Research in the Environmental Engineering cluster focuses on the role of microbiomes at the water-food-environment nexus. We study a range of bioprocesses in engineered and natural systems, including the degradation of pollutants, removal of nutrients from used water by biofilm processes, and transformation of wastewater nutrients into microbial community-based single cell protein. Novel approaches and methodologies have led to fundamental insights in used water treatment and resource recovery as well as drug/probiotic delivery systems that are of practical relevance for a circular (bio)economy.
Prof Stefan WUERTZ
Deputy Centre Director (Education & Training)
Research Director, Environmental Engineering cluster
Microbial diversity is often related to community function and the ability to withstand environmental fluctuations that typically occur as disturbances. When disturbance occurs over a long period of time, it is categorized as press disturbance. While a disturbance may result in inhibition, injury, or death for some individuals in a community, it also creates opportunities for other individuals to grow or reproduce. Diversity is frequently implied to have a positive effect on the functional stability of ecological communities. However, its relationship with stochastic and deterministic assembly mechanisms remains largely unknown, particularly under fluctuating disturbances. The challenge is to derive general insights into the assembly, structure (e.g., diversity) and function (ecosystem services) of microbial communities and learn how to translate this knowledge into beneficial bioprocess performance and ecosystem management.