Leen Vandepitte trained as a marine biologist (MSc in Biology & MSc in Marine and Lacustrine Sciences) at the University of Ghent (Belgium). She is a project manager at the Data Centre division of the Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ) (Belgium), where she has worked since 2005.
She has been involved in the European MarBEF project and the EMODnet Biology project. Currently, she is running the MarineLife+ programme, which groups all activities centered around taxonomic, biogeographic and traits databases that are developed, hosted and maintained by VLIZ. She is responsible for three major databases: the World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS), the European Ocean Biogeographic Information System (EurOBIS) and the Interim Register of Marine and Non-Marine Genera (IRMNG).
The MarineLife+ programme focusses on the interaction between these databases, on quality control and quality assurance, on how scientists can help in making them more complete and on how scientists and the public at large can make use of these systems. In addition, there is a focus on data exchanges and active collaborations with external databases, to widen the scope of and awareness for these initiatives. All the activities within this programme contribute to the development of the LifeWatch Taxonomic Backbone, which is one of the work packages within the LifeWatch project led by VLIZ. In general, the activities can be subdivided into IT developments and support, data management and the organization of workshops & meetings to mobilize the involved experts.