Nitrogen: in all fairness

Year: 2024
Nitrogen: in all fairness
Class of Technical Sciences


The Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Sciences and Arts organizes in 2023-2024 the Thinker's Cycle Nitrogen: in all fairness on the initiative of the Class of Technical Sciences. Coordinators are Willy Verstraete (KVAB, KTW, UGent), Erik Smolders (KVAB, KTW, KU Leuven) and Siegfried Vlaeminck (UAntwerpen). 

Two international experts Ana Soares and Thomas Christensen, in consultation with a Steering Committee from the Academy, will address this urgent issue and try to hear from all stakeholders in the Flemish landscape.

Through numerous activities with stakeholders and experts, a broad reflection on the proposed topic is envisaged and perspectives for a future policy will be offered.

The final thinker's report will be presented during a public symposium at the Academy in March 2024.


Experts international:

Ana Soares, Professor of Biotechnology Engineering at Cranfield University, UK.

Thomas Christensen, Professor of Environmental Engineering at the Technical University of Denmark.



Willy Verstraete, Biochemical and Microbial Engineering UGent, Chairman FWO (Fonds Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek - Vlaanderen).
Erik Smolders, Soil and Water Management KU Leuven, Dean Faculty of Bioscience Engineering
Siegfried Vlaeminck, Bioengineering Sciences UAntwerpen, senior lecturer


In addition to the three coordinators, the other members of the Steering Committee are:

  • Patrick Maselis, CEO Maselis, cereal products for the food industry
  • Paul De Bruycker, CEO Indaver, recycling and waste treatment in cooperation with the Flemish Government
  • Egbert Lox (ie-net, ex-Umicore)
  • Kris Verheyen, Bioengineering, UGent, head Laboratory Forest & Nature (ForNaLab)
Ana Soares

Professor in Biotechnology Engineering. MEng from Algarve University in Portugal, PhD from Lund University in Sweden. She has 17 years post-doctoral experience doing research focused in municipal as well as industrial wastewater management, proposing innovative and economically feasible solutions to produce high quality effluents and product recovery. She is particularly successful in bridging the gap between science and application, working in close collaboration with industrial and institutional stakeholders. Professor Soares has an h-index of 34 with >75 published peer reviewed publications, >40 invited presentations, acted as main examiner for >25 PhD defences in various countries and has secured over £9M research funding as Principal Investigator. Prof Soares in an IWA Fellow, active member of various national and international committees, such as co-Chair of the IWA Resource Recovery Cluster, the UK Water Industry Forum and advisor to the NET-ZERO Roadmap for Scottish Water and the ReWater Project with Aarhus Vand in Denmark.

Thomas Christensen

Professor in environmental technology. M.Sc. from DTU, PhD from University of Washington, Seattle, and Dr.Agro. from the University of Copenhagen. Has been a researcher in waste management and related aspects for more than 40 years, specifically within environmental assessment of waste management systems (founder of the waste-LCA-model EASEWASTE/EASETECH), leaching from waste and groundwater pollution at landfills. Has also worked with waste characterization, incineration, biological treatment, and utilization of waste and sludge on land and use of ashes in civic construction. In recent years focus has been on carbon-capture for storage and utilization. Has collaborated with municipalities, institutions and companies in Denmark as well as abroad. Has published several international books on waste. Has published more than 250 international scientific journal contributions and has been cited more than 25 000 times; H-index 75. Member of the Danish Academy of Technical Sciences.