Meet the team

Dr Laura Fernández Celemín Director General
Dr Laura Fernández Celemín

Laura joined EUFIC in 2002 as Scientific Advisor, and has since contributed to the growth of the organisation fulfilling different functions throughout the years. She leads the organisation since January 2015, and passionately believes that the strength of EUFIC are the people who work in it.

Laura has a BSc in Dietetics from Institut Paul Lambin in Brussels, a degree in Human Nutrition from the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium, and a PhD in Biomedical sciences from the same university.

Outside work, Laura enjoys cooking and eating, being active, and spending time with her family and friends.

"Be the change you want to see in the world"

Mahatma Ghandi

Patricia Mawenu Office & Human Resources Manager
Patricia Mawenu

Patricia joined the EUFIC team in March 2016 and takes great pleasure in looking after the office and the team itself, its human resource needs, as well as the event and meeting coordination. Patricia brings with her several years’ experience in HR, office management, client service and administration gained working in areas such as social justice, financial services and public affairs and strategic communications in Brussels.

Patricia has an MBA in Business communication from the International Management Institute in Brussels and a BSc in Quantitative Economics from Makerere University in Kampala.

Outside her work, Patricia enjoys spending time with her family and friends and concocting the next mix of spring flowers for her garden. She also serves as a board member for both the Ugandan Community Group in Belgium and the Kampala Children’s Centre which is a school and orphanage in Uganda.

“Synergy is better than my way or your way. It's our way.”

Stephen Covey

Frédéric Goffard Finances & IT EU/EIT Projects Advisor
Frédéric Goffard

Frédéric uses his financial and tech genius to keep EUFIC’s figures and equipment streamlined and running smoothly. He joined EUFIC in 2012 having previously worked in the various fields of Design (Design Board), IT (Telematics and Services), Solar Panel (Imperbel/Derbigum), Crude Oil and Gaz trading (Fortum Oil) as well as Trade Association/Lobbying (DigitalEurope). Frédéric brings with him a wealth of knowledge in Finance, IT and Belgian legislation.

Frédéric has a BSc in Accounting from the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes Commerciales (EPHEC – Brussels) and followed evening courses in Tax Law and IT.

Besides his professional activities, Frédéric is also the founder and treasurer of two not for profit associations: 'Les Amis de Thierry' (cancer) and the Royal Racing Club de Bruxelles (Field hockey and Tennis Club). You will mostly see him on hockey pitches as a player or referee or behind a nice glass of wine.

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”

Oscar Wilde

Dr Milka Sokolović Head of Food and Health Science
Dr Milka Sokolović

In 2013, Milka made a career turn from conducting to communicating science. She went from investigating the ins and outs of metabolism in an academic setting, to wrapping scientific knowledge into palatable parcels at EUFIC. She now oversees EUFIC’s content production on food and health, where she combines her critical thinking with her flair and passion for communication.

Milka has a degree in Biology from the University of Belgrade, and a PhD in Medicine from the University of Amsterdam, interlaced with fifteen years of research and academic teaching.

Outside EUFIC, she is a food-, books-, kids-, and social justice- aficionado.

Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Dr Sophie Hieke Head of Consumer Science
Dr Sophie Hieke

Since joining EUFIC in 2011, Sophie has been in charge of EUFIC’s Consumer Science department. She also coordinated the EU-funded project on health claims, CLYMBOL. Sophie has specialised in consumer behaviour in the area of food, with a PhD in statistics and empirical research from the Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich. She regularly publishes in peer-reviewed journals, attends conferences and gives talks all over the world on EUFIC research into consumers, food and health. She is also an associate editor at Public Health Nutrition.

In her spare time, Sophie loves to eat – especially cheese.

"Statistics are like bikinis: what they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital.”

Aaron Levenstein.

Nimali Samarasinha Head of Communications
Nimali Samarasinha

Nimali leads EUFIC’s communications team and activities, covering corporate, external and internal communications.

She joined the team in December 2018, bringing over a decade of strategic communications experience with her, as well as a true passion for changing the world through words.

In her previous role at European Climate Foundation in Brussels, she directed the European arm of a global network of communications experts who work to strengthen the public discourse on climate change and its solutions, and acted as a strategic communications advisor to the wider European climate action community.

She holds a Master’s Degree (Distinctions) in International Business Management from the University of West London and a Bachelor’s Degree (Honours) in International Tourism and Travel Management from the University of Brighton.

