Francis Berghmans was born in Ukkel, Belgium in 1969. In 1992 he graduated (magna cum laude) as academic engineer with title “Burgerlijk Werktuigkundig-Elektrotechnisch ingenieur, voorkeurrichting Toegepaste Natuurkunde” at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB). In 1998 he obtained his PhD in Applied Sciences at VUB with a thesis entitled “Implementing Photonic Sensing in Nuclear Environments: from device-level case studies to dedicated system construction”. This doctoral degree was granted with summa cum laude and congratulations of the jury.
From 1992 to 1993 he served as teaching assistant at the Department of Applied Physics at VUB and was in charge of the practical classes on electromagnetism and on quantum physics for the 2nd year engineering science students. After a stay as visiting scientist at the Centre d’Etudes Nucléaire de Saclay (France) of the Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique (CEA), he joined the Studiecentrum voor Kernenergie – Centre d’Etude de l’Energie Nucléaire (SCK·CEN, Belgian Nuclear Research Centre) to start his PhD research in collaboration with VUB.
After his PhD graduation F. Berghmans was appointed leader of the Photonics section, which was part of the Instrumentation Department at SCK·CEN. In 2002 he was promoted Head of the Instrumentation Department of SCK·CEN. He managed the research and development activities of 13 collaborators of which 3 PhDs en 2 academic engineers. From 2006 onwards he was appointed Head of the Advanced Reactor Instrumentation Group counting 18 collaborators. At that time he also supervised 3 PhD thesis students. F. Berghmans managed an annual budget of about 1.6 MEURO.
As head of department he supervised multidisciplinary research on the applications of advanced photonic technologies in nuclear environments. He managed many research projects funded by: the Fusion Programme of the European Commission – EURATOM as part of the development of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor – ITER; the European Space Agency – ESA; and Suez-Tractebel-Electrabel. He also managed the irradiations of devices and materials upon request from industry and research institutes, such as for example the gamma and neutron irradiations of photonic and electronic devices for the Large Hadron Collider of CERN. In 2005 he was appointed coordinator of the bilateral SCK·CEN-CEA “Joint Instrumentation Laboratory” that gathered the R&D capacities of both institutes in the field of nuclear instrumentation.
In parallel and since 1999 F. Berghmans served as part-time Guest Professor at VUB, in the Department of Applied Physics and Photonics. He lectured on “Physics of Optical Materials and Structures” and on “Optical Sensors”.
As of 1 September 2007 F. Berghmans took a permanent position at VUB, in the Department of Applied Physics and Photonics. He was appointed Full Professor on 1st October 2011. He is now member of the Brussels Photonics Team (B-PHOT) and is currently supervising 1 FWO postdoctoral fellow and 5 PhD students (of which 1 FWO PhD fellow), that are part of his research team on micro-structured optical fibres and sensors. This team is exploiting the unique features of micro-structured optical waveguides to achieve unprecedented optical functionalities in the domain of optical fibre sensors and optical fibre lasers.
F. Berghmans holds an important academic teaching duty as he is in charge of the introductory physics course (9 ECTS) on “Waves and Electromagnetism” for the 1st Bachelor year in Engineering Sciences, 1st Bachelor year in Physics and Astronomy and 2nd Bachelor year in Mathematics. He is also still teaching the course on “Optical Sensors” (4 ECTS) as part of the interuniversity (VUB – Universiteit Gent) “Master of Science in Photonics Science and Engineering” and of the “Erasmus Mundus Master of Science in Photonics”.
At VUB he is representing the faculty of Engineering as substitute member of the Onderzoeksraad (OZR), as full member of Stuurgroep Genderactieplan (GAP). He is member of the Facultaire Public Relation Commissie and of he “Brussels Wind Energy Research Institute – BruWind”.
F. Berghmans has acquired substantial expertise in collaborative research in a European context and has built an extended scientific network. He is deputy coordinator of the European Union’s 7th Framework Programme for Research and Development (EU FP7) Integrated Project “Access Center for Photonics Innovation Solutions and Technology support - ACTPHAST”. He is VUB promoter and responsible for the dissemination activities in the targeted project “Versatile Easy installable Connector implementing new Technologies for accelerated fibre Optic network Roll-outs in Europe - VECTOR ” (EU FP7). He is work package leader and member of the Executive Board of the coordination and support action “Access To Micro-Optics Expertise, Services and Technologies – ACTMOST ” (EU FP7). He is VUB promoter of the Marie Curie IAPP “Intelligent amputee sockets employing real time advanced photonic sensors for optimum fit and pressure relief through active controls – SMARTSOCKET ” (EU FP7). He was coordinator of the targeted project “Photonic Skins for Optical Sensing - PHOSFOS ” (EU FP7). He was deputy work package leader in the “Network of Excellence - Photonics4Life” (EU FP7) and work package leader in het “Network of Excellence on Micro-Optics – NEMO” (EU FP6) and also served on the Executive Board of this network. F. Berghmans was secretary, grant holder and working group leader of the COST 270 action “Reliability of Optical Components and Devices in Communications Systems and Networks”. He was co-founder of and vice-chair of the COST 299 action “Optical Fibres for New Challenges Facing the Information Society”. He now serves on the Management Committee of COST TD1001 “Novel and Reliable Optical Fibre Sensor Systems for Future Security and Safety Applications”. F. Berghmans also serves on the European Advisory Committee, on the Symposia Committee and on the Fellows Nomination Committee of SPIE (International Society for Optics and Photonics).
F. Berghmans has authored/co-authored 88 Web of Science indexed journal publications and 147 Web of Science indexed publications in international conference proceedings. He also authored 6 chapters in scientific monographs and was invited speaker at 12 international conferences. He is co-inventor on 4 patent applications. Click here to access his google scholar profile.
F. Berghmans was member of many scientific and organising committees of international conferences and chaired numerous conference sessions as well. Since 2010, he is general co-chair of SPIE Photonics Europe, the largest symposium in the field of photonics in Europe. F. Berghmans is referee for several scientific journals, including Journal of Lightwave Technology, Photonics Technology Letters, Transactions on Nuclear Science, Optical Engineering, Optics Express, Optics Communications en Measurement Science and Technology. He is member of SPIE, IEEE-Photonics Society, EOS and OSA.
In November 2009 F. Berghmans was elected Fellow of the SPIE. In March 2012, Dr. Thomas Geernaert who is now on his team as FWO post-doc fellow and who he supervised during his PhD research obtained the “Photonics21 Student Innovation Award”, a major and prestigious European recognition in the field of photonics for ground breaking PhD research.
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