Short CV Veerle Fievez

Veerle Fievez (PhD in Applied Biological Sciences, Ghent University, 2002) is Professor of Animal Nutrition at Ghent University's Department of Animal Sciences and Aquatic Ecology. Although her current main expertise is on ruminant nutrition and microbial digestion and its importance in livestock production, her MSc degree was not in Animal Science, but she graduated as a Bioscience Engineer, option environmental technology. This background resulted in a specific approach of her research group, where new developments are explored from an engineer’s perspective for potential applications. Furthermore, environmental challenges within livestock production always have been a major focus of the group. The main expertise in ruminant nutrition and microbial digestion in livestock is used for this purpose to advance knowledge toward more resource-sustainable animal nutrition. As such they aim to contribute to responsible food production and healthy productive animals.

Since she started as a junior professor in 2007, she has been committed to both fundamental and applied research, securing consistent funding along the way. Research endeavors encompass a broad spectrum, ranging from in vitro simulations of anaerobic fermentation processes with meticulous metabolite analysis to the integration of metabolite knowledge into on-farm monitoring and nutrition optimization strategies. To maintain leadership in the global research arena, the group prioritizes continual enhancement of the high-throughput in vitro simulation platform and expansion of biomarker sets for dairy nutrition optimization, adaptable to various climatic conditions. In the domain of data analysis, the approach has evolved dynamically, integrating Bayesian methods alongside traditional frequentist statistical analyses. Furthermore, while the group continues to utilize hypothesis-driven experimental approaches, their methodology has expanded to include knowledge discovery from combined datasets. This comprehensive approach incorporates mixed effect models and a diverse range of machine learning techniques such as support vector machines, decision trees, and neural networks. This not only has been applied within the European dairy context: early on, she saw the value in collaborating with researchers from the Global South, not only to foster societal engagement but also to enrich research endeavors with fresh insights and novel scientific perspectives.

In addition to her research endeavors, she plays an active role in education, serving as a Lecturer-in-charge for various courses related to animal physiology and nutrition. This has allowed her to share her knowledge and passion with students, contributing to the development of future researchers in the field.

Balancing research and education with institutional and societal roles, such as Head of Department and involvement in governance committees, is essential to her holistic approach to academia. She considers such engagements essential, as they collectively serve as the foundation for meaningful progress, aligning with global societal challenges tackled within the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Her vision and research philosophy on effective research leadership is guided by principles of integrity, open communication and collaboration and equity. These principles not only are integrated within her research unit (Lanupro) but also guide her research interactions with external partners. This approach has earned her the trust of her network and has been key to the success of her research group..