When away from her desk, you’ll likely find her out in the green discovering nature with her family, experimenting with Sri Lankan spices or playing music with her friends.

"Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less."

Marie Curie

Christina Sadler Senior Manager – Food and Health Science
Christina Sadler

Using her eagle eye in editing, Christina manages EUFIC’s flagship Food Today publication, and coordinates other projects to translate nutrition and health science. She leads the outreach activities of EU projects MyNewGut and RICHFIELDS. Christina joined EUFIC in 2011, after experiences in dietetic practice with the NHS, nutrition policy at the UK’s Food Standards Agency and public affairs at Diabetes UK.

She has a First Class Honours degree in Nutrition from Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, for which she was awarded the Farnsfield medal.

In her spare time, Christina runs half marathons, dances on ice, and plays the accordion.

“The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.”


Dr Nina McGrath Senior Manager – Food and Health Science
Dr Nina McGrath

Nina joined the team in 2015 and manages EUFIC’s food safety activities, as well as leading the dissemination activities for EU projects OLEUM and NanoPack. She has a MSc in chemistry and a PhD in polymer and materials science from the University of Bristol, UK. Before EUFIC, Nina worked as Science Counsellor at Euro Chlor, providing scientific support on health and environmental issues.

Nina enjoys mixing chemicals in the lab, ingredients in the kitchen and is herself a bit of a mix with Danish, Irish and Belgian roots.

“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”

Marie Curie

Raymond Gemen Senior Manager – Food and Health Science
Raymond Gemen

Raymond is a nutritionist with a healthy appetite for being active. His core values are scientific integrity and responsible communication. He joined EUFIC in 2012, after a traineeship at the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre in Ispra, Italy. Raymond’s responsibilities at EUFIC vary from managing projects and junior staff, writing and reviewing science-based content, to participating in scientific events. He currently sits on the advisory board of Voeding Nu (Dutch nutrition magazine for health professionals), and is actively involved in the European Nutrition Leadership Platform (ENLP).

Raymond holds a BSc in Biology from Utrecht University and an MSc in Nutrition and Health from Wageningen University, both in the Netherlands.

If not travelling, Raymond usually spends his free time being active with his family.

Raymond’s life mottos:

"Ask questions and where there’s an elevator, there are stairs!"

Dr Aleksandar Sokolović Senior Manager – Business Development
Dr Aleksandar Sokolović

Since joining in 2015, Aleksandar has focused on helping EUFIC to grow as an organisation. Using his familiarity with both the academic and the commercial world he coordinates the actions to bring more EU-funded projects and other new funding opportunities to EUFIC.

He has a MSc in Biology from the University of Belgrade, and a PhD in Medicine from the University of Amsterdam and a lifetime of experience in vibrant multicultural environments.

Aleksandar, a.k.a. Sasha, is a 24/7 hands-on trouble-shooter, always in search of a new challenge.

“Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.”

Henry Ford

Dr Joanna Kaniewska Senior Manager – Food and Health Science
Dr Joanna Kaniewska

Joanna (AKA Asia) joined EUFIC in January 2018 after gaining various research experience, from nitty-gritty pipetting at the lab bench, through investigating the role of fruit and veg on human health to managing multicentred clinical trials. While nerd at heart, with BSc in Medical Genetics from the University of Huddersfield and a PhD in Medical Sciences from the University of Aberdeen, Joanna’s true passion lays in making science presentable, accessible and understandable to all.

At EUFIC, Joanna takes care of producing content as well as leading communication and dissemination activities for several EU projects. She is also actively involved in the European Nutrition Leadership Platform (ENLP) and strives to use those skills to help and develop others.

In her spare time, Joanna loves trying and learning new things. However, dancing, (hill) walking or reading a book will always take her to her happy place.

Davide Carrino Senior Manager – Media and Communication
Davide Carrino

Davide joined EUFIC in January 2018 to focus on media, corporate communications and the overall EUFIC engagement strategy, dealing with a series of EU projects communication. Davide brings several years of experience as public affairs and communication consultant on food, health and consumers issues in Brussels.

He holds a post-graduate master in European Interdisciplinary Studies from the College of Europe, and a master in Political Communication from the University of Florence.

In his spare time, he enjoys running after a (tennis and football) ball, learning new languages, cooking and eating.

Nazim Hikmet Ran says "the most beautiful sea hasn't been crossed yet": I think of science as the best waves we haven't seen yet.

