Advanced Water Management Centre

Willy Verstraete - Ghent University

Willy Verstraete

Emeritus Professor Willy Verstraete was professor and head of the Centre for Microbial Ecology and Technology (CMET) at Gent University, Belgium for over 30 years. Over this time he has mentored innumerable postgraduate students and staff, and he continues to be influential in science and engineering at an international scale.

Willy’s research has focused on microbial resource management i.e., the design, operation and control of processes mediated by mixed microbial cultures in drinking water production, aerobic wastewater treatment, anaerobic digestion of wastewaters and sludges, solid state fermentation of organic residues, and bioremediation processes of soils and sediments. His research has received international accolades including the most prestigious scientific award in Belgium —­ the National Science Foundation Excellence in Science Prize (2005). He has received many professional awards including the IWA Imhoff Award for his contribution to water biotreatment, the IWA and the International Society for Microbial Ecology (ISME) Ardern and Lockett Award for his contribution to water engineering and microbial ecology, and the Einstein Professorship for his contribution to environmental sciences from the Chinese Academy of Applied Sciences at Shenyang. Recently, Nature Microbiology published a new archaeal phylum, Verstraetearchaeota, recognizing the contributions of his team to the development of engineered microbial ecosystems.

Willy has served on many international advisory committees including appointment as General-Secretary of the European Environmental Research Organization (EERO), and the European Research Council (ERC) in the domain of Life Sciences. He currently is active member of the board of 3 of several spin-off companies successfully established from his research in applied microbial ecology of environmental technology, health, food and feed. He has been on the editorial board for Journal Microbial Biotechnology and Environmental Science and Technology, and is one of the most Highly Cited Researchers, with several publications in the top 1% of the respective field. In total his publications have been cited over 35,000 times.

He is a Fellow of the International Institute of Biotechnology, and a member of the Royal Academy of Sciences and Arts of Belgium, currently coordinating an international Thinkers programme within the Academy on Water and Climate Change Resilience. Very recently, Willy was elected chairman of the board of the Science Foundation FWO of Flanders, Belgium, and was nominated Honorary Fellow at the KWR Watercycle Research Institute of the Netherlands for his contributions to responsible resource and environmental management.

Haydee De Clippeleir - DC Water

Haydée De Clippeleir is a Research Program Manager at DC Water (Washington, DC) where she leads the research group at the Blue Plains advanced wastewater treatment plant. This group focusses on technology and process control development as well as process optimization. The main driver for technology development is to bridge the needs for intensification of processes with resource recovery, decreasing potential capital and operational costs for future treatment. Together with her team, she is currently looking into carbon redirection approaches, aerobic granulation, short-cut nitrogen removal, thermal hydrolysis and anaerobic digestion.

Earlier she focused on optimization of sidestream and mainstream deammonification application during her postdoctoral research at Columbia University (New York, NY) and PhD work at Ghent University (Belgium).


Mike Johns - Johns Environmental

Mike JohnsMike is the Director of Johns Environmental Group based in Brisbane, Australia which specialises in industrial waste treatment, particularly in the agrifoods sector. He has a lifetime of experience in both academic and business circles working with these industries on the removal and recovery of nutrients from wastes to maximise sustainable outcomes.

From 1993 to 2011 Mike was the technical adviser to the Australian red meat processing industry’s environmental R&D program.  This program was responsible for markedly improving the environmental performance of the industry, especially in terms of nutrient management and the acceptance and adoption of modern treatment technologies by industry players. He brings a profound understanding of the challenges involved in the adoption of novel technologies for nutrient recovery and removal by the agrifoods sector and the strategies which can derisk the process.

Mike’s formal qualifications include a Bachelor of Technology and PhD in biochemical engineering from Massey University, New Zealand.  He was Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering at The University of Queensland until 2000 and conducted research into biological nitrogen removal from wastewater, microalgal processes and industrial crystallisation technologies including struvite and bulk protein recovery working with Genencor (US).


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