The University of Antwerp is a young, dynamic and forward-thinking university which ranked 14th in the “Top 50 Universities Under 50 years” in 2014. The European Commission has awarded the University the “HR Excellence in Research” quality label. Within the Faculty of Science, the University created in 2006 the Department of Bioscience Engineering, recognizing a strong societal demand for research and education in the field of applied biological sciences. In this young Department, prof. Lenaerts founded the Research Group of Sustainable Energy, Air and Water Technology, and was later joined by prof. Denys (2013), and recently by prof. Vlaeminck (2015). The educational programme of bio-engineering has rapidly increased in volume, up to almost 100 students subscribing for the first bachelor bio-engineering in 2015.
The central research theme of prof. Vlaeminck’s team is ‘microbial technology for resource-efficient nutrient management’. Technologies encompass biological nutrient recovery (micro-algae, photoheterotrophs, single cell protein,…), short-cut nitrogen removal (partial nitritation/anammox and nitritation/denitritation), novel applications for nitrification/denitrification, the reuse of recovered products,... The influent scope ranges from domestic over industrial to agricultural or aquacultural streams, be it in end-of-pipe collection systems or in source separation schemes (e.g. black, brown, grey, yellow water). Besides the terrestrial context, a dedicated focus is oriented toward biological life support systems for Space. The group’s methodology spans from lab- to full-scale reactors and from microbial analyses to process control and microbiome management. Despite of being an early-career scientist, the research of prof. Vlaeminck has resulted in above 50 publications in ISI indexed journals.