People
Dr Ezequiel SANTILLAN
Senior Research Fellow | Senior Project Manager
Environmental Engineering cluster, SCELSE

Ezequiel’s research focuses on understanding the effect of disturbance on the function, structure and assembly of microbial communities in activated sludge from a multidisciplinary perspective that involves engineering, biotechnology, molecular biology, ecology and multivariate statistics. He believes that ecological theory provides fundamental guidance towards this quest and sludge bioreactors for wastewater treatment can be used as model systems for microbial ecology studies. Ezequiel’s research employed bioreactors at microcosm and mesocosm scales to explore and expand ecological concepts like the intermediate disturbance hypothesis, trait-based life-history strategies, resistance and resilience of nitrifiers and nitrification under press disturbance, and different mechanisms of community assembly and diversity for taxa and genes. The ultimate goal is to find ways to drive microbial communities using perturbations towards achieving desired functions, like degradation of pollutants or the production of certain compounds. Currently, he is also in charge of the scientific coordination of an NRF CRP-funded project titled: “Recovery and microbial synthesis of high-value aquaculture feed additives from food-processing wastewater”, from 01-2020 to 12-2023, in collaboration with industrial partners and external research institutions. One goal of this project is to find ways to drive microbial communities to convert food-processing wastewaters into protein to be used as fish-feed additives for aquaculture.