Jan Soetaert

Research Facilities Manager
 Jan Soetaert


Jan Soetaert is a typical example of a technical professional. He has a seasoned, diverse background in applied biological sciences, agricultural engineering, and a fervent passion for research facility management. Jan's academic odyssey began in Ghent (Belgium),  where he earned his degree in Applied Biological Sciences, followed by a master's in Agricultural Engineering.

In the initial phase of his career, Jan dedicated five years to the dynamic field of aquaculture, focusing on the development of larval fish and shrimp diets. He extended this expertise to establishing factories in Asia and the USA for the harvest and processing of artemia cysts, consulting on artemia products in fish and shrimp farms and showcasing a commitment to advancing sustainable practices in the industry.

Eager to delve deeper into the intricacies of genetics and molecular biology, he took on a technicians position at EMBL in Heidelberg looking after the fruit fly collection for a gene trap screening. Soon after, Jan pursued a Ph.D. at the Wellcome trust Centre (Edinburgh) in Molecular Biology using Drosophila genetics and microscopy to look at mRNA localisation. He later expanded his research horizon with the study of the nervous system development in Zebrafish. This transition marked a pivotal moment sparking a profound interest in microscopy.

With his newfound passion, Jan embarked on a role as a technician at the prestigious Nikon Imaging Centre in King's College London. Here, he honed his skills and contributed significantly to the advancement of imaging technologies. Following this, Jan took charge of his own imaging facility at the Blizard Institute at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) for eight years.

A secondment in the School of Engineering and Material Sciences at QMUL marked a turning point, leading Jan towards a career change in research facility management. Undeterred by challenges, he successfully initiated a similar post in the School of Physical and Chemical Sciences, showcasing his adaptability and leadership qualities.

Jan's journey of professional evolution continued as he embraced the challenge in the Division of Natural Sciences at the University of Kent. Here, he is shaping and developing his role, leading a team of technical professionals responsible for managing diverse facilities and laboratories.

Jan Soetaert's story is one of curiosity, adaptability, and a commitment to advancing scientific research. His wealth of experience spans the realms of aquaculture, genetics, microscopy, and facility management, making him a multifaceted professional that can usually help you out or point you in the right direction.

When you want to talk to him about other things than work, topics that interest him are beekeeping, mushroom foraging and sea angling. 

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