Skip to toolbar
Stefan Wuertz
Research Director (Environmental Engineering)
Singapore Centre on Environmental Life Sciences Engineering

Professor Stefan Wuertz teaches and performs research at the interface of microbiology and environmental engineering. He is Research Director for Environmental Engineering at the Singapore Centre for Environmental Life Sciences Engineering (SCELSE). He graduated from the National University of Ireland with a BSc degree in Microbiology, and subsequently received his PhD degree from the University of Massachusetts in 1992. In 2001, he completed his Habilitation in Environmental Biotechnology at the Technical University of Munich and joined the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of California, Davis. In 2007, he was awarded a Marie Curie Experienced Researcher Fellowship to return to Ireland on a sabbatical leave. He has been at NTU since 2011 where he co-founded SCELSE, and in 2019 became its Deputy Director, Education and Training. In 2016 he joined NTU full time as Professor of Environmental Engineering in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

Research Statement

Professor Stefan Wuertz teaches and performs research at the interface of microbiology and environmental engineering. His research focuses on the structure and function of microbial communities in engineered treatment systems. He specialises in biofilm systems in wastewater treatment, the use of molecular tools to describe microbial communities and biological processes, and developing methodology to detect low-level pathogens in the environment. His research team develops bioprocesses and investigates environmental solutions to create novel and multi-scale interactive engineering platforms for multiple purposes, such as the production of single cell protein from waste streams as a feed source and biological nutrient removal in used water treatment systems. As a prolific researcher and educator steeped in both environmental engineering and life sciences disciplines, he strongly believes in studying fundamental biological and physicochemical processes to develop new technology that is sustainable and market-ready in the long term.


Research One-liner

Professor Stefan Wuertz teaches and performs research at the interface of microbiology and environmental engineering to turn waste into useful products and ensure that water is safe to drink and enjoy.

  • Flemming H.C. and Wuertz S. (2019) Bacteria and archaea on Earth and their abundance in biofilms. Nat. Microbiol. Rev., s41579-019-0158-9

We explored the relevance of bacterial biofilms in all habitats on our planet in a quantitative way.

We used ecological theory to understand how microbial communities evolve when under stress.

  • Rajal, V. B., B. S. McSwain, D.E. Thompson, C. M. Leutenegger, B. Kildare, and S. Wuertz. (2007) Validation of hollow fiber ultrafiltration and real time PCR using bacteriophage PP7 as surrogate for the quantification of viruses from water samples. Water Res. 41:1411-1422.

We laid the foundation for a quantitative approach towards detection of viruses in the environment by molecular means combined with large volume filtration.


Latest Projects
  • SGD 752,952         Wuertz (PI), Yung (Co-PI)

09/2017 to 08/2020 (extended)

“Microbe-sediment interactions in the coastal marine environment: fate and transport of pathogens relevant to health and farming”

Marine Science R&D Program, NRF

  • SGD 3,879,500Wuertz (PI)

Hu Shiao, Jorgen Schlundt, Qian

Shunzhi, Nik Lindley, Diana Chan

Pek Sian (Co-PIs)

“Recovery and microbial synthesis of high-value aquaculture feed additives from food-processing wastewater”

The CRP proposal was approved by NRF for the duration of 4 years starting January 1, 2020.

  • SGD 55,380     Wuertz (PI)

Maria Yung (Co-PI)

“Prevalence of antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) in marine sediments along the Johor Straits of Singapore”

The Marine Science R&D Program proposal was approved by NRF for the duration of 1 year starting September 1, 2019.

  • SGD 4,144,517   Janelle Thompson (SCELSE-NTU) and Eric Alm (MIT/SMART

(Lead PIs)

Karina Gin (NUS), Monamie Haines (NTU), Eng Eong Ooi (Duke-NUS), Jenny Low (Singapore General Hospital), Stefan Wuertz (SCELSE), Hsu Li Yang (NUS-SCELSE), Wee Hwee Lin (NUS) (all Co-PIs)

“Sewage-based surveillance for rapid outbreak detection and intervention in Singapore”

The INTRA-CREATE thematic proposal was approved by National Research Foundation (NRF) for the duration of 3 years starting April 1, 2020.

In February 2020, we also responded to an urgent request from National Environment Agency (NEA) to support their COVID-19 task force in the following ongoing internal project:

  •   Ng Lee Ching (NEA team leader)

Prof. Karina Gin (NUS), Prof. Janelle Thompson (NTU/SCELSE), Prof. Eric Alm (MIT/SMART), Prof. Stefan Wuertz (NTU/SCELSE), Dr. Wei Lin Lim (SMART), Dr. Xiaoqiong Gu (SMART) – all considered collaborators

“Detection and Surveillance of Novel Coronavirus 2019-nCoV in Sewage Samples in Singapore”

Advice to young researchers

Make a plan for your scientific career and remain open to surprising opportunities.

Other affiliation(s)

Professor, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, College of Engineering

Expert Areas
Biofilms, environmental engineering, public health

Research Interests
Biofilms, biological processes in, microbial communities, pathogen detection, public health

Research Category
Engineering & Technology, Life Sciences & Biomedicine, Natural Sciences
Research Sub-category
Civil and Environmental Engineering, Interface of Biology and Engineering (Engineering in Biology), Water and Sustainability
NISTH Assigned Topic Groupings
Circular economy & waste reduction
Affiliated Sustainable Development Goals
GOAL 6: CLEAN WATER AND SANITATION – Clean, accessible water for all is an essential part of the world we want to live in.
GOAL 12: RESPONSIBLE CONSUMPTION AND PRODUCTION – Responsible Production and Consumption.
GOAL 13: CLIMATE ACTION – Climate change is a global challenge that affects everyone, everywhere.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as the Global Goals, were adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015 as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030.
Last Updated
25 Apr 2020
Last Updated
13 Sep 2020