Francis de los Reyes

Professor, University Faculty Scholar

Dr. de los Reyes is a Professor of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering, Associate Faculty of Microbiology, and Training Faculty of Biotechnology at North Carolina State University. In 2013, he was named a University Faculty Scholar. He teaches undergraduate and graduate classes on wastewater treatment plant design, environmental biotechnology and microbiology, fundamentals of environmental engineering, and water and sanitation for developing countries.

He has conducted workshops for wastewater treatment plant operators and professionals in the US and the Philippines. He has also worked in water and sanitation issues in developing countries, and has collaborations in the Philippines, India, China, South Africa, Belgium, and Malawi. He is a TED Fellow (, and his TED talk on sanitation has been viewed over 750,000 times. He has received the Gordon Fair Award in Environmental Engineering Education, the Outstanding Teacher, Outstanding Extension, and Global Outreach Awards from NC State, and is a Balik-Scientist awardee of the Philippine Government. He was named Outstanding Alumnus of the University of the Philippines, Outstanding Young Alumnus of Iowa State University, and Outstanding Alumnus of Phil. Science HS. He has received the US National Science Foundation CAREER Award.

His students have won state (NC AWWA/WEA), national (WEF, AAEE) and international (IWA) awards for research presentations and posters. Current and past research projects include: molecular analysis and modeling of the competition between filaments and floc-formers in activated sludge, ecophysiology of nitrifiers and denitrifiers in microbial floc, N removal from swine waste, fate of bioagents in landfills, microbial characterization of landfills, molecular techniques for groundwater remediation sites, foam control methods, factors affecting fats, oils, and grease deposits in sewers, wastewater treatment for rural areas, water reuse systems, novel molecular techniques for detecting denitrifiers, energy from co-digestion, and solving pit latrine emptying problems.

Dr. de los Reyes is on the editorial board of Phil. Science Letters, and has served on the editorial boards of Water Research and J. of Environ. Eng.. He is a Past President of the Philippine-American Academy of Scientists and Engineers. He has been a consultant for industry, engineering firms, and public utilities on activated sludge operation, solids separation problems, sanitation technologies, and molecular microbiology techniques.


Ph.D. 2000

Environmental Engineering

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

M.S. 1994

Civil Engineering

Iowa State University

B.S. 1990

Agricultural Engineering

University of the Philippines at Los Banos

Research Description

Dr. de los Reyes' research focuses on biological processes and combines modeling, bioreactor experiments, and molecular microbial ecology tools in addressing fundamental and practical issues in environmental biotechnology and environmental engineering. Another research focus is sanitation in developing countries. He is interested in two main areas: the interface between microbial ecology and environmental engineering, and global sanitation. At the ecology-engineering interface, molecular techniques are utilized as powerful tools for the analysis of microbial populations in engineered and natural treatment systems. Environmental process engineering is approached from a fundamental standpoint, combining the insights from molecular (DNA- and RNA-based) approaches with innovative process experiments and modeling. In global water, sanitation, and hygiene (WaSH), improving the technologies along the entire sanitation chain is the main focus. His team has developed a new technology for safely and hygienically emptying pit latrines in Africa and Asia. His recent research includes structure-function studies in wastewater treatment systems, landfills, soils, and decentralized sanitation systems.

Honors and Awards

  • RELX Group Environmental Challenge Award (for the Flexcrevator), 2018
  • NC State Outstanding Teacher Award, 2018
  • AAEES Excellence in Environmental Engineering and Science Research, Honor Award, 2017
  • Steven K. Dentel/AEESP Global Outreach Award, 2017
  • WEF Gordon Fair Outstanding Engineering Educator Award, 2015
  • Univ. of the Philippines Los Banos Outstanding Alumnus, 2015
  • UP Alumni Association of America Outstanding Alumnus, 2015
  • NC State Alumni Outstanding Extension Award, 2015
  • NC State Academy of Outstanding Faculty in Extension and Engagement, 2015
  • Marist School Outstanding Alumnus Award, 2015
  • University Faculty Scholar, 2014
  • Outstanding Global Engagement Award, 2014
  • AEESP (Assoc. of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors) Service Award, 2013
  • Transatlantic Partnership in Excellence in Engineering Scholarship, 2013
  • NCSU At Home in the World Faculty Fellow, 2013
  • Koh Lectureship Award in Engineering, Philippine-American Academy of Scientists and Engineers, 2013
  • Jackson Rigney International Service Award, 2012
  • Outstanding Alumnus of Philippine Science HS for Environmental Engineering and Biotechnology, 2011
  • Iowa State University Outstanding Young Alumnus Award, 2010
  • NCSU Earthwise Award, 2010
  • TED Fellow, 2009
  • NSF CAREER Award, 2000


