Dr. Francis de los Reyes was named the Glenn E. and Phyllis J. Futrell Distinguished Professor #2 by NC State. De los Reyes, who joined CCEE in 2000, was promoted to professor in 2012 and named a Chancellor’s Faculty Scholar in 2014.
“Over this time, he has developed into a world leader in applying fundamental principles in microbial ecology for improved treatment of domestic and industrial wastewater, bringing improved access to proper sanitation to underserved communities, and serving students and professionals at NC State and around the world through the development of new courses and seminars to share his expertise and passion for global sanitation,” said department head Dr. Morton Barlaz. “Dr. de los Reyes has made truly outstanding contributions in research, education and service and has brought widespread recognition to NC State.”
“I am honored and humbled by this recognition, and I am inspired to continue to do meaningful work in environmental engineering and science,” de los Reyes said. “This award will allow me to continue to support my research — such as funding students working with me at the forefront of wastewater treatment and conversion of wastes to resources and energy. It will help support my work in global sanitation, to find solutions for people in the U.S. and overseas who are underserved and lack access to safe and sustainable sanitation infrastructure.”
De los Reyes has published more than 130 peer-reviewed papers on wastewater treatment, the anaerobic digestion of solid waste and global sanitation. He is also a TED Fellow who gave a talk entitled “Sanitation is a Basic Human Right.” His awards include the Gordon Fair Award in Environmental Engineering Education; the Outstanding Teacher, Outstanding Extension, and Global Outreach Awards from NC State; the US National Science Foundation CAREER Award; the Steven Dentel Award for Global Outreach from AEESP; and the AAEE Research Honor Award. His group’s pit-emptying technology (Flexcrevator and Excluder) was awarded the RELX Group Environmental Challenge Award in 2018, and he received the Patents for Humanity Award in 2020. He recently was among 15 water industry professionals named a 2021 Fellow of the Water Environment Federation.
“A personal highlight has been the creation of the Global WaSH (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene) faculty cluster at NC State,” de los Reyes said. “I led the formation of the cluster, and we were able to hire several young faculty working on different aspects of WaSH. That group has been dynamic in developing new classes in WaSH and obtaining funding for research in WaSH. I’d like to think that NC State is recognized for its impact on SDG 6 (Sustainable Development Goal 6 – Access to clean water and sustainable sanitation) partly because of the work of the Global WaSH cluster. I see the cluster as continuing to lead in education, research, and extension in this field, and making an impact directly and indirectly to the lives of millions who are underserved.”
WaSH Cluster faculty have already led two NSF RAPID proposals and de los Reyes is a recipient of a planning grant from NSF for an Engineering Research Center (ERC) entitled One Water, Sanitation, and Health with Underserved Communities (OneWaSH). De los Reyes was recently elected to the National Academy of Science and Technology, Philippines, the country’s highest recognition body on science and technology, in recognition of his outstanding scientific contributions and continuous advancement of science and technology.
“The words that come to mind in describing Francis are a true scholar and global servant who is driven, creative, committed, altruistic and a leader in both scholarship and in delivering the results of his scholarship to the people who perhaps need it most,” Barlaz said. “I would especially like to thank Glenn and Phyllis Futrell for their support of the department and NC State. The Professorship will provide much needed support for Dr. de los Reyes to pursue his work to improve sanitation throughout the world.”
CCEE alumnus Glenn Futrell retired in 1990 after a fruitful career in engineering and turned his talents to successful real estate development and service to his community and to the university, which includes 20 years on the Engineering Foundation Board. He also served eight years on the Student Aid Association Board, three years on the Board of Visitors, and as a member of the fundraising committee for Fitts-Woolard Hall.
Futrell and his wife, Phyllis, have been generous to several areas at the university, with support for scholarships and endowed professorships, as well as ongoing gifts to areas including athletics and the College of Engineering. Futrell was awarded the NC State University Watauga Medal in 2021. It is the highest nonacademic honor that the university awards.