My childhood took place in Bilzen where I was born in 1977. I spent my entire school career at St. Lambert's College, graduating in Latin-Greek in 1994. Besides school, my spare time largely revolved around youth organisations (Chiro Bilzen) and competitive cycling (I never made it past 19th place... out of 20 participants. A lot of good will and hard work, but sadly not enough in the way of muscles or talent; a great time all the same!).
After my candidacy for Philosophy in Leuven (where I met my wife), I switched to Law. Following a single candidacy and three licentiate years, I graduated in 2000. During my last year I went on Erasmus with my wife to Bologna, the oldest university in Europe. An unforgettable experience.
While working as a lawyer for FPS Environment for six months, in February 2001 I came across a great opportunity to start working as a legal studies assistant at what is now the BEW Faculty. I have been associated with UHasselt ever since. In 2007 I took my PhD on brownfield development. Formally this took place at KU Leuven, as we didn’t yet have our own Faculty of Law, with Prof. Dr. Kurt Deketelaere as supervisor at KU Leuven and Prof. Dr. Anne Mie Draye as co-supervisor at UHasselt.
Following its foundation, I began my position as professor at the Faculty of Law in 2018. In addition, as of 2011, I have a limited association with Monard Law as a lawyer. My specialisation is environmental law. I have been teaching this subject at the Faculties of Law, BEW and GLW for many years with great enthusiasm and to everyone's satisfaction. In terms of research, I have successfully developed the Environmental Law unit, with which we also form a pillar of the multidisciplinary CMK (Centrum voor Milieukunde / Centre for Environmental Studies). I am currently leading a group of ten PhD students, two project staff members and a postdoc. I have come this far by winning a great many projects and building up an enormous amount of experience with many different funding channels at all levels (EU-Interreg, FWO, Vlir-UOS, Belgian/Flemish/local authorities, other research institutions, companies, international organisations, etc.). My unit and I are also currently involved in four pending Horizon 2020 project applications (one of which as main promoter of the consortium).
I have also gained a great deal of experience in terms of policy. Before becoming an assistant professor, I was the elected AAP/BAP representative on the Board of Directors for two years. In that capacity, I set up an AAP/BAP Council and provided representation on the Education Council. Since 2011, I have led the research group CORe (Centrum Overheid en Recht / Centre for Government and Law) at the Faculty of Law and I am a member of the Research Council (and Bureau) of UHasselt. On 1 December 2016, I became Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Law. As of last year, I am also a member of the Statutory Advisory Committee. In all of these places I always try to make sure progress is made working together.
It is on the basis of these years of past and current educational, research and policy experience that I feel keenly aware of where our needs lie, what our ambitions may be and what needs to change. I have built up a solid network, both internationally and in the European Union as well as within Belgium/Flanders/Limburg. When necessary, I have also ventured to establish a network myself (I am one of the three co-founders of the largest European network of environmental lawyers, the European Environmental Law Forum).
We are currently facing enormous societal challenges and universities are the best place for our world to find guidance. Brimming with energy, full of ideas, and above all a lot of passion, I would very much like to work with you to make UHasselt 2030 a top university.
I am proud of our university!
Wanda Guedens is a (bio)chemist and a professor at the Department of Chemistry within the Faculty of Sciences of Hasselt University since 2015. In 1999, she obtained her PhD in Sciences in the field of Chemometrics. She is a coordinating supervisor/co-titular for course units in General Chemistry, Inorganic Chemistry, Biochemistry and Chemistry Teaching Methodology in the Chemistry, Biology, Commercial Engineering, Biomedical Sciences, Medicine, Industrial Engineering and the Educational Master’s programmes.
Wanda Guedens was chair of the chemistry department during the period 2002-2009 and has been Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Sciences since 2016.
She leads multidisciplinary research in biochemical and biomedical nanotechnology in the Biomolecule Design Group (subgroup of the research group Materials Chemistry at UHasselt). More specifically, this research covers the joint core competence domains 'innovative materials for health' and 'advanced medical diagnostics' at the Institute for Materials Research and the Biomedical Research Institute at UHasselt. The focus is on the site-specific modification of (nanobody) proteins for an oriented and covalent coupling on functionalised substrates such as silicon, conjugated polymers, (nano-) diamonds, graphene and nanoparticles using 'click' chemistry for innovative biosensing. Furthermore, (nanobody) proteins are coupled to polymer-based drugs or imaging labels in order to develop hybrid materials that can be used in other health-related applications such as controlled drug delivery and image-guided surgery, respectively.
Wanda Guedens has a strong track record in university teacher training, STEM issues and project management of innovative teaching and research projects in an academic environment. As a lecturer of chemistry teaching methodology, i.e. as part of the teacher training program UHasselt/tUL (2002-2007) she gained on-the-job experience in secondary education. In close cooperation with the then Dean of Science and faculty colleagues, she established and expanded a 'Schools Network' alongside and including secondary schools.
In addition to her great commitment to education and educational innovation, her focus is on attracting students through projects and the organisation of various activities for a network of teachers. Her knowledge and expertise from the former teacher training programme were recently also used in order to prepare and roll out the educational Master's programme in Science & Technology at UHasselt. As part of the growth plan for our university, she is helping to prepare the new Master's programme in Materiomics.
Ken Haenen is a material physicist and the current chair of the Department of Physics within the Faculty of Science at Hasselt University. He obtained his doctorate in 2002, and after six years as a postdoctoral researcher at the FWO, including a postdoctoral period in Tsukuba, Japan, at the NIMS, he was appointed tenure track lecturer in 2008. He has been a full professor since 2019. Ken Haenen is also a guest professor at IMEC, and Director of the Doctoral School of Sciences & Technology since 2016. He was involved in the creation of this DS and started as Vice-Director in 2012. In 2013 he became President of the Department of Physics (8 months), followed by a period of 3 years as Vice-Dean of Science (2013-2016), immediately followed by again chairing FYS.
He is the coordinating supervisor for the subjects of Biophysics, Electromagnetism, Advanced Measurement Methods, Solid State Physics, and International School (for Physics), within the Biology, Chemistry, and Physics courses. Whereas the current OPOs are all part of the Faculty of Science, in the past he has also provided courses within the BEW and GLW faculties as well as the School for Mobility.
Since 2004, he has led the research group “Wide Band Gap Materials (WBGM)” within the Institute for Materials Research (imo-imomec), where his research interests focus on CVD diamond, including deposition, opto-electronic characterisation, surface functionalisation, and diamond-based devices as part of a broader scope examining carbon materials for power generation and conversion. He is also Editor-in-Chief of the magazines Diamond and Related Materials and MethodsX (Materials Science), and is a member of the editorial board of Scientific Reports and Physica Status Solidi. He is involved in the organisation of several leading international diamond and nanocarbon conferences, the International Conference on Diamond and Carbon Materials (Chair), Hasselt Diamond Workshop (Co-Chair), and New Diamond and Nano Carbons (Executive Committee).
In addition to the aforementioned internal policy positions, including membership of the executive committee of imo-imomec since 2010, and four years on the Research Council, Ken Haenen has experience with various university bodies, including the Science Policy Committee of the VRWI (lasting three years until the VRWI was disbanded), the Subgroup Doctoral Schools of the VLIR (since 2013), and the Space (Research) Working Group of VARIO. He is also regularly consulted as an "External Reviewer" for research and education consortia abroad. As part of the growth plan for our university, he is helping to prepare the new Master's programme in Materiomics.