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Keynote Speaker Prof Willy Verstraete from Ghent University.

Over the past decades, knowledge has been gained about basic principles in microbial ecology and how to implement them in environmental biotech in order to engineer towards environmental efficiency. Yet, the duality between spontaneous mixed culture systems and precision designed fermentations remains prominent. Moreover, it is necessary to critically examine the overall value of nitrification/denitrification in soils and waters, of activated sludge systems in water treatment and of rumen fermentation in the food supply chain.

The issues of microbial soil carbon storage, nitrogen and biodiversity, new agro-systems with low pesticide and Haber Bosch nitrogen inputs, resource recovery in waste treatment, microbial protein production, biomethane, and finally environmental hygiene versus activated immunology are addressed and discussed in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals.

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  • 15:30-16:00 Arrival
  • 16:00-18:00 Open Seminar and panel discussion
  • 18:00 Informal drink and networking

Willy Verstraete Biography

W. VERSTRAETE became engineer at the Ghent University and subsequently obtained a PhD degree in the field of microbiology at the Cornell University, Ithaca (USA). He then returned to Ghent, where he became professor and started the Laboratory of Microbial Ecology and Technology (LabMET - Faculty of Bioscience Engineering). Since October 2011, he has become emeritus professor.

His R&D has as central theme: Microbial Resource Management; i.e. the design, operation and control of processes mediated by mixed microbial cultures, more specifically by microbiomes. W. Verstraete has been instrumental in the creation of several successful spin-offs of the Ghent University in the field of applied microbial ecology (environmental technology; food and feed).

In 2005, he was chosen by an international jury to receive the highest scientific prize in his country i.e. the Excellence in Science Prize, awarded by the National Science Foundation (FWO).

In 2006, he was awarded by the International Water Association (IWA) the Imhoff Award for his contribution in the domain of water biotreatment.

In 2015, he became nominated as advisor of the Dutch Water Institute KWR, to deal with the aspects of water and cyclic economy. In September 2018, the Dutch Water Institute KWR proclaimed him Honorary Fellow for his invigorating resource recovery science and application work.

From 2014 to 2021, he ranked in the list of Highly Cited Researchers.

In September 2016, he received from the International Water Association (IWA) and the International Society for Microbial Ecology (ISME), cooperating in MEWE (Microbial Ecology and Water Engineering), the Ardern and Lockett Award for his contributions in the fields of water engineering and microbial ecology.

In april 2016, Willy Verstraete was elected President of the board of the National Science Foundation FWO Belgium. In 2020, his term was extended.

In march 2023, he was awarded the 5-yearly honorary doctorate degree at the Wageningen University.

Willy Verstraete is particularly proud of his long list of master and doctoral students which today are taking the lead in the domain of sciences in general and environmental engineering in particular.

Climate & Sustainability Month February 2023

This event is part of Climate & Sustainability Month which takes place throughout February 2023. Find out more here.

At this event

Miao Guo 2018

Senior Lecturer in Engineering