Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics

Retiring Prof. Lucas Stal: ‘Water science more important than ever’

27 June 2017

For ten years Lucas Stal has been a special professor in the field of Marine Microbiology at the Institute of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED). This year he will retire and in his honour there is a symposium on marine microorganisms and their contribution to global biogeochemical cycles. During this symposium Prof. Stal will give his farewell address as professor (valedictory speech) in the University Library.

The research of Lucas Stal has focused on the functional diversity and ecology of marine cyanobacteria and other micro-algae in the past, present and future. He obtained his PhD in microbial ecology from the University of Groningen and since that time he has continued to work on microbial mats that are responsible for the greening of beaches on Schiermonnikoog, one of the Dutch islands.  Due to the development of new molecular techniques this so called ‘Greenbeach’ project is still ongoing, as more and more questions were asked and answered. At the moment Lucas Stal is still working on a few last publications of this project that lasted his entire academic career.

Special chair Marine Microbiology

Besides being head of the department of Marine Microbiology at the Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ), Lucas Stal was appointed Special Chair Marine Microbiology at the UvA in 2007. Since then he worked on several large projects such as  optimizing algae production for biofuel (InteSusAl) and nitrogen cycles in the North Sea (NICYCLE). One of his career highlights was his work for the European project MaCuMBA, aimed at the discovery of new marine micro-organisms with high potential for biotechnological applications. Lucas Stal: 'I thoroughly enjoyed coordinating this project, involving 22 research partners in 11 countries, at the frontier of marine microbiology. The project was successfully concluded in 2016, with a conference in Berlin and the publication of a book.' Below you can find a short movie following Lucas Stal during the MaCuMBA Summer School in Texel.

In his position as Special Chair at the UvA, Lucas Stal was also able to take up teaching again - something he has always very much enjoyed. Stal coordinated a course Marine Microbiology, was responsible for developing the new course in Biological Oceanography and supervised numerous PhD candidates, the last two of which will finish their thesis in the coming year.

Future plans

After his retirement, Lucas Stal is planning to take on the world in new ways by becoming the photographer he secretly always wanted to be. Even though he will leave science, he wishes his colleagues well and stresses the importance of excellent water science in the near future: 'In the coming years, clean drinking water and climate change will be among the biggest challenges the world faces, making water science more important than ever.'

The symposium in honour of Lucas Stal is taking place on Friday, 30 June 2017:

Published by  IBED