Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Room 7F414
Pleinlaan 2
1050 Brussels | Belgium


I am a scientific collaborator working on external policy-related projects as well as a PhD. After finishing a Master in Environmental Biology at the VUB and a one-year specialization at the KULeuven, I have worked on projects involving biomonitoring using freshwater diatoms in low-order streams and the implementation of ecological surveillance for the European Water Framework Directive.

For monitoring purposes, I have been specializing in phytobenthos, phytoplankton, macrophytes, zooplankton and macro-invertebrates. Most of my research has been devoted to ponds, streams and a canal in the Brussels-Capital Region, a study area that at first might seem somewhat confined when studying biological processes, but nonetheless harbors a surprising, valuable diversity of aquatic landscapes. In one of the projects, I harmonized and fine-tuned biomonitoring protocols intended to fit this urban context, meet the requirements of the European Water Framework Directive, and check for opportunities under Natura 2000.

For the research oriented at gaining more fundamental insights, I study submerged macrophyte dynamics, fitness and propagule production in response to environmental and biotic stressors.

In parallel with my passion for creatures great and small comes a concern about the current and future state of the environment, which I experience as a good stimulant being a tiny cog in the wheelwork of nature conservation.

Van Onsem S. & L. Triest, 2015.  Integration of ecological monitoring protocols for ponds in the Brussels-Capital Region – Streamlining of methodologies for Water Framework Directive, Habitats Directive and Cyanobacterial surveillance. Rapport, VUB, 126 pp.

Triest L., I. Stiers & S. Van Onsem, 2015. Biomanipulation as a nature-based solution to reduce cyanobacterial blooms. Aquatic Ecology, 10.1007/s10452-015-9548-x.

Van Onsem S. & L. Triest, 2014. Diatomeeën als bio-indicatoren in kleine waterlopen in Halle – ecologische en fysisch-chemische kwaliteit in 2012. Rapport, VUB, 44 pp.

Van Onsem S., J. Breine & L. Triest, 2014. De ecologische kwaliteit van waterlopen, kanaal en vijvers in het Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest in 2013. Fytoplankton, fytobenthos, macrofyten, macro-invertebraten & vissen. Rapport, VUB/INBO, 113 pp.

De Backer S., S. Van Onsem & L. Triest, 2010. Influence of submerged vegetation and fish abundance on water clarity in peri-urban eutrophic ponds. Hydrobiologia 656, 255-267.

Van Onsem S., S. De Backer & L. Triest, 2010. Microhabitat–zooplankton relationship in extensive macrophyte vegetations of eutrophic clear-water ponds. Hydrobiologia 656, 67-81.