At the end of January 2016, chemist Jasper Lefevere will be presenting his doctoral research. A few months later, he hopes to excel at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Jasper, what is your doctoral research at VITO about?

The past four years, I have researched suitable carrier materials for heterogeneous catalysts and I have researched how 3D printing can improve the architecture of porous materials, as well as evaluated the results economically. Through an FWOgrant I am connected to the Chemistry department at the University of Antwerp (UA), but I have conducted almost all of my research at VITO in Mol. It was no more than logical. At VITO, I could rely on a lot of expertise in my research domain and I was offered the opportunity to work on innovative applications. At the end of September 2015, our research group applied for a patent for a new design technique. It is still too early to reveal the details, but it is something I am very proud of.

How do you experience the combination of doctoral research and top sport?

The combination is rewarding, but not easy. These last few years, I have constantly lived according to my schedule. Ever since the qualification campaign for the Olympics started in June 2014, my sporting life has been incredibly busy: training camps abroad alternated with competitions, weekly training sessions with the judo federation in Nazareth, Antwerp, Leuven and my home base Moorsele ... Thankfully, I have a very understanding advisor at the UA and this kind of doctoral research allows for a flexible schedule. I conducted the better part of my lab research during the fi rst two years of my doctoral studies. In the last year-and-a-half, I’ve focused most of my time on writing research texts. I can also do that abroad.

What does your schedule look like for the coming months?

At the end of January, I will be presenting my doctoral research. That is my first goal. My second goal is qualifying for Rio de Janeiro. Four years ago, I just failed to make it to the Olympics in London. Now I want to do all I can to qualify. Currently, I hold 35th place on the Olympic ranking, just qualifying me for the Olympics. I want to do everything to consolidate that place, by gathering points at international tournaments. Starting in February, I will focus completely on judo and do the best I can in Rio. I am hoping to get a professional contract at Sports Flanders (the former BLOSO, ed.) No matter what happens, I will continue to be active as a judoka and I will continue using my experience as a scientific researcher and my doctorate.

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