Plenary and Keynote speakers


Plenary talks

Merle de Kreuk and David Weissbrodt, Conference Chairs, TU Delft, NL

Kalanithy Vairavamoorthy, IWA Executive Director, IWA

Michiel van Haersma Buma, Dijkgraaf of Hoogheemraadschap van Delfland, NL

Gatze Lettinga, Emeritus Professor of Wageningen University & Research, NL 

Jules van Lier, Sanitary Engineering, TU Delft, NL

Mark van Loosdrecht, Environmental Biotechnology, TU Delft, NL

Eberhard Morgenroth, IWA Biofilms SG Chair, ETH Zürich and Eawag, CH

Scientific keynote lectures


Satoshi Okabe, Hokkaido University, JP

Microbial ecology at the oxic/anoxic interface of granules

Satoshi Okabe is Professor at the Division of Environmental Engineering of  the Faculty of Engineering at Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Japan.

I have been working on nitrogen cycle and sulfur cycle in complex multispecies biofilms and granules displaying considerable heterogeneity with respect to both the microorganisms present and their physicochemical microenvironments. My research interest in this research area is to link microbial community structure and in situ function in multispecies biofilms by combining several molecular biological techniques and microelectrodes. I applied this approach to partial nitrification / anammox granules and biofilms and successfully determined their in situ activities with a high spatial and temporal resolution. Fundamental ecophysiological data on nitrifiers and anammox bacteria are essential to optimize or maximize nitrogen removal processes.


Britt-Marie Wilén, Chalmers University of Technology, SE

Microbial aggregation from flocs to granules

Britt-Marie Wilén is Professor at Chalmers University of Technology at the division of Water Environment Technology, where she is also head of division.

She has a long experience in working with activated sludge flocculation, biofilm formation, and granulation. Granular activated sludge is a technology that will become increasingly more popular as more results show its many advantages compared to conventional activated sludge.


Catherine Kirkland, Montana State University, US

Magnetic resonance reveals structure and transport within aerobic granules

Catherine Kirkland is Assistant Research Professor in the Department of Civil Engineering at Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana, USA. 

Her work has focused on use of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to explore diverse biofilm systems ranging from subsurface biofilms to granular sludge.  In her current work, Catherine uses non-destructive and non-invasive magnetic resonance methods to examine the heterogeneous internal structural and transport properties of aerobic granular sludge from full-scale wastewater treatment plants.

Alfons J. M. Stams, Wageningen University & Research, NL

Metabolic interactions in the anaerobic granular sludge microbiome

Fons Stams is Professor in the Subdivision of Microbiology of the Department of Agrotechnology and Food Sciences at Wageningen University & Research, The Netherlands.

My research focuses on the ecophysiology of anaerobic microbial communities that play a role in environmental biotechnological processes, such as anaerobic wastewater treatment. Granulation of methanogenic communities has been crucial for the development and application of anaerobic wastewater treatment. Within the granules anaerobic bacteria and methanogenic archaea form syntrophic interactions to degrade short chain fatty acids. These syntrophic interactions are affected by the presence of inorganic electron acceptors, including sulfate and nitrate. The interplay of metabolic interactions in granular sludge offers possibilities to perform different microbial conversions in one reactor.


Anuska Mosquera-Corral, University of Santiago de Compostela, ES

Granular sludge in the nitrogen cycle

Anuska Mosquera-Corral is Associate Professor in the Group of Environmental Biotechnology of the Department of Chemical Engineering at University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain.

Granular sludge has been widely applied for almost 50 years under anaerobic conditions in the well-known UASB reactors for the removal of organic matter. Taking into account the benefits of this technology, in terms of large treated loads and small footprint, the development of granular sludge under other environmental conditions appeared as a research object approximately 20 years ago. Since then, granular sludge obtained in aerobic or anoxic conditions has been evaluated for nitrogen and phosphorous removal. The technologies based on granular sludge are recognised to contribute to the reduction of energy consumption in the WWTP, which is currently one of the key aspects of the improvement of these facilities. For these reasons, in my opinion, new technologies based on granular biomass should be developed in the future. Furthermore, they should be implemented more and more, not only in the case of new built WWTP but also upgraded ones.


Damien Batstone, The University of Queensland, AU

Anaerobic modelling of biological granules (review and needs analysis)

Damien Batstone is Professor and Deputy Director (Education) at the Advanced Water Management Center of the University of Queensland and Professor in the School of Chemical Engineering.

He has worked on model based analysis of anaerobic granular systems for 20 years, including one of the first multi-species biofilm models applied to anaerobic granular sludge systems, and the first multi-dimensional model of anaerobic granules. This has extended to application of particle separation and population balance models of granular systems. Granular systems are complex, but fundamentally governed by mechanistic relationships, and this makes them an ideal system for model based analysis and offers the possibility for further optimisation, particularly in systems that are particularly challenging, including multifunctional granules (in aerobic systems), and low strength/high solids (in anaerobic systems).


Etienne Paul, INSA Toulouse, FR

Aerobic Granule: an efficient plant to recycle organic matter and minerals from wastewaters

Etienne Paul studied Biotechnology & Bioengineering at the University of Marseille, France and subsequently conducted his PhD under supervision of Gérard Goma at the University of Toulouse where he is currently Professor.

He has twenty seven years of experience in the field of bioprocesses and bioreactors applied for biological treatment of wastewaters and wastes and more recently for their valorisation. His current main research focuses on the production and characterization of extracellular polymers (EPS) in biological aggregates and converting these polymers into useful material. He has published over 60 SCI-tracked journal papers (H-index 24) and three book chapters in English, participated in 67 international conferences and is the main inventor in 4 patents. He has supervised 25 PhD students and has coordinated approximately 15 national or international research programs.


Edward van Dijk, TU Delft, NL

Controlling effluent suspended solids in the aerobic granular sludge process

Edward van Dijk shares his profession between academia as a PhD candidate in the Department of Biotechnology at Delft University of Technology and engineering practice as Project Manager R&D by Royal HaskoningDHV, The Netherlands.

Aerobic granular sludge is an important development towards a more sustainable wastewater treatment process. Smaller reactors and less energy consumption are obvious benefits, but also extraction of alginate-like exopolymers (ALE) will reduce the waste of future treatment plants. Yet we are only starting to discover the full potential of aerobic granular sludge and the future of aerobic granular sludge will be an exciting one.


Distinguished keynote lecture


Lesley Robertson, Curator of the Delft School of Microbiology Archives, NL

Delft + microbiology = Antoni van Leeuwenhoek

Lesley Robertson is an emeritus researcher and lecturer of the Department of Biotechnology at Delft University of Technology, Curator of the Delft School of Microbiology Archives, and History of Microbiology Editor for FEMS Microbiology Letters.

Having spent most of my University career researching the microbiology of wastewater treatment, and subsequently biosafety, retirement brought the chance to expand my interest in microbiology history. For over 30 years, the archive and museum of the Delft School of Microbiology (now at Delft’s Science Centre) consumed any spare time that I had, and it still does. Then, there’s the formula “Delft + microbiology = Antoni van Leeuwenhoek” – I’m having a lot of fun repeating his experiments to shed light on his methods.

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