Space Systems Researcher, Crew Commander for NASA, Biologist and Global Community Artist
Vermeulen is a true contemporary polymath. He holds a PhD in biology, is active in the fields of systems engineering, architecture and design, is a photographer, a visual artist, wrote a book with a philosopher, and works with space agencies such as NASA and ESA. He is a TED Senior Fellow, and is currently pursuing a second PhD at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands working on the topic of interstellar travel. In 2017 he was selected as one of the Top 5 Tech Pioneers from Belgium by the newspaper De Tijd.
His background as a scientist and his expertise in community building has led him to become Crew Commander of the 2013 NASA-funded HI- SEAS Mars simulation in Hawaii. For this project, he and a crew of five fellow astronauts lived for four months in a dome studying the effects of long term isolation on a small crew.
Vermeulen sees this activity of engaging with the future first and foremost as a global and communal effort. As an artist Vermeulen is interested in working with technology and co- creating with communities. Over the past years Vermeulen has been developing a multitude of art-and-science projects throughout the world, from the US to Southeast Asia, and beyond. As a gifted community builder, he has been living and collaborating with people in places such as Yogyakarta, Taichung, Manila, Hawaii, New York and London. This enables him to learn from global traditions to create a better future.
In 2009 he initiated SEAD (Space Ecologies Art and Design), an international transdisciplinary network of artists, scientists, engineers and activists. Its goal is to reshape the future through critical inquiry and hands-on experimentation. In order to achieve this, SEAD develops paradigm-shifting projects in which ecology, technology and community are radically integrated in unexpected ways. This has resulted in projects worldwide such as: Biomodd, a worldwide series of art installations in which living ecosystems are built inside computers and the Merapi Terraforming Project, an art- science project on the Merapi volcano in Indonesia set up after a large eruption in 2010.
With a passion for concepts of interstellar travel, he brings together science and art and loves to challenge established ideas on how people live and work together, and how they shape the world. Through concrete experiences and anecdotes he draws his audience into a highly personal captivating journey. His TED Talk How to go to space, without having to go to space has been viewed over a million times, and has a following from all around the world.
Innovation & Creativity
Art & Design