I obtained my MSc in bio-engineering at Gent University, and investigated biocontrol of root-feeding nematodes by soil-borne fungi. I discovered my passion for research and obtained a PhD degree at Utrecht University, focusing on the role of soil fauna in the restoration of grassland biodiversity. Thereafter I performed research in Canada, the UK and The Netherlands, with the goal to better understand the coupling between plant traits, plant diversity, soil biodiversity and soil functioning. My ultimate aim is to be able to predict from (remotely sensed) plant traits how nutrient cycling can be steered to achieve higher nutrient use efficiency and produce more nutritious crops, reduce greenhouse gas emissions from soil and suppress the build-up of pests and diseases. In 2011 I joined Wageningen University & Research to develop this research line further; in 2016 I was promoted to Professor in Soil Ecology.
Combatting world hunger requires major breakthroughs. New systems based on other ways of cultivating and processing food. This is the only way we can continue to change the living conditions in developing countries. But such a major shift could perhaps begin with something very small, even microscopically small. Gerlinde and her team are taking part in the Fundamental Change campaign of Wageningen University and Research to break new ground.