#Ÿnsecter – Thomas Lefebvre, VP – BioTech R&D Innovations Director
From termites to mealworms, discover the path of our resident insect enthusiast and researcher
Thomas is one of the very first Ÿnsecters. Applying in 2013, his profile caught the attention of the founders who invited him to join the adventure one year later: “I immediately understood that it was an amazing project I wanted to join“. Fascinated by the tiny universe of insects since his early childhood, Thomas was inspired by the work of Edward Osborne Wilson, a world-renowned entomologist. He began to study the ant colonies around his home, even drawing them to better understand their behavior. He pursued his passion with a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree at the Institute for Research on Insect Biology where he specializes in termites. He dedicated his PhD thesis to the intestinal microbiota of a particular termite species, while giving lectures to students at the Paris-Est Créteil University. When he joined Ÿnsect, Thomas studied the importance of water to optimize the yellow mealworm’s performances. Today, he is a Vice-President and R&D Director of the BioTech Innovations team, dealing with subjects related to nutrition, health and genetics of our two mealworm species.
Thomas met Antoine while Ÿnsect was still screening several insect species on their abilities to convert biomass and to be mass produced. At the time, Antoine contacted the laboratory where Thomas was working on termites: “I was still writing about Malagasy termites at this stage, but when I knew Ÿnsect, I became fascinated with the project. At that point, I was thinking of looking for a job in the private sector, and Ÿnsect convinced me to take the plunge“. After seven years at Ÿnsect, Thomas has evolved from Project Officer to Director of a 15 people team. For him, the good skills to lead his team are: “Goodwill! It is important to keep a good balance between high standards and fun. I like the idea that enthusiasm creates a group mindset that pushes the team forward. I do my best to serve and foster this enthusiasm.” On the scientific side, Thomas is resourceful: “As a researcher, I am eager for challenges, it pushes me to think outside the box and find new solutions. I like this innovative part of my job, there is a fulfilling aspect in the creative process.”
Since he arrived, Thomas has embraced new fields of study and has carried out many projects. He is particularly proud of the important advances he and his team have made in insect nutrition: “Thanks to a collective effort, we have taken an incredible leap forward in our knowledge of nutrition. It’s nothing like what we were doing even five years ago. We are now able to respond precisely to the nutritional needs of our insects“. He is grateful for many things within his Ÿnsect adventure, but particularly his team members: “I’m lucky to work with extremely skilled people. I love my job, but I must admit that without this team, my day-to-day life would not be the same.“