The possibility to directly interact with researchers from all over Europe introduces the students in the herpetological world already during their education

Pim Arntzen

Naturalis Leiden, the Netherlands


The research interests of Pim Arntzen are in Systematics, Biogeography and Evolutionary Biology, to which he mostly employs European amphibians as study objects. Some of his work has a taxonomic basis, including revisions of Cave Salamanders (genus Proteus), Newts (genus Triturus) and Midwife Toads (genus Alytes). He is also working on the expression of master control (Hox) genes in Triturus newts, with Prof. M. Richardson at the Biological Institute of Leiden University. Another interest is in Biogeography and Hybrid Zones. A current focus of his work is on the effect of the quality of the terrestrial habitat on dispersal / gene-flow in metapopulations of pond-breeding toads.

David Gower

Natural History Museum London, UK


David Gower co-leads with Mark Wilkinson the Herpetology Research Group of the Natural History Museum of London. He is primarily an evolutionary and systematic biologist with a particular focus in collections-based organismal biology. Taxonomically his work is focused on caecilian amphibians and burrowing and aquatic snakes, but with substantial expertise also in Triassic archosaurs. He is a member of the IUCN Amphibian Specialist Group, Editor for snakes and caecilians for the journal Zootaxa, and Editor-in-Chief of the UK Systematics Association. He has published more than 100 research papers, on topics as varied as palaeontology, phylogenetics, ecology, anatomy, biogeography, reproductive biology and conservation.

Kim Roelants

Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium


Kim Roelants focused his PhD and early postdoctoral research on phylogenetic and biogeographical patterns of diversification in amphibians. He is now complementing his expertise in phylogenetics with transcriptome, peptidome and genome analyses to explore the evolution of antimicrobial and anti-predatory skin toxins. During a three-month visit at the lab of Bryan Fry, Kim participated in the transcriptome screening of toxin glands of over 30 venomous species spread across the Animal Kingdom, including frogs, snakes and lizards. The results of these analyses have been published in journals as diverse as PNAS, Current Biology and PLoS Genetics.

New professor coming soon

Raoul Van Damme

Antwerp University, Belgium


The research of Raoul Van Damme covers a wide range of topics in organismal biology, featuring lizards as main study organisms. He has published over 100 papers on the ecology, morphology, physiological ecology, behavior and evolution of reptiles and amphibians in international journals. He is member of the editorial boards of the journals Functional Ecology and Oecologia. He teaches courses in evolutionary biology, phylogeny, ecological morphology and herpetology at the University of Antwerp, Belgium.

Mark Wilkinson

Natural History Museum London, UK


Mark Wilkinson co-runs with David Gower the Herpetology Research Group of the Natural History Museum of London, with a special focus on the biology of caecilian amphibians and other burrowing reptiles and amphibians. He is a member of the IUCN Amphibian Specialist Group, and world leader in both research and graduate student training in the systematics and biology of caecilian amphibians with internationally recognised expertise in morphological and molecular phylogenetics. Together with David Gower, he has supervised 16 PhD students and published more than 200 research papers, many in highly regarded journals, on topics including palaeontology, mitogenomics, phylogenetic method- ologies, ecology, reproductive biology and conservation.

Franky Bossuyt

Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium


Franky Bossuyt is the head of Amphibian Evolution Lab and the initiator of this Master program in Herpetology. He described several new frog species and genera, and co-discovered the purple frog, a frog that belongs to a new family. He's interested in the use of molecular phylogenies to elucidate evolutionary patterns, and the processes that produce them, in amphibians. He considers science to become real fun with an integrative approach, in which tempo and mode of evolution are linked to biogeography, speciation, morphological diversification, or biochemical communication. He has published multiple herpetological papers in high-ranking journals such as Nature, Science, and PNAS.

Philippe Kok

Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium


Philippe Kokʼs primary expertise is systematics and taxonomy. He has over 16 years of experience conducting field research in the Neotropics, having led numerous expeditions in northern South America, mostly in previously unexplored areas. He notably received extensive funding from the Belgian Development Cooperation to train Guyanese students in field herpetology, taxonomy and para-taxonomy. He published more than 35 peer-reviewed papers, including a book on the taxonomic study of amphibians, and described more than 20 new taxa, including new genera and a new family.

New professor coming soon

Ines Van Bocxlaer

Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium


Ines Van Bocxlaer is a postdoctoral researcher at the FWO (Fund for Scientific Research - Flanders). She has worked extensively on historical diversification patterns, with special interest for amphibians of the Indian subcontinent. She recently expanded her research towards understanding biogeographic patterns not only from external factors (climate, land bridges, ...), but also from intrinsic characteristics of amphibians. She is fine-tuning this line of research by combining molecular physiology with patterns of dispersal and diversification.

Miguel Vences

Technische Universität Braunschweig, Germany


Miguel Vences has a long-standing interest in amphibians and reptiles and has mostly worked on the systematics, biogeographic origins, patterns of speciation and natural history of the herpetofauna of Madagascar. He has published over 330 papers, several of them in high-ranking journals such as Nature, Science, PNAS, Systematic Biology or Trends in Ecology and Evolution. His taxonomic work includes by now the description of over 100 species of amphibians previously unknown to science. Vences has been and is teaching courses in evolutionary biology, molecular phylogenetics, and amphibian and reptile biology that have regularly been positively evaluated by the participating students.

Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Pleinlaan 2 - 1050 Brussels

Tel : +32-2-6293648

E-mail: franky.bossuyt@vub.be