Thomas De Bock

Academic Assistant / PhD student

Thomas de Bock 2Thomas De Bock is an assistant working on the subject of microbial ecology of minimally processed plant-based foods in the Food Microbiology and Food Preservation Research Unit, under the supervision of prof. Mieke Uyttendaele, prof. Frank Devlieghere and prof. Liesbeth Jacxsens. He combines his research with educational activities in the field of Food Microbiology, Quality Management and Risk Analysis, and Microbiological Food Safety.

He received an MSc degree in Bioscience Engineering: Food Science and Nutrition in 2019 from Ghent University in Belgium. In August 2019, he joined the FMFP research unit as a PhD student/assistant.

Thomas’s research interests lie in the field of food safety and microbial ecology of minimally processed plant-based foods. Previously, he studied the food safety risks related to the use of B. thuringiensis as a microbial control agent in the primary production of fresh produce.

Currently, his PhD research relates to the investigation of both benefits and risks associated with the indigenous microbiota of minimally processed plant-based foods. Therefore, the indigenous microbiota is studied as a potential source of human (opportunistic) pathogens versus a potentially protective factor against the persistence and proliferation of human pathogens. Both standard culture methods, as well as molecular methods, are used to gather knowledge on the composition and diversity of the microbial community of plant-based foods and its potential growth stimulating or inhibitory effect on human pathogens. Within this framework, it is acknowledged that there is an increasing group of vulnerable people in the society (young, older, pregnant, immunocompromised) which should be taken into account in ensuring food safety and public health. Finally, the output of this PhD should support evidence-based decision-making on dealing with human (opportunistic) pathogens in the microbiome of minimally processed plant-based foods.

In 2019, he won the Research Paper Award for best poster issued by the International Committee on Food Microbiology and Hygiene (ICFMH) at the 24th Belgian Society for Food Microbiology (BSFM) Conference in Brussels.

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Thomas De Bock