Now, that’s what they call a milestone: The3DLab got to celebrate its very first PhD, this week. Charly Géron successfully defended his thesis on plant invasions in urban environments!
The defence brought us on a cold and sunny winter solstice to Gembloux in Wallonia, southern Belgium, his home university. There, we could have a covid-beaten version of an in-person defence, where he walked us skillfully through the many investigations he performed to get to the core of that very important question: how are urban environments facilitating plant invasions?
With that, four years of rigorous research comes to a close – a bittersweet feeling lightened up by the fact that I got to wear a toga for the first time! We’re going to miss Charly in the team; the plant expert, the unstoppable pursuer of goals.
He has made our lab a better lab, and contributed to the worlds’ knowledge: indeed, non-native species from warm origins preferably invade urban environments in Western Europe, while their cool counterparts stick to the countryside. Interestingly, they all suffer when it gets warm, though, a bit of an unexpected find. Finally, it turns out there are some signs of local adaptation to urban conditions, yet mostly there is a lot of plasticity (plants just ‘changing shape’ when conditions shape), and environmental maternal effects (mother plant performance deciding how they offspring will perform, for example through the size of the seeds).
Charly’s work opened a whole new box of research questions, as all good science should!