Jolien De Paepe is a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Antwerp in Belgium. She recently obtained her doctoral degree in Bioscience engineering at Ghent University and Biotechnology ath the Universitat Autonòma de Barcelona. During her PhD, which was funded by the MELiSSA Foundation, Jolien explored several technologies for resource recovery from urine.

Topic of study : Preparing Nitrogen recycling processes in the MELiSSA loop for operation in microgravity conditions by novel process control and sensoring



Radu Mircea Giurgiu is a nature-geek who at the end of 2016 obtained a PhD in Agronomy with a study on Medicinal Plants in Controlled Environment. He helps the life support technology transfer from space to terrestrial applications. In his work, he builds bridges between knowledge and technology to create waste-to-value food production systems being involved in multiple international projects gravitating around plant science, agri-food value chain, waste to resource and circular food systems.

Topic of study: From waste to taste: closing the MELiSSA loops under the framework of the Semilla Sanitation hubs project (LSS)





Pietro Guarato is a post-doctoral researcher in the Industrial Ecology group, led by Prof. Suren Erkman, at the Institute of Earth Surface Dynamics within the Faculty of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Lausanne.

His research aims at quantitatively assessing the anthropogenic impact on the global carbon cycle and the long-term sustainability of establishing «anthropogenic carbon loops» within the economy. This research is funded by the European Space Agency (ESA) through the MELiSSA Foundation and is in part conducted in collaboration with an important MELiSSA partner, Sherpa Engineering (Paris).      It takes place in the context of the deployment of technologies of carbon dioxide capture and storage (CCS) and carbon dioxide capture and utilization (CCU) as mitigation methods of the anthropogenic climate change. This topic is inquired from both a scientific perspective on one side, and a public policies and property rights one on the other.

Pietro received his PhD in Physics from the University of Geneva and his Master’s degree in the same discipline from the University of Padova. He also received a Master of Advanced Studies in Public Administration (MPA) from the University of Lausanne.

Topic of study: Closing anthropogenic carbon loops: towards implementing a circular economy


Carles Ciurans received his B.Sc. degree in Biotechnology in 2013 from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain, and the M.Sc. degree in Biochemical Engineering in 2017 from the University of Birmingham, UK. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the Université Clermont Auvergne (UCA) and in the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB). He has experience in the bioprocess industry and his research interests are oriented to modelling, control and optimization of bioprocesses with a focus on the design of Life Support System strategies.

Topic of study: MELiSSA Overall Control Loop and Possible strategy


Grace M. Crain received a Bachelor of Science in biology with a focus in plant ecology at Indiana University – Bloomington, USA in 2015. Following graduation, Crain worked as a native plant restoration and education intern with Point Blue Conservation Science in California, USA. In 2018, Crain received a Master of Science in desert biogeochemistry from the University of Texas – El Paso, USA, where she focused on nitrogen and phosphorus cycling in biological soil crust dominated soils.

Currently, Crain is a doctoral researcher in the Group of Plant Nutrition at ETH Zurich working on the European Space Agency’s MELiSSA (Micro-Ecological Life Support System Alternative) Project as a POMP II. Her research focuses on hydroponic crop production with human urine derived waste products with an emphasis on plant physiology and nutrient (re)cycling.

Topic of study: Hydroponic crop production with human derived waste products


Valentin Faust did his Bachelor in Environmental Engineering at ETH Zurich in Switzerland. During his Bachelor Thesis («Residence time of urine in a urine collection system»), he discovered the beauty of urine source separation. Between his Bachelor and Master program, Faust was working as an intern in the research department of a company producing waterless urinals. 2016 he graduated with a Master’s degree in environmental engineering from ETH Zurich with majors in urban water management and water resource management.

Following graduation, Faust was working at Eawag as a research assistant joining the AUTARKY project focusing on urine treatment and in an engineering office designing WWTP. In 2018, Faust started his PhD at Eawag supervised by Prof. Kai M. Udert focusing on process stabilization of urine nitrification. The PhD is part of MELiSSA’s POMP II program and is co-supervised by Prof. Ramon Ganigué and Prof. Nico Boon from UGhent and Prof. Siegfried Vlaeminck from UAntwerp.

Topic of study: Alkalinity-limited urine nitrification for space application - Process stabilization


Ellen Harrison is a MELiSSA POMP II PhD Candidate. Ellen graduated from the University of St Andrews with a BSc in Marine Biology. She then completed an MRes at the University of Plymouth in association with the Marine Biological Association, investigating nutrient sensing in diatoms. Ellen started her PhD at the University of Cambridge, in partnership with SCK CEN, in 2018, investigating how bacteria and algae in co-culture can provide vitamin B12 for human consumption on long space missions.

Topic of study: The use of synthetic ecology for the provision of vitamin B12 for human consumption on long space missions


Tinh Van Nguyen is a second-year PhD student at Division of Soil and Water Management, KU Leuven, Belgium. He holds a master’s degree in Interuniversity Programme in Molecular Biology (IPMB), is jointly organised by KU Leuven, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, and Universiteit Antwerpen. He is interested in Molecular biology and Environmental microbiology. Currently, his doctoral research investigates the metabolic interactions within the microbial community of the MELiSSA waste degradation compartment C1.

Topic of study: Definition and characterization of the metabolic interactions within the microbial community of the, MELiSSA waste degradation compartment C1


Regenerative Life Support Systems for Long Term Space Missions

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