Principal Investigators (PIs)

FOCUS gathers Principal Investigators leading research groups devoted to the development of interdisciplinary approaches targeted towards the understanding, characterization, monitoring, prediction and management of freshwater and oceanic systems.

Aida Alvera-Azcárate


Aida Alvera-Azcárate studied Oceanography at the Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, in Spain, where she graduated in 2000. She then obtained the Master in Modelling of the Marine Environment from the Université de Liège in 2001. She obtained her PhD in 2004 from the Université de Liège. She was a Research Associate at the College of Marine Science from the University of South Florida (USA) from 2004 to 2007. She then joined again the Université de Liège as FNRS research associate and has been working in the same institution as researcher since 2012.

She is a specialist in ocean remote sensing. Her research interests include the multivariate and multiplatform (satellite and in situ) study of oceanic processes, to understand how different variables interact in the ocean, and at which spatial and temporal scales. Earth Observation is at the core of her activities, and has been working on the development of techniques to improve the quality of remote sensing data. She is the main developer of DINEOF, a technique to reconstruct missing data in satellite datasets, widely know and used by researchers internationally.

She is associate editor of Remote Sensing of Environment, Ocean Dynamics and Scientia Marina.

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Alberto Vieira Borges

Alberto Borges

Alberto Vieira Borges was born in Portugal in 1972, graduated in Biology from the Université Libre de Bruxelles in 1994, graduated in Oceanology from the Université de Liège in 1996, and obtained his PhD from the Université de Liège in 2001. His research interest is on carbon cycling across aquatic ecosystems (freshwaters, coastal environments, continental shelf seas and open ocean) with an emphasis on the exchange of CO2, CH4 and N2O with the atmosphere. His master thesis and PhD were supervised by Michel Frankignoulle (1957-2005), and in 2005, he became a research associate at the Fonds National de la Recherche Scientifique (promoted Research Director in 2019). During the PhD he worked on CO2 dynamics in European continental shelves (North Sea, English Channel, Bay of Biscay, Iberian coastal), then after on tropical coastal estuaries and mangroves (India, Kenya, Vietnam), and more recently on CH4 and CO2 dynamics in tropical lakes and rivers, in particular in Africa (RDC, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania).

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Krishna Das

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Krishna Das obtained her degree in zoological sciences at the University of Liège (ULiège) in 1996 and a complementary degree in oceanography in 1997. In 1999, she began a doctorate thesis (Laboratory of Oceanology, ULiège), in which she developed more deeply her graduate degree dissertation: the contamination of sea mammals by trace elements. This thesis was funded by the FRIA (Funds for Industry and Agriculture research). In 2003 and 2004 she took part in the Marie-Curie Fellowship Programme helping young researchers’ mobility and carried out a post-doctoral study at the University of Kiel. From December 2004 onwards she was a FNRS post-doc fellow focusing on the toxicity of pollutants on the expression of several biomarkers in marine mammals at the Oceanology Laboratory at the University of Liège. Since the 1st of October, 2008, Krishna Das is the holder of a permanent Research Associate mandate at the FRS-FNRS (Funds for Scientific Research). She has been recently promoted as Senior Research Associate and Associate Professor at the University of Liège. She is now at the head of a research group (WildTox) focusing the research on ecotoxicological, ecological and physiological responses of marine vertebrates facing chemical pollution.

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Jean-François Deliège

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Born in Verviers, Jf Deliège, is a civil Engineer (Electro-mechanics and physics) from University of Liege, also graduated from EIBAL (Enseignt Interuniv. Biomécanique Appareil Locomoteur, BXL). He worked 10 years as research Engineer and Project Manager (program, methodology and database) at the Aquapôle (former the CEME, Centre d’Étude et de Modélisation de l'Environnement, part of the Environmental Centre of the ULiege). Specialised in integrated modelling (numerical integration methodology) - aquatic ecosystem modelling (PEGASE) - river basin modelling - water cycle modelling and Geographical Information Systems, he collaborated in the development of numerous numerical integrated models (SEVEX, SALMON, MOHISE, MOHICAN, PEGASE, PIRENE and other atmospheric dispersion models) in the scope of environmental issues (water cycle, flood, water quality, Impacts of Climate Changes ...).

After his PhD in Applied Science untitled: "Method to integrate models, adapted to multicompartimented hydrological systems", he joined the Department of Biology, Ecology and Evolution (Faculty of Sciences, ULiège). He is Associate Professor at the University of Liège and Invited Lecturer at Univesità di Corsica Pasquale Paoli (Corsica, France) and in HELMo Gramme University college (for Industrial Engineers), Liege, Belgium. 

He is Director of The Aquapôle (Water Research Centre addressing Integrated Water Topics) and head of the PeGIRE research Lab where he develops contributive researches on continental water ecosystems modelling and Water Resource Integrated Management. Through the developments of operational numerical software’s, his activities engage his laboratory in various collaborations with Stakeholders (Ministries, Administrations, Water Agencies ...). He is also board member (Secretary) of the council of scientists (ULiege) and board member (Vice-Director) of the FOCUS Research Centre.

