Rob Nicol

Adjunct faculty
Phone number: 
(519) 674-1500 Ext. 63641


BES University of Waterloo
MSc University of Ottawa
PhD University of Western Ontario


I mainly complete research on the development of biofuels and other types of renewable energy, as well as the bioconversion of biofuel co-products to useful chemicals.  For example, I am currently working on biodiesel production from plant or recycled oils.  I am also using microbes (algae, bacteria and fungi) to remediate biodiesel waste streams and to create new biofuel feedstocks and bioproducts.

I am the biofuels lead researcher at the Centre for Agricultural Renewable Energy and Sustainability (CARