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, Brazil, and Malawi. He is a TED Fellow (, and his TED talk on sanitation has been viewed over 700,000 times. He received the Gordon Fair Award in Environmental Engineering Education in 2015, the Outstanding Extension Award 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 boards of J. Environ. Eng. and Phil. Science Letters, and has served on the editorial board of Water Research. He has been a consultant for industry, engineering firms, and public utilities on activated sludge operation, solids separation problems, 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 recent research includes structure-function studies in wastewater treatment systems, landfills, soils, and decentralized sanitation systems.

Honors and Awards

  • 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,
  • 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,


Quantifying in situ growth rate of a filamentous bacterial species in activated sludge using rrna:rdna ratio
Nguyen, V. L., He, X., & de los Reyes, F. L. (2016), FEMS Microbiology Letters, 363(22).
Shifts in microbial communities in bioaugmented grease interceptors removing fat, oil, and grease (FOG)
He, X., So, M. J., & de los Reyes, F. L. (2016), Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, 100(16), 7025-7035.
Modified auger for pit latrine desludging in developing countries
Sisco, T., Rogers, T., & de los Reyes, F. (2015), In Humanitarian technology: science, systems and global impact 2015, humtech2015. (Procedia Engineering, 107) (pp. 427-429).
Aerosolization of a human norovirus surrogate, bacteriophage MS2, during simulated vomiting
Tung-Thompson, G., Libera, D. A., Koch, K. L., de los Reyes, F. L., & Jaykus, L. A. (2015), PLoS One, 10(8).
A methodological framework for linking bioreactor function to microbial communities and environmental conditions
de los Reyes, F. L., Weaver, J. E., & Wang, L. (2015), Current Opinion in Biotechnology, 33, 112-118.
Structural integrity affects nitrogen removal activity of granules in semi-continuous reactors
Mota, C. R., Head, M. A., Williams, J. C., Eland, L., Cheng, J. J., & de los Reyes, F. L. (2014), Biodegradation (Dordrecht), 25(6), 923-934.
Power earth auger modification for waste extraction from pit latrines
Rogers, T. W., de los Reyes, F. L., Beckwith, W. J., & Borden, R. C. (2014), Journal of water sanitation and hygiene for development, 4(1), 72-80.
Mechanisms of fat, oil and grease (FOG) deposit formation in sewer lines
He, X., De los Reyes, F. L., Leming, M. L., Dean, L. O., Lappi, S. E., & Ducoste, J. J. (2013), Water Research, 47(13), 4451-4459.
Determining the limits of anaerobic co-digestion of thickened waste activated sludge with grease interceptor waste
Wang, L., Aziz, T. N., & de los Reyes, F. L. (2013), Water Research, 47(11), 3835-3844.
Physico-chemical characterization of grease interceptors with and without biological product addition
He, X., Osborne, J., & de los Reyes, F. L. (2012), Water Environment Research, 84(3), 195-201.

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Improving Start-up and Operation of Anaerobic Co-Digestion of Grease Interceptor Waste
NCSU Water Resources Research Institute(3/01/15 - 12/31/16)
Improving the Anaerobic Treatment of Biosolids and High-Strength Waste Streams through Addition of Electrically-Conductive Particles
NCSU Water Resources Research Institute(3/01/15 - 12/31/16)
A Research Initiative to Develop Advanced Bio-Processing of Organic Residuals
NCSU Research and Innovation Seed Funding Program(7/01/14 - 6/30/15)
Reliable and Hygienic Pit Emptying System Using Modified Power Augers
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation(10/09/13 - 2/28/17)
Microbial Ecosystem Services: Identifying Global Solutions From Genes to Communities
National Academies Keck Futures Initiative(5/01/12 - 9/01/13)
Inducing Aerobic Granulation in Continuous-Flow Reactors using Shear Variability
National Science Foundation (NSF)(8/15/13 - 7/31/17)
EFRI-PSBR:Closing the Loop- Towards a PSBR Design Framework for Self-Sustained Marine Microalgal-Based Fuel Production
National Science Foundation (NSF)(9/01/13 - 8/31/17)
Sustainable Anaerobic Co-Digestion of Grease Interceptor Waste
NCSU Water Resources Research Institute(3/01/13 - 6/28/14)
Effects of Kenaf on Wastewater Treatment Plant Performance and Microbiology
NC Rural Economic Development Center(2/23/11 - 12/31/14)
Microbial Risk Assessment of Graywater Reuse using Quantitative Molecular Approaches
NCSU Water Resources Research Institute(3/01/11 - 12/31/12)