Keynote Speakers

Siegfried Vlaeminck

Since 2015, Siegfried E. Vlaeminck is professor at the University of Antwerp, where he heads the Microbial Cleantech Team in the Sustainable Energy, Air and Water Technology Research Group, and serves as vice-chair to the Bioscience Engineering Department. He obtained his MSc (2005) and PhD (2009) degrees in Bioscience Engineering, option Environmental Technology, at Ghent University, under the supervision of prof. Willy Verstraete. Prof. Vlaeminck focussed on biological wastewater treatment, and more particularly on partial nitritation/anammox, as novel resource-efficient nitrogen removal technology. He continued his research career at the Center for Microbial Ecology and Technology (CMET), as postdoctoral researcher, and later as part-time professor (2013-2019), expanding his research interests to multiple innovative nitrogen removal and recovery technologies.

The mission of his research team in Antwerp is to develop microbial technology addressing societal challenges in the water cycle and food production chain. Solutions should be clean, safe and cost efficient, treating or recovering resources from waste and side streams, or (bio)producing from renewable resources. Examples include innovative biological nitrogen conversions, energy-positive sewage treatment, and production of fertilizers, animal feed or human food (microbial protein, single-cell protein). As an ultimate case of circular economy relying on microbial cleantech, the team also focuses on regenerative life support systems for human spaceflights, in the MELiSSAprogramme. The team’s results are published in around 100 papers indexed by Web of Science, are cited more than 2500 times, and have attracted several awards.

Prof. Vlaeminck currently advises 15 PhD candidates and 4 postdocs. This team is part of the new Centre of Excellence on Microbial Systems Technology (°2020) at the University of Antwerp, contributes to the Centre for Advanced Process Technology for Urban Resource Recovery (CAPTURE), and is internationally active in various projects from the European Commission and the European Space Agency. Prof. Vlaeminck served as Associate Editor for Microbial Biotechnology (2015-2020), and is a member of the management committee of IWA’s specialist group on nutrient removal and recovery (NRR).


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Jenelle Watson

Jenelle Watson is currently Manager Treatment and Resources at Melbourne Water and is responsible for the short and long-term growth and compliance planning for Melbourne Water’s wastewater treatment plants, resource recovery and emissions reduction. Jenelle was instrumental in Melbourne Water’s carbon emissions reduction pledge and the Melbourne Sewerage Strategy, both of which will drive a transformational change in the way we think about wastewater treatment and resource recovery.

Jenelle has more than 20 years of experience in the water industry, starting with Sydney Water as a graduate before moving to GHD and then to Melbourne Water in 2008. She is a thought leader who is passionate about implementing innovation and has extensive experience in leading the associated change processes.

Jenelle holds a Bachelor of Engineering (Bioprocess) from the University of New South Wales and a Master in Business and Technology from the Australian Graduate School of Management.


Per Henrik Nielsen

Per Henrik is a Project Director of Special Projects at VCS Denmark, the oldest and third largest water utility in Denmark, where he is responsible for the planning and implementation of system-wide optimization projects and applied research efforts aimed at the development of new approaches for the sustainable management of the entire water cycle.

His efforts are targeted at positioning of the utility for the future, studying needs for system centralization and decentralization, adopting of the water resource recovery paradigm, increasing resiliency, and identifying technology gaps and developing corresponding applied research efforts. He was instrumental in making VCS the first Danish Water Research Foundation Subscriber in 2014 and from the beginning has been seeking active involvement in the Foundation’s activities, currently serving in their prestigious Research Council.

Per Henrik also represents VCS in Three Waters, an association of three of the most important Danish water utilities aimed at identifying and implementing an applied research agenda for the future. He also helps coordinate and actively participates in VCS efforts of providing assistance to water utilities around the world in the strengthening of their technical and institutional capabilities. Prior to joining VCS in 2006, he worked in the consulting engineering, in the design-build contracting, and in the equipment supplier sectors of the water industry.  He is a member of the Society of Danish Engineers, the Water Environment Federation (WEF), and the International Water Association.

He has served as the director for VCS’ Beyond Energy Neutrality program, a series of projects at the 410,000 population equivalent Ejby Molle Water Resource Recovery Facility, aimed at fulfilling the utilities goal of achieving energy independence and carbon neutrality, which achieved its goal in less than 5 years while meeting stringent treated effluent nutrient limits. Currently this facility produces more than 150 percent of the energy electrical and heat energy it requires.

Other significant projects he has directed include the full-scale evaluation of the benefits of induced biomass granulation using hydrocyclones on biological nutrient removal (also a first in Scandinavia), as a contributing utility to a Water Research Foundation (WRF) project. Another of his latest project involves also a “first of” demonstration in the full-scale of the capabilities of membrane aerated biofilm reactors (MABRs) a new and very promising technology that has the potential of revolutionizing the industry because of its small footprint and low energy profile.


Ari Kangas

Mr. Ari Kangas is a wastewater specialist who has been working around wastewater issues the whole of his professional career starting in 1983. Mr. Kangas has been familiarizing himself with waste water from all sides working as a research engineer, operational chemist, and operational chief at the WWTP and then as a consultant and private entrepreneur before changing over to licensing authority, supervising authority and finally to the Ministry of the Environment.

Mr. Kangas was awarded a national prize for his applied research on nitrogen removal in 90’s and he is well-wanted speaker with good educational skills. He has also given several university-level lectures.

In his present position, Mr. Kangas is coordinating national projects covering wastewater treatment, nutrient recovery and sludge utilization.


Kristian Sahlstedt

Lic.Tech. Kristian Sahlstedt started out as a researcher in Helsinki University of Technology (Aalto University’s predecessor), and has later pursued a career of 20 years in consulting and engineering in the water sector. Now Section Head of Process Technology and Export at AFRY, he is one of one of Finland’s leading process experts and team leaders of complex water and wastewater treatment plant projects. In these roles, he has conducted over 100 design, consulting and engineering assignments in the Nordic countries, Russia, Belarus and Ukraine. These include, for example, process design of the conversion of St Petersburg Central and Northern WWTPs (~3,5 million PE combined) to biological nitrogen and phosphorus removal. The clients of these projects include industrial enterprises, contractors, public and private water utilities, international financial institutions, government agencies and private foundations. Mr Sahlstedt conducted Finland’s first full-scale WWTP dynamic modeling projects and is considered one of the leading experts of this field in the Nordics.

Antti-Ilari Partanen

Antti-Ilari Partanen is the head of the Climate System Modelling group at the Finnish Meteorological Institute. He received his PhD at the University of Eastern Finland in 2014, and did his postdoctoral research in 2014­–2017 at Concordia University, Montreal, Canada.

His main research interests are climate response to various global emission scenarios, estimating remaining carbon budgets compatible with the Paris Agreement, and climate effects of atmospheric aerosols. His main tools have been different global climate models. His PhD work pioneered applying a global aerosol-climate model to study a Climate Engineering scheme of cloud whitening with sea spray aerosol. In recent years, he has focused more on global carbon cycle and is currently getting involved in studying the potential and climate implications of large-scale removal of atmospheric carbon dioxide.

He has also a keen interest in interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research. He has collaborated with researchers of Environmental Law, studied health effects of aerosol particles and is involved in two early-phase research projects involving experts from a wide range of disciplines including e.g. economics, public health, and political science. Overall, he aims to enhance understanding of Earth System dynamics and to study how they are influenced by human actions on a global scale.

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