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Mathieu Denoël

Mathieu DENOEL Portrait

Mathieu Denoël studied animal biology at the University of Liège where he obtained his PhD in ecology and animal behavior. He is now Research Director of the Fonds de la Recherche Scientifique (FNRS) and is leading the Laboratory of Ecology and Conservation of Amphibians (LECA) at ULiège. He also serves as President of the European Herpetological Society (SEH). His main research aims at determining the costs and benefits of alternative developmental pathways in amphibians, with a special focus on paedomorphosis and metamorphosis in newts and salamanders. His approach is multidisplinary, especially in behavioural, trophic, dispersal and landscape ecology but also in biogeography, morphology, and genetics. His research integrates both lab experiments in controlled environments and field sampling in a large range of habitats and geographic areas in Europe, North America, and Asia. He is also expert in using video-tracking technologies in behavioural sciences. His research program is embedded in a biological conservation framework to explain adaptation and decline of native species at the inter and intraspecific levels and then to explore not all only amphibians but the whole freshwater communities. In this perspective, a special focus is done on the effects of climate change (drought) and the introduction of invasive alien species (fish and amphibians) on freshwater organisms.

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Étienne Everbecq


Étienne is a civil, physical and environmental engineer. A specialist in environmental modelling, he is at the origin of the development of the Pegase model to which he is still actively contributing.

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Bruno Frederich

Bruno Frederich

Bruno Frédérich, born in Verviers (Belgium), studied zoology at the University of Liège (ULiège, Belgium). After a graduation in Environmental Sciences & Water Technologies (ULiège - FUL), he was recruited as a teaching assistant at ULiège where he received his PhD in Comparative Zoology in 2009. Then, he was appointed as a postdoctoral researcher by the « Fonds de la Recherche Scientifique » (F.R.S.-FNRS) during which he started to explore the diversification of reef fishes in the Lab of Functional and Evolutionary Morphology at ULiège. In 2013, he joined the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) where he developed his expertise in phylogenetic comparative methods. After a two-years post-doc funded by the Belgian Science Policy, he was recruited in 2018 as a lecturer at the Department of Biology, Ecology and Evolution at ULiège. Currently, he is building a team focusing on the dynamics of diversification in fishes. 

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Aline Grard


Aline holds a Master's degree in Geology and a Master's degree in Geophysics and has been active in the PeGIRE lab for more than 15 years.

Her current research work focuses on the behaviour of micro-pollutants in the aquatic environment and will soon result in a PhD thesis.

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Anne Goffart


Anne Goffart graduated in Botanical Sciences (1982) and in Oceanology (1983) from the Université de Liège. She conducted her doctoral research in collaboration with the LPCM (Laboratoire de Physique et Chimie Marines) in Villefranche-sur-Mer (France), and obtained her PhD from the Université de Liège in 1992. She was a Marie Curie post-doc research fellow at the Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn in Naples (Italy) in 1994 and 1995. She then joined again the Université de Liège. Her main research interest is the study of the linkage between climate variation, physical forcing and plankton dynamics on decadal time scales, with an emphasis on phytoplankton communities. During her PhD, she initiated the long-term times series of observations on nutrient and phytoplankton in the Bay of Calvi (Corsica). This time-series, which is still ongoing today, allows to trace the ecosystem variability over decadal scales and to distinguish regular patterns, trends and shifts occurring in the marine coastal environment. Over the years, Anne Goffart developed strong expertise in the field of plankton dynamics in the Southern Ocean, in the Mediterranean Sea and more recently in the Indian Ocean. Some of her current research interests focus on (i) the development of phytoplankton indicators to quantify the impact of anthropogenic pressure and emergent agents of coastal changes on water quality and (ii) the determination of phytoplankton composition from space.

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Marilaure Grégoire

Marilaure Gregoire Picture

Marilaure Grégoire was graduated in 1995 as a civil engineer (mechanics-physics) from the Liege University and obtained in 1999 a PhD in Applied Science on the development of a three-dimensional numerical model of the Black Sea coupling the physics and biogeochemistry. In 2002, with a Marie-Curie fellowship, she performed a 2-year post-doc in the NIOZ, Yerseke, the Netherlands and worked on the development of a biogeochemical model that explicitly represents the continuum of biogeochemical processes along an oxic-anoxic-euxinic water column. In 2015, she became Directeur de Recherches and launched the Modelling for Aquatic SysTems (MAST) research group devoted to the development of numerical models coupling the physics and biogeochemistry for forecasting the marine environment and for understanding how climate (e.g. deoxygenation, warming) and non-climate stressors (e.g. eutrophication) affect marine ecosystems.  She is particularly interested in assessing how data from new in-situ platforms and satellite sensors can be assimilated to improve model performances. MAST is currently involved in various research projects and, for instance, in the Copernicus Marine Environment and Monitoring Service for providing every-day forecasts of the Black Sea biogeochemistry, in Benthox for understanding deoxygenation in the Black Sea, in the BelSPo project FaCE-iT for assessing the impact of wind farms building on seafloor integrity, in the Southern Bight of the North Sea.  Marilaure Grégoire is currently coordinating an ESA research initiative (EO4SIBS) on the use of Earth Observations for supporting marine applications and is co-chairing the Global Ocean Oxygen Network (GO2NE) of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission. She serves as associate editor of Biogeosciences and is member of the Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee of the Copernicus Marine Environment and Monitoring Service.

