Researcher biography


Steven Pratt is an Associate Professor in the School of Chemical Engineering at The University of Queensland, where he leads research on process development for sustainable waste management. His research focus is on utilising waste streams as feedstocks for the production of biomaterials and biofuels. The outcomes from these activities feed into broader biorefinery research programs, which aim for waste streams to be routinely utilised as feedstocks.

He has authored over 50 scientific papers on related topics, with his major contribution to the field of environmental biotechnology being the invention of the TOGA® Sensor for examination and control of biotech/bioprocess systems. Widespread interest in TOGA® led to an agreement between Massey University and Scion for the commercialisation of the technology.

He is also a Lecturer in Water Cycle Engineering with the International Water Centre (IWC), where he is program advisor for the IWC’s Masters of Integrated Water Management.


Dr Pratt’s main research interest is utilisation of wastewater to support bioplastic and mass algal production. He is a CI on ARC funded research on both bioplastic production (in collaboration with NorskeSkog and Anoxkaldnes, a Veolia company) and algal processes (in collaboration with Origin Energy). A driving force for the work is that feedstocks for industrial biotechnology, whether they be carbon or nutrients, can represent major economic and environmental cost. Currently, the research focus is on using waste organic carbon as a feedstock for mixed culture PHA bioplastic production and waste inorganic carbon and nutrients to support mass algae growth. An important aspect of the work is developing pre-treatment technology so to enable the conversion of complex waste streams to readily bioavailable substrates.

Teaching and Learning:

Dr Pratt has taught a variety of courses in process engineering, including Clean Technology and Environmental Biotechnology. He is currently coordinator of Process Principles, a cornerstone of the process engineering programs.

He is Program Advisor for the International Water Centre’s Masters of Integrated Water Management. In that program he contributes to the delivery of the Science of Water and Urban Metabolism courses.

Additionally, he teaches into the IWES Principles of Wastewater Treatment course, which has an intake of about 100 professionals each year.


  1. Intracellular manufacturing – high performance biomaterials from methane. [ARC Discovery]​
  2. Novel bioderived and biodegradable wood plastic composites from wastes. [ARC Linkage]
  3. Stabilisation of algal biomass harvested from coal seam gas associated water to generate a renewable, high nutrient resource. [ARC Linkage]
  4. Adsorption on activated alumina: mitigating fouling of water treatment processes caused by deposition of silica, organics and hardness ions. [ARC Linkage]
  5. Next generation biopolymers – Production of PHA bioplastics from organic waste. [ARC Linkage