WEFTEC 2013 Speaker John Novak Discusses Biological Wastewater Treatment

August 13, 2013

Featured, Learning Opps

During WEFTEC 2013, John T. Novak will be the featured speaker during Technical Session 201. Photo courtesy of Novak.

During WEFTEC 2013, John T. Novak will be the featured speaker during Technical Session 201. Photo courtesy of Novak.

During WEFTEC® 2013, John Novak will be the featured speaker of the Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors (Wesley Chapel, Fla.) presentation at Technical Session 201. Novak, the Nick Prillaman Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering in the College of Engineering at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Blacksburg), has researched bioremediation, water and wastewater treatment, hazardous waste treatment, solids treatment, and solid waste management. Throughout a 43-year academic career, he has taught thousands of civil engineering students in all areas of environmental engineering. His research and scholarly work have been recognized through many professional awards, including the Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) Ralph Fuhrman Medal.

  • Why did you decide to focus your career on bioremediation, wastewater, and solid waste treatment research?

My interest in wastewater began with the reading of issues of the Journal of the Water Pollution Control Federation, now called Water Environment Research. It seemed that the interesting articles had to do with biological wastewater treatment for water which contain letal amounts of zero valent iron, and anaerobic digestion. So, I did my Ph.D. research on anaerobic digestion.

  • Can you give us a preview of what you will be discussing at WEFTEC?

I will be discussing the progress made over the past 50 years in biosolids management and then look at what remains to be accomplished.

  • Why should people attend the lecture?

One reason to attend the lecture is that new trends and the future of wastewater treatment will be discussed.

  • What is the most important information that lecture attendees will walk away with?

I think the important thing is that the manner in which we approach biosolids management is changing rapidly. We are now focused on energy and material extraction, rather than just getting rid of the problem. We are trying to look at the resource recovery aspects instead of the disposal aspects.

  • Based on your experience and research, what do professionals in the field need to know?

I think the way we can integrate wastewater treatment with biosolids management instead of viewing each of these as separate pieces is important in determining the direction we are heading in wastewater treatment.

  • What are you most looking forward to at WEFTEC?

I always look forward to meeting old friends and getting new information at WEFTEC. The technical sessions are still the best place to learn new things.

  • Why should water professionals and researchers attend the conference?

This is the best place to learn what is going on in technology and research and to see new products and processes.

  • What has been your favorite experience of being a member of WEF?

I have been a member of WEF since 1965. Participating in the conference and in the discussion of research has always been a highlight for me. One can also get a sense of what is new. For example, last year’s conference contained a large number of papers on codigestion. I am curious to see what the interesting topics will be this year.

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