Danny Haelewaters

“I’ve always been an inquisitive person. Aiming to know a lot has played an important role in my youth. As a child I must have asked thousands of questions, probably more. My mom went nuts about it but she always answered, until the questions raised above her head and I had to search for answers by myself. This has led to an enormous number of books (my greatest possession) and a broad interest in things, science – biology – in particular.

From when I was able to utter my first few words as a baby I wanted to become a veterinary scientist, but you know how things go in life. So I became an assistant-salesman, an all-rounder at a hotel and even the running manager of a bed and breakfast in the rural South of France. However, the science was never too far away – it’s in my blood – so in the meanwhile I became a biologist and now I’m doing my PhD program at Harvard University. Speaking about some change!

Hesperomyces virescens (Ascomycota, Laboulbeniales) from an Asian lady beetle (Harmonia axyridis | © Farlow Herbarium, 2012

Since the very beginning of my student career at Ghent University (Belgium), I have loved the interdisciplinary research in biology. It probably contributed to my choice of Laboulbeniales as the topic of my Master’s Thesis. These fungi are parasites on insects, and therefore play an important role in insect-dominated food webs. Studying Laboulbeniales, mycologists have to be in contact with entomologists and vice versa. The study of Laboulbeniales has been hell to me as well as a relief. I spent some time struggling to get to know them, how they look like, what they really are and how they act, but now I’m really enjoying and using that knowledge in order to even get more out of it. I guess in the end they have become close friends of mine.

Overall the number of fungi associated with insects is estimated to be in the order of 10.000 to 50.000 species. However this group has received little attention to date, which is unfortunate because we’re dealing with a parasitic relationship with possible phylogenetic parallels between host and parasite and all sorts of possible applications (e.g. as biological control agents).”

September 2011 @ Cranberry Lake Biological Station, NY

Danny Haelewaters (°1983) holds a Bachelor in Veterinary Sciences, a Master of Science in biology, and a PhD in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology. During his Master program he developed a new technology to analyze forensic relevant fungi in casework at the Netherlands Forensic Institute. Between 2012 and 2018, he worked at the Farlow Herbarium of the Harvard University Herbaria (Cambridge, MA) as a PhD student. In 2018, he did a short postdoc at the University of South Bohemia in the Czech Republic, and since November 2018 he is a USDA-funded postdoctoral research assistant at Purdue University, where he characterizes the fungal microbiota of Romaine lettuce. In addition, he  writes popular science articles for different sources, including Scientias.nlEos-magazine, and FUNGI Magazine.

Danny Haelewaters (°1983) heeft een Bachelor in de Diergeneeskunde, een Master of Science in de biologie en een PhD in Organismische and Evolutionaire Biologie. Tussen 2012 en 2018 werkte hij als PhD student in het Farlow Herbarium van de Harvard University Herbaria (Cambridge, Massachusetts). In 2018 had hij een kortstondige postdoc positie aan de University of South Bohemia in Tsjechië. Sinds November 2018 werkt hij als postdoctoraal onderzoeksassistent aan Purdue University, waar hij gefinancierd door de USDA de schimmelmicrobiota van romaine sla bestudeert. Naast zijn job als onderzoeker schrijft hij ook (vaak populair-wetenschappelijke) artikels voor allerlei bronnen, waaronder Scientias.nlSea First Foundation vzw en Eos-magazine.

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