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Gilles Lepoint

Gilles Lepoint

Gilles Lepoint was born in Belgium in 1972, graduated in Zoology from ULiège in 1994, graduated in Oceanology from ULiège in 1995, graduated for high school teaching from ULiège in 1995, and obtained his PhD (Oceanology) from the Université de Liège in 2001. Gilles Lepoint, permanent researcher (Research Associate) at the FRS-FNRS and associate professor at the University of Liège (ULiège), is a zoologist and marine biologist. He is broadly interested in marine biodiversity, in trophic ecology of animals, in structure and functioning of food webs, and on anthropogenic perturbations of food webs. Most of his work focused on the use of stable isotopes of light biogenic elements (integrative descriptors of consumer diet) to delineate trophic interactions in ecosystems. Gilles Lepoint currently leads the "Stable Isotope in Environmental Sciences and Trophic Ecology" research group (Laboratory of Oceanology, ULiege) and manages University of Liège's stable isotope facility. These facilities, renewed in 2011 and 2020, allow the measurement of C, N and S isotopes ratios in organic matter. During his PhD and his post-doctoral work, he has mainly focused his research on seagrass ecology. In 2006, he has developed a project on the animal communities associated with seagrass macrophytodetritus accumulations. Then, he has been involved in various fundamental research and sustainable development projects in Madagascar (seagrass ecology, reef fish ecology, sea cucumbers and algae farming). More recently (2015), he has integrated two important projects concerning the effects of climate change on benthic communities in the Southern Ocean (Projects vERSO and RECTO, Brain-BE, Belgian Federal Scientific Policy). In 2017, he obtained as main promotor a PDR project, funded by the FNRS (FORESIGHT commission), on black coral ecology and conservation in Madagascar. Since December 2019, he is responsible for UR FOCUS of Belaza station (Toliara, Madagascar) management. Gilles Lepoint is Secretary of Royal Belgian Zoological Society.

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Michael Ovidio

Michael Ovidio

Michael Ovidio obtained a Master degree in Animal Biology and a PhD in Sciences from the University of Liege. He realized a post-doc at the Irstea of Lyon in the Dynam team (Dynamics and Models in Eco-Hydrology).

Michael is now Scientific Expert and Professor and is leading the Laboratory of Fish Demography and Hydro-ecology. His main fundamental research topics are the behavioural ecology (habitat use, migration, behavioural strategies), the population dynamics and the analyze of long-term stock trends of freshwater fish. He also develops applied research on the definitions of scientific bases for the conservation and management of fisheries resources in continental hydro-systems. Michael contributes to find eco-technological solutions (fish passage, downstream bypass…) or management issues (ecological flow, hydropeaking…) to combine the usages of rivers (hydroelectricity, navigation, tourism…) with the protection of the aquatic biodiversity. His research mainly integrates field works in a large range of continental freshwater habitats, but he also sometimes collaborates on studies in estuarine and marine environments. Michael has strong experience in biotelemetry techniques, electric fishing, fish-habitat models and is able to tag a large diversity of fish species by surgery techniques. He is involved as scientific advisor for many non-governmental organizations and agencies and serves as member of the Editorial Board of the International Journal of Limnology.

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Eric Parmentier


Professor Eric Parmentier is the head of the Laboratory of Functional and Evolutionary Morphology. He received his PhD in 2003 before working with Michael Fine (Virginia Commonwealth University) and David Mann (University of South Florida). He obtained a FNRS permanent research position at ULiege in 2007. He became Professor at the University of Liège in 2011. His laboratory has a long tradition in the study of musculo-skeletal systems and favours ecomorphological studies.  Laboratory members use as most as possible multidisciplinary approaches, combining comparative and experimental methods of analysis with studies in the laboratory and in the field to describe and understand at best the relationships between the animal performance, its behaviour and its environment. Eric aims to determine the fundamental components of fish acoustic communication (sound production and hearing) and its evolution. The research approach integrates (functional) morphology, evolutionary history, histology, physiology, behaviour, ontogeny, biogeography as well as physics and acoustics. Moreover, the comparison of taxa living in different environments allows depicting the influence of environmental conditions on sound production. Another research axis aims to elucidate the environmental adaptations (from an ecomorphological point of view) of marine vertebrate (teleosts and marine mammals) by investigating their overall morphology.

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