Academic staff

Liesbeth De Donder

Director Research Lab

Liesbeth is head of the SARLab and leads the research line on “Care and caring communities”.

Sarah Dury

Co-director Research Lab

Sarah leads the research line on Social relations and civic participation”.

An-Sofie Smetcoren

Co-director Research Lab

An-Sofie leads the research line "Housing and living environment".

Postdoctoral researchers

Sofie Van Regenmortel

Senior Researcher

Sofie provides statistical support to research projects and conducts research on social exclusion in later life. 

Saloua Berdai

Senior Researcher

Saloua wrote her PhD on dementia care for older people with a migration background. 


Bas Dikmans

PhD Researcher

Bas is a qualitative researcher focusing on civic engagement of older adults in two disadvantaged neighbourhoods in Brussels. 

Hannelore Stegen

PhD Researcher

Hannelore studies loneliness among childless older people.  

Anton Swillens

PhD Researcher

Anton examines the influence of housing on the subjective well-being of older people. 

Toon Vercauteren

PhD Researcher

Toon focuses on civic engagement of older people. He mainly works with quantitative research methods.   

Ariane Vanbellinghen

PhD Researcher

Ariane investigates the relation between housing and wellbeing from a lifecourse perspective.  

Hanne Bakelants

PhD Researcher

Hanne examines the development, implementation, and evaluation of the VUB as a ‘Compassionate University’.  

Suzannah D'Hooghe

PhD Researcher

Suzannah studies the role of the perceived environment on exercise and nutrition behavior in socioeconomically disadvantaged adults. 

Octavia Kint 

PhD Researcher

Octavia is action researcher on the topic of caring communities in Brussels. 

Freya Häussermann

PhD Researcher

Freya examines the influence of neighbourhood and environment on multidimensional adult loneliness.

Ann Claeys

PhD Researcher

Ann is working on enhancing the competencies of healthcare providers in the field of diversity.

Pamela Suero

PhD Researcher

Pamela researches ageist barriers to policy reform related to ageing well in place, and policy change for advancing social and spatial justice in our ageing world.

Luise (Lu) Stoisser

PhD Researcher

Luise is studying residential relocation in later life and its effects on social exclusion, looking at alternative housing systems as a potential way to mediate negative relocation outcomes.

Administrative staff

Lieselot Degraeve

Knowledge valorisation officer 

Lieselot facilitates the non-scientific communication, dissemination and valorisation. 

Affiliated members

Martha Van den Berghe

Voluntary research associate 

Martha is writing her PhD on the relationships between volunteers and employees in public and non-profit organisations. This is a joint-PhD with University of Antwerp as the lead institution

Nathalie Colpin

Voluntary research associate 

Daan Duppen

Voluntary research associate 

Daan wrote his PhD on social environment and vulnerability and collaborated on the D-SCOPE project.

Sylvia Hoens 

Voluntary research associate 

Sylvia wrote her PhD on the potential of health workers and resident migrant workers to address the unmet care needs of older adults.

Lise Switsers 

Voluntary research associate 

Lise wrote her PhD on loneliness among older people, using a lifecourse perspective.  

Deborah Lambotte

Voluntary research associate 

Deborah wrote her PhD on care networks in frail, community dwelling older adults within the D-SCOPE project. Currently, she works as researcher within the research consortium “360° Zorg en Welzijn at University College Hogent, where she continues her research on informal care and care networks. 

Mirte Clerix 

Joint PhD Researcher 

Mirte is currently writing her PhD on the influence of collectivity and housing on the wellbeing of older adults within the HOUSE project. This is a joint PhD with Hasselt University as the main institution. 

Bram Fret 

Voluntary research associate 

Bram wrote his PhD on care and support for older people living at home within the D-SCOPE project. 

Sander Lambrix 

Joint PhD Researcher 

Sander is currently writing his PhD within the HOUSE project. This is a joint PhD with Hasselt University as the main institution. 

Micheline Phlix 

Joint PhD Researcher 

Micheline is currently writing her PhD on 'Ageing in the context of migration: integrating a sense of home & wellbeing in diversity-sensitive housing design'. This is a joint PhD with Hasselt University as the main institution. 

Yasemin Inaç 

Joint PhD Researcher 

Yasemin works on the Civisano-project. This is a joint PhD with Ugent as the main institution. 

Thomas Dawance 

Interdisciplinary PhD-Researcher 

Thomas is currently writing his PhD on the CALICO project. This is an interdisciplinary PhD in collaboration with COSMOPOLIS research group at the VUB.   

Eva Dierckx 


Eva is professor within the department PSYC at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, and is member of the research staff within Alexianen Care group Tienen. Within the SARLab she was promotor of the D-SCOPE project and supervises different PhD-studies on loneliness and psychological wellbeing in later life. 

Sara Marsillas 

Visiting Researcher (Spain) 

Sara wrote her PhD on Active Ageing. Within the Matia Gerontological Institute, she is specialised in research on loneliness among older people and care innovation. 

Lisa Van hove

PhD Researcher

Lisa is working on a PhD on "Suicidal and non-suicidal self-injury in older adults" (supervisor: Prof. Dr. Imke Baetens and Dr. Steven Vanderstichelen). She is also employed as a research assistant at the International Consortium on Self-injury in Educational Settings, member of BRUCC, COCO and is a clinical psychologist.

Fernanda Juma

Visiting Researcher

Fernanda is currently writing her PhD on the implications of demographic ageing in Europe, which includes issues such as social exclusion and loneliness in later life. She is a doctoral researcher at the Department of Quantitative Methods (PHD in Economics: Instruments of Economic Analysis) of the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU).

Tess Hartland

Visiting Researcher 

Tess is a PhD researcher from the University of Manchester exploring how urban environments can support healthy ageing for older refugees and asylum seekers. She is currently conducting qualitative fieldwork in Brussels. 

Joana Salles

Visiting Researcher 

Joana is a PhD researcher from the University of Manchester. Using audio-visual methods, she investigates how older people collectively organise around the urban commons to resist gentrification. 

Alexis Creten

Voluntary research associate 

Alexis worked as action researcher on the Adhzis-project, aiming to create an inclusive, neighbourhood-oriented care model in Schaarbeek. Funded by Innoviris Co-Create.

Honghui Pan

Voluntary research associate 

Honghui investigates the wellbeing and loneliness in older Chinese migrants.