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Willy Verstraete

VERSTRAETE was born on April 25, 1946 in Beernem (Belgium). He graduated in 1968 from the Gent University as bio-engineer. He followed a summer course on Soil Microbiology at the Pasteur Institute of Paris. In 1971, he obtained a Ph D degree in the field of microbiology at the Cornell University, Ithaca (USA).

Since 1971, he worked at the Gent University, since 1979 as professor and head of the Laboratory of Microbial Ecology and Technology (LabMET – Faculty of Bioscience Engineering). In 2011, he has become emeritus professor. His R&D has as central theme: Microbial Resource Management ; ie the design, operation and control of processes mediated by mixed microbial cultures. W. Verstraete has field experience with respect to drinking water production plants (slow sand filtration), aerobic wastewater treatment (in particular with respect to nitrification-denitrification), anaerobic digestion of wastewaters and sludges, solid state fermentation of organic residues and bioremediation processes of soils and sediments. He has also gained experience in various aspects of pre- and probiotics used in human and animal nutrition and in systems which simulate the latter. Recently, his work focusses on resource recovery in general and the production of single cell protein in particular .

Verstraete was co-chairman of the Working Party on Environmental Biotechnology of the European Federation for Biotechnology (EFB) (1989 -1993) and was General-Secretary of the European Environmental Research Organization (EERO) (1991-1997). He was a member of the OECD Workgroup on Environmental Biotechnology (1990-1998). In 1993, he was elected to the Fellowship of the International Institute of Biotechnology. In 1991, 1997 and 2004 he co-chaired the International Symposium on Environmental Biotechnology of the European Federation Biotechnology at Ostend (B). In 1994 he chaired the International Symposium on Anaerobic Digestion of the International Water Association (IWA) at Cape Town (SA). In 2001, he was for the second time chairman of this international event, this time organized in Antwerp. In 2014 , he started the Cluster on Resource Recovery in the IWA . From 2006 to 2014 , he was a member of the Editorial Board of the journal Microbial Biotechnology.

For the period 2008-2012, he was member of the European Research Council (ERC) in the domain of Life Sciences. From 2008-2013 , he was a member of the Industrial Research Fund of the Ghent University. In the period 2010-2015, he was chairman of the Ghent University Multiple Research Partnership ‘Biotechnology for a sustainable economy‘. In 2012 ,he was actively involved in coordinating a joint venture between the Universities of Leuven and Ghent in the context of preparing a Knowledge and Innovation Community ( KIC) in the domain of Critical Raw Materials . He was vice-president , president and past-president of the Royal Society of Flemish Engineers (Koninklijke Vlaamse Ingenieursvereniging; KVIV) for the period 1995-2001.He was chairman of the Belgian branch of the IWA (2000-2005) . He was chairman of the Centre of Environmental Studies of the Ghent University (2000-2005). W. Verstraete was for the period 2000-2010 an appointed member of the Technical Commission for Soil Protection of the Netherlands. He was 4 years a member of the Flemish Council for Scientific Innovation (VRWI). He was in the period 2004-2014 member of the scientific council of the Belgian food industry (FEVIA). He was for a period of 12 years as a member of the Belgian Science Council . Since 2011 , he has been scientific adviser to the Wetsus Water Institute at Leeuwarden and the Dutch Water Institute KWR at Nieuwegein ,the Netherlands .

Verstraete has been instrumental in the creation of several successful spin-offs in the field of applied microbial ecology (environmental technology; health; feed and food ). W. Verstraete served in various international review panels. Some examples are: the DELFT-Cluster and SENSE research schools in the Netherlands, the EPFL environmental study center in Lausanne Switzerland, the Helmholtz research institute Leipzig Germany , the Environmental Biotechnology Cooperative Research Centre in Brisbane Australia and the Danish GEUS Institute on water and climate change .

Numerous master and doctoral students of W. Verstraete have received national and international prizes for their scientific achievements.