Assessment of alternative herbicides for residential sewer root treatment and their effects on downstream treatment plant nitrification
, (2020). Journal of Environmental Management, 258, 110058.
Fat, oil, and grease (FOG) deposits yield higher methane than FOG in anaerobic co-digestion with waste activated sludge
, (2020). Journal of Environmental Management, 268, 110708.
Increased loading stress leads to convergence of microbial communities and high methane yields in adapted anaerobic co-digesters
, (2020). Water Research, 169, 115155.
Modeling cell aggregate morphology during aerobic granulation in activated sludge processes reveals the combined effect of substrate and shear
, (2020). Water Research, 170(115384).
Wastewater-Based Epidemiology: Global Collaborative to Maximize Contributions in the Fight Against COVID-19
, (2020). Environmental Science & Technology.
Dynamic Modeling of Microalgae Growth and Lipid Production under Transient Light and Nitrogen Conditions
Wang, D., Lai, Y.-C., Karam, A. L., de los Reyes, F. L., III, & Ducoste, J. J. (2019), Environmental Science & Technology, 53(19), 11560–11568.
Global diversity and biogeography of bacterial communities in wastewater treatment plants
Wu, L., Ning, D., Zhang, B., Li, Y., Zhang, P., Shan, X., … Brown, M. (2019), NATURE MICROBIOLOGY, 4(7), 1183–1195.
Measuring the Shape and Size of Activated Sludge Particles Immobilized in Agar with an Open Source Software Pipeline
Weaver, J. E., Williams, J. C., Ducoste, J. J., & de los Reyes, F. L., III. (2019), Journal of Visualized Experiments, 1(143).
Relating nitrogen concentration and light intensity to the growth and lipid accumulation of Dunaliella viridis in a photobioreactor
Lai, Y.-C., Karam, A. L., Sederoff, H. W., Ducoste, J. J., & de los Reyes, F. L. (2019), Journal of Applied Phycology, 8.
Systems and Methods for Studying Microbial Processes and Communities in Landfills
Weaver, J. E., Wang, L., de los Reyes, F. L., & Barlaz, M. A. (2019), In Advances in Environmental Microbiology (pp. 129–150).

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RAPID: Monitoring for SARS-CoV-2 in municipal wastewater and sewage to elucidate infection dynamics across major metropolitan areas of the United States
National Science Foundation (NSF)(5/15/20 - 4/30/21)
Intensification of Anaerobic Digestion: Co-Digestion of Grease Interceptor Waste (GIW) with Thermally Hydrolyzed (TH) Biosolids
NCSU-WRRI Urban Water Consortium(7/01/20 - 5/01/22)
Tertiary Anammox Filters for Sustainable Nitrogen Removal
NCSU Water Resources Research Institute(3/01/20 - 2/28/21)
Commercial Partner Engagement for Trash Excluder
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation(7/25/19 - 8/31/21)
Planning Grant: Engineering Research Center on Sanitation and Water Infrastructure of the Future for Marginalized Communities (SWIFt-MC)
National Science Foundation (NSF)(9/01/19 - 8/31/21)
Developing High-Yield, Resilient Anaerobic Co-Digestion of Alternative Wastes
Environmental Research & Education Foundation(10/01/18 - 3/30/21)
Quantifying Metabolically Active Ammonia-Oxidizing Bacteria and Archaea in Complex Soil Microbial Communities using Activity-Based Fluorescent Labeling
BASF Corporation(1/01/18 - 12/31/19)
Using Microbial Ecology Theory to Understand Microbial Community Dynamics and Improve Function of Anaerobic Bioreactors
National Science Foundation (NSF)(8/01/18 - 7/31/21)
Occurrence of Pesticides in North Carolina Private Drinking Water Wells and Identification of Point-of-Use Treatment Options
NCSU Water Resources Research Institute(3/01/18 - 12/31/20)
Molecular Profiling of the Prokaryotic Community in the Pitcher Fluid of Nepenthes Species from Mt. Makilin Forest Reserve, Philippines and Screening of the Bacterial Isolates for Insecticidal, Antimicrobial and Anticancer Activities
USAID STRIDE(4/01/17 - 4/28/18)