Olivier Habimana

Associate Professor

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    Research activity per year

    Personal profile


    My achievements in the areas of food and environmental microbiology research have allowed me to explore microbial communities on abiotic surfaces, bridging the areas of food safety and water safety as it relates to the water-food-energy-nexus. I have emerged as an established scientist within the biofilm research community based on my significant contributions in the broad topic area of microbial ecosystems on inert surfaces, focusing on microbial biofilms, from the investigation of initial bacterial adhesion onto surfaces to finally, biofilm detachment. I’ve also, in recent years, placed much emphasis on developing multispecies biofilm models to be used for fundamental and applied research.

    As part of the environmental biofilm research axis, my team will be evaluating the bioaccumulated levels of pollutants within sampled freshwater and benthic biofilm communities from freshwater environments.  In the short term, the knowledge acquired from this project will allow the comparison of microbial diversity, abundance, and functional and gene expression profiles between benthic biofilm communities and corresponding water samples from the same freshwater environment sites as determined by their level of pollution. Moreover, in the mid-to-long term, this study will allow targeted fundamental research programs focusing on biofilms' reactivity to key pollutants using engineered biofilm systems to be developed in my lab, as well as studying pollution impacts on freshwater benthic communities elsewhere in the world. This area of research is relevant to furthering our understanding of the link between biofilms and water quality meant for agricultural activities and, ultimately, food/produce safety.

    Concerning the food processing/food safety research axis, my lab will also be involved in the microbiological surveying of food contact surfaces used during food processing. We aim to profile the microbial communities and isolate and identify various strains of microbes from multiple food processing industries and markets. The combined next-generation sequencing with integrated -omics analysis approach to be used will prove to be helpful in the study of other non-foodborne and foodborne pathogens isolate alike, and in the longer term, will help establish a library of a unique database to be used in the context of future epidemiological investigations. This study should serve as a basis for a larger-scale review of current hygienic practices during food processing in Southeast Asia to improve food safety and public health. In a broader perspective, the lessons learned can also be applied on a broader global scale, in which food contact surface sampling can be performed globally, garnishing a wealth of information on the hygienic situation of different regions of the world, linking climate, socio-economic, infrastructural and other key drivers in the analysis of food processing microbiota. 

    Group Website: http://thehabimanalab.com

    Research Interests



    Microbial Ecology;

    Food microbiology;

    Food Safety

    Research Group

    Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

    In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

    • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
    • SDG 6 - Clean Water and Sanitation
    • SDG 15 - Life on Land


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