the Lab

Imagine Membrane

Together with NOVA School of Science & Technology in Portugal, we organize since 2017 the conference “Imagine Membrane”. 

The conference takes place bi-annually in close collaboration with the European and the North American Membrane Societies. Hosted on the beautiful Azores Islands as a strategic location between Europe and North America, at provides a unique setting for ample and highly interactive scientific discussions on the current and future challenges of membrane science and technology.

Previous editions have been 2017, 2019 and 2023. You may check for the upcoming conference (probably 2025) here.


Surphase is a start-up co-founded by Iliane Rafaniello and Thomas Schäfer.

The company commercializes the only currently device that detects membrane fouling not only at the very early stage but also directly on a membrane surface. This allows for an unprecedented control over both membrane fouling and cleaning.

You can find more information here.


Together with Carmelo Di Primo at INSERM/IECB/University of Bordeaux, we are fostering the collaboration across the border on characterizing (bio)molecular interactions at the bio/health/materials interface.

In this context, we have currently BioMINT running which is an incubator project supported by EUSKAMPUS. Our aim is to have a dynamic and strongly collaborating transborder laboratory functioning in the short term.

Young Academy of Europe

The Young Academy of Europe (YAE) is a pan-European non-governmental academy of young scientists and scholars. The YAE was founded in 2012 in order to improve the conditions in which young, independent scientists and scholars work across Europe. Thomas is co-founder and served as the first vice-chair of the YAE.

Sci-Generation - Next Generation of Young Scientists

The Targeted Network TN1301 Sci-GENERATION was a COST initiative that aimed at elaborating contemporary scientific thought and thereby disseminating a new Spirit of Research and Innovation in Europe. It was a bottom-up and pan-European platform for young outstanding European next generation researchers (including ERC Starting Grantees and other talents of less research intensive countries) in order to share and transmit their visions on emergent research paths and research policy as well as their respective experience and ideas. More on SCI-GENERATION can be found here.