Karine Van Doninck
Karine Van Doninck is an Associate Professor at the University of Namur and founder of the Laboratory of Evolutionary Genetics and Ecology (LEGE). Her research interests integrate molecular genetics, organism evolution, evolution of reproductive modes, comparative genomics and invasive species. As of October 2020 she also holds a full professorship at the ULB. There, she is starting a new research group focusing on Molecular Biology & Evolution. She has received several prestigious grants and is coansidered a leading figure in her field. Van Doninck also has a keen interest in contemporary art and founded the arts initiative DRUUM in Brussels.
Her pioneering research is mainly focused on an evolutionary anomaly, the rotifers. Rotifers are tiny multicellular animals less than a millimeter in size that are abundant in mosses in gardens and lichens on trees. Rotifers have been evolving on our planet for at least sixty million years. Researching them is important for cancer research: “Rotifers are a kind of living cancer with cells that appear to avoid cell death and continue to divide uncontrollably.”
In addition, rotifers are astronauts! They have been sent to space as part of a European Space Agency project. Are you wondering why? Attend and&, listen to Van Doninck, and discover the answer!