Dynamic Energy Budgets in Biological, Environmental & Economic Systems

Joint Research & Education Program: DEBbee


The research program aims to develop a theoretical framework that unifies biological, environmental and economic systems, using the Dynamic Energy Budget (DEB) theory on metabolic organisation as starting point, including its thermodynamic, physical and chemical aspects. By making use of properties that these systems have in common, and working out fundamental differences between these systems, the program aims to contribute to the further developments of a sound theoretical framework for each of them and to stimulate exchange of expertise.


Vrije Universiteit (Amsterdam): Department of Theoretical Biology

The department has created and further developed the DEB theory and its many applications over 30 years of research. The emphasis is on the applications of mathematics in biology, with due attention for physical and chemical aspects. The group that is presently involved in the collaboration is prof. dr. S.A.L.M. Kooijman, dr. B.W. Kooi, dr. D.T. Jager, prof. dr. J. van der Meer.

Instituto Superior Técnico (Lisboa): Environment and Energy Section

The Environment and Energy Section (SAE) has the aim of promoting teaching, research and development activities, regarding environmental protection, optimal management of energy resources and sustainable development. SAE integrates members of the Department of Mechanical Engineering of Instituto Superior Técnico, within several research units, addressing the following scientific areas: Thermodynamics, Environmental Science and Technology, Development Planning and Policy. The group that is presently involved in the collaboration is dr. T. Domingos, Ms. T. Sousa, G. Marques.


DEB tele-course

The international DEB tele-course has been organised since the Vrije Universiteit uses the educational software package BlackBoard. The international tele-courses have been given in 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011 on the basis of the book on DEB theory. T. Domingos has been member of the advisory board of this course, and organized local sessions with a group in Lisboa, in parallel with similar session in Amsterdam by Kooijman. The DEB tele-course, as well as the DEBtox tele-course, are part of the education program of the Netherlands Research School for the Socio-Economic and Natural Sciences of the Environment (SENSE). Our collaboration will allow students to participate in other courses organized by SENSE. The Institute of Environmental Sciences Leiden (CML) also participates in SENSE and organizes courses (cf the research collaboration with CML below).

Master's and doctoral training

We plan to promote the exchange of master students and we will apply for Socrates support for the students involved. We will also apply to the Marie Curie host driven actions for support in the research training of students in the various phases of their study. We will explore the potential for a joint master's and doctoral program. We will seek approval for double doctoral degrees to enhance this collaboration. We will collaborate on the development of educational material in the form of study guidance, software, exercise collections, etc.



Interaction between Domingos and Kooijman occured several times, in the form of invited lectures by both of them on complementary topics in the same session, in the following symposia Co-workers in the collaboration (Sousa, Rodrigues, Mota, Troost, Kooi, Kuijper, Marques, Teixeira, Saraiva) also contributed to some of these symposia.

Exchange information on web

The research projects as well as the education interactions are described at the web site, with info on its implementation within a wider research effort on DEB theory and its applications in various fields (ecotoxicology, biodegradation, biotechnology, aquaculture, pest control, climate change, sustainable development, computer games). The site sports the electronic laboratory for research on DEB theory, and offers free downloading of software, papers and educational material (quizzes, slides, excersizes, question & answer collections, essays, guidance for the book on DEB theory).

Project: Dynamics of exploitation systems

This project was in the period 1994 - 2000 by T. Domingos. In this period the collaboration started on the thermodynamic aspects of life and on population and ecosystem dynamics. The collaboration included extended work visits of T. Domingos in Amsterdam (1999/06, 2000/03, 2002/07, 2004/03, 2004/09). Kooijman took part in the opposition in Lisboa in 2001.

Project: Thermodynamic analysis of environmental systems

This project is running from 2003 - 2006 by Ms. T. Sousa. This project is supervised by T. Domingos and S.A.L.M. Kooijman. This collaboration includes several extended work visits by both Ms T. Sousa and T. Domingos to Amsterdam (up to now 2004/03, 2004/10, 2005/03). A paper has been submitted for publication on a method to quantify the entropy of living biomass with a variable chemical composition. We believe that this contribution is fundamental and significant.

Project: Dynamics of synthesising units

This project is running from 2002 - 2007 by J. Rodrigues. This project is supervised by T. Domingos and S.A.L.M. Kooijman. This collaboration includes several extended work visits by both J. Rodrigues and T. Domingos to Amsterdam (2004/09, 2005/04-08).

Plans for further collaboration

Exchange of postdocs
We plan to apply to the Marie Curie Program to support post docs for extended work visits to both institutions within the framework of this research program.
Netherlands Centre for Environmental Modelling
With project Biomass (which stands for ``Biomathematical Assessments'') the dept of Theoretical Biology participates in the Netherlands Center for Environmental Modelling (NCEM). This center also includes the Department Industrial Ecology of the Institute of Environmental Sciences Leiden (CML). The Environment and Energy Section has ongoing collaboration with CML (Ferrão & Huppe) on life cycle issues for chemical compounds and products.
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