Rainforest in the Congo Basin. The flux tower should deliver high-quality fluxdata and improve the understanding of the global carbon cycle. Working part-time for the UGent and part-time for the University of Antwerp, he hopes this tower can contribute significantly to provide a trustworthy dataset for researchers around the world.

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Nathan Carlier
UCLouvain, PhD student

I completed my master degree in geography at UCLouvain in July 2022, where I did my master thesis on the remote sensing of tropical forests in the Tshopo province of Congo. Inspired by the work that was done in the DRC, I decided to further my studies by joining the TropSEDs project as a PhD student. This project aims to model lateral carbon fluxes through the whole Kasaï Basin. Thanks to my formation in geomorphology and remote sensing, my personal research focuses on floodplains. More specifically, I aim to study contemporary changes in sediment deposition and the carbon storage capabilities of Kasaï floodplains. These changes have been hypothesized as a result of rapid land use change and demographic growth in the DRC. With my work, we will better understand the role of floodplains as either a carbon source or sink in the basin.

Nathan Carlier
Nadin Bahizire
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Nadine Bahizire
UCLouvain, PhD student

My passion for environmental issues and knowledge of forestry dates back many years. I have a bachelor's degree in Forest Ecosystem Management and a master's degree in Biodiversity Conservation. Currently, I am doing my PhD on the modeling of biomass and canopy chemistry in different strata of tropical forests using UAV multi-spectral images. The objective is to set up a method of study and management of forest areas at low cost and thus multiply the possibilities of forestry studies. This contributes to the possible good management of forests and mitigation of climate change. This purpose is very important to me.

Xiaojing Ou
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Xiaojing Ou
UCLouvain, PhD student

Xiaojing completed her master's degree at the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, where she explored rill erosion on gently sloped cropland through UAV investigation. This experience sparked her interest in using remote sensing techniques for soil science. In October 2021, she joined Kristof's lab for her PhD, focusing on soil organic carbon (SOC) dynamics in the dry tropical regions. The project aims to understand how different agricultural practices, like smallholder vs. high-input farming and varying cultivation durations, impact SOC levels in croplands. The research is expected to provide useful insights for local soil management.

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Pengzhi Zhao
UCLouvain, PostDoc

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Pengzhi Zhao is a Postdoctoral Researcher affiliated with the Earth & Life Institute at UCLouvain. He obtained a Ph.D. in Physical Geography from UCLouvain, Belgium, in 2022. Prior to rejoining UCLouvain, he worked as a Postdoctoral Researcher at the UK Center for Ecology & Hydrology in Lancaster. Dr. Zhao's research is centered around understanding the impacts of human activities, such as erosion and terracing, on soil organic carbon (SOC) dynamics and biogeochemical cycles. In doing so, he employs a diverse array of analytical tools, including soil incubation & fractionation, 13C and 15N labeling, FTIR spectroscopy, clay XRD, and SOC modeling etc. Currently, he is a member of the TropSEDs project. His role is to predict the transformation of eroded C along the land-river-ocean continuum in collaboration with Prof. Pierre Regnier at Université libre de Bruxelles.

Pengzhi Zhao
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