Dr Bettina Schelkle Senior Manager – Food and Health Science
Dr Bettina Schelkle

Bettina joined EUFIC in July 2018 with a background in infectious disease control and treatment gained during her PhD and post-doc experience at Cardiff University. She then worked in scientific project management in nutrition and food safety, combining her passion for a healthy lifestyle with her science background.

In her spare time, Bettina enjoys yoga (teaching), gardening in the sunshine and inspiring her fellow women to be the best version of themselves in a busy world.

 “Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” ― Rumi

Dr Jessica Mariani EU Projects Manager
Dr Jessica Mariani

Born as a communicator, Jessica moved across journalism, political communication, academia and project management across several EU countries. In a nutshell, her passion for communication is coupled with a love for research and knowledge dissemination, which served as a fruitful combination to join EUFIC as EU Projects Manager in 2018. 

After obtaining her Master's Degree in Journalism and Public Relations, Jessica landed in the Brussels-Bubble to deal with political communication at the European Parliament Press Unit, where she covered political debates and translated content concerning agricultural development and migration policies.

The multicultural set of the European Institutions inspired her to set up a joint PhD Research Project with the European Parliament called “Migration in Translation”, where she investigated the role of terminology and news translation in EU Institutions. After qualifying as ECQA Terminology Manager, Jessica worked as a lecturer of Terminology and News Translation in several universities across Europe, researched on the effects of translation on food labelling and worked with the EU funded SME LANDFRIEND to eliminate barriers between farmers and consumers.

In her free time, Jessica takes care of her spiritual soul through yoga and meditation and loves sipping a good red wine while listening to lyrical opera.

Carlos Abundancia Communications Manager
Carlos Abundancia

Since joining EUFIC in 2015, Carlos has been the right hand man of the communications team taking care of activities such as EU funded projects, statistical web analysis and social media. He brings to the job a scientific background and loads of motivation and positive attitude, always looking for new challenges in the digital world.

He has a BSc in Human Nutrition and Dietetics from CEU San Pablo University and a European MSc in Food Science, Nutrition and Metabolism from University of Navarra. Carlos has recently finished studying for an Executive Master in Digital Marketing and Communication from the Solvay Business School, Brussels.

In his spare time, Carlos is mostly travelling and trying new food.

“There is no sincerer love than the love of food.”

George Bernard Shaw.

Kirstyn Byrne Graphic Designer
Kirstyn Byrne

Kirstyn joined the Communications department of EUFIC in March 2017 allowing her to combine the two greatest passions in her life; design and food.

She holds a BA(Hons) in Visual Communication from the National College of Art and Design, Dublin and an MA in Food Design from the Académie Royale des Beaux-arts, Brussels.

At EUFIC she uses her creativity and design skills to help people become more informed about the food they eat and to make healthier choices.

In her free time Kirstyn is likely to be styling and photographing food for her blog and paying too much attention to how many likes her food pics get on Instagram!

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”

 J.R.R. Tolkien

Jidi Xu Food and Health Projects Manager
Jidi Xu

Food has always played a big role in Jidi’s life. This is why she made the switch from pharmaceutical science to study the role of nutrition in health. Jidi joined the team in 2017 and finds great joy in translating science into accessible and actionable information on food and health to inspire and empower people to make better decisions about their diet and lifestyle.

Jidi holds a MSc in Human Nutrition from Wageningen University & Research and besides working at EUFIC, Jidi is a health & life coach and yoga teacher where she helps busy women adopt a healthier lifestyle.

“It is far more important to know what person the disease has than what disease the person has.”


Jane Liu Communications Officer
Jane Liu

Jane joined EUFIC in August 2017 as a Communications Intern. Her love for people and the world drive her passion to empower individuals to make healthier lifestyle choices.

She holds a Bachelor’s in Environmental Studies, and has recently completed her Master of Science in Science Communication at Imperial College London. At EUFIC, Jane uses her creativity and her academic training to help individuals deepen their knowledge of food and nutrition to make more conscious lifestyle decisions.

When she’s not at work, Jane loves to experience the beauty of the natural world through long runs and hiking trips with friends and family.

"Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m possible." – Audrey Hepburn

Camila Massri Consumer Science Assistant
Camila Massri

Camila joined EUFIC in November 2017 assisting in projects and research related to consumers insights and food. She has a MSc in International Health from Uppsala University in Sweden, which was her starting point of her journey in the public health area. During her studies, she discovered her interest in nutrition, especially on the importance of the correct delivery of information to the population in the malnutrition prophylaxis. For this reason, she decided to carry out her thesis on food labeling in her native country, Chile. As a food lover, Camila is often trying out new foods and thinking already about her next meal.

"Sometimes it's the smallest decisions that can change your life forever" - K. Russell

Andres Londono Administration Assistant
Andres Londono

Andres joined EUFIC in June 2017, he is currently in his last year of Business Management Bachelor at the Rey Juan Carlos University. EUFIC is his first experience working abroad, here he likes to apply the knowledge that he has acquired during his previous years, also learn about food and healthy life style and help EUFIC to be better every day.

In his free time, he likes to cook different types of meals, do physical activity or just walk around taking pictures.

"Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving." ― Albert Einstein

Donovan van der Voort Food and Health Intern
Donovan van der Voort

Donovan is currently enrolled in the MSc programme Nutrition and Health at the Wageningen University & Research and joined the EUFIC team as an intern in May 2018. His interest are within personalized nutrition and using nutrition as pharma. After running a consultancy agency in Wageningen, he decided to learn more about entrepreneurship and business. Eventually he would like to bring Science and Business together.

In his spare time he likes enjoying loads of good food with friends and family, a real food lover.

Take some risk once in a while or as they say ‘‘The view at the edge is always better’

Luke Cridland Communications Intern
Luke Cridland

Luke is currently enrolled on a Master’s programme in Science Communication at Imperial College London. He also holds a Bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences from the University of Bristol and hopes to use both to communicate the science of food in a fun and engaging way at EUFIC. Before his Master’s, Luke previously worked in scientific publishing and hopes these skills will be useful in producing interesting content in an efficient yet exciting way.

In his free time, Luke is a big music fan and frequently goes to concerts and festivals. He also enjoys good quality beer and hopes to enjoy some of the famous selections Belgium has to offer in his time here.

“If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” ― Isaac Newton

Sophia Rehn Food and Health Intern
Sophia Rehn

Sophia’s interest to answer questions like “How does nutrition maintain our health?” and “Why do we eat the way we do?” led her to study human nutrition at the University of Helsinki. She is master’s student with previous experience in commercial nutrition education. Sophia’s enthusiasm to give people the knowledge and the recourses to make informed food choices led her to an internship at EUFIC. She is excited to be a part of the team, to continue learning about food and health communication and make science-based information on health and food easily digestible (pun intended).

Sophia spends a lot of her free time listening to music and singing along to everything from radio hits to Les Misérables. 

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not.” ― Dr. Suess

Virginie Maenhout Food and Health Intern
Virginie Maenhout

Virginie joined the team as a Food and Health intern in September 2018. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Nutrition and Dietetics from UCLL Leuven and has completed a Master of Science in Health Promotion at Ghent University. She is passionate about advocating relevant health-related topics to empower people to make healthy choices. Much like the Eufic spirit, she enjoys finding creative solutions to complex problems.

With enthusiasm, she fully emerges into both major issues such as children’s food habits as well as niche topics such as edible flowers. She sees herself as a bridge builder between scientific content and people’s everyday life. Through previous eye-opening experiences, she discovered that grasping the full living environment of people is crucial in developing successful interventions.

In her spare time, Virginie likes to go on mini adventures, discovering arty neighbourhoods in new cities, picking out fresh flowers, watching documentaries, and eating cheesecake.

Extremes are easy. Strive for balance.”– Colin Wright

Marie Lödige Communications Intern
Marie Lödige

Marie is currently in her last year of a Bachelor of Science in Science Communication and Bionics at Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences in Kleve, Germany. Working at EUFIC is her first professional experience in the field, and she is looking forward to applying her knowledge of communicating science. Not only that but also learn more about communication, food and nutrition.

Her passion is to make to make science more accessible and use her scientific and communication knowledge to bring science closer to everybody.

 In her free time Marie can be found reading a good book or researching her next travel destination.

You must do the things you think you cannot do” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Vito D'Amico
Vito D'Amico

Vito is an Italian national who in addition to his mother tongue speaks English and French. He is a jurist and certified Privacy and Data Protection professional. He spent the last three years between France and Belgium, working for several EU Institutions and specializing in Privacy & Data Protection legal field. He is looking forward to helping EUFIC comply with GDPR and other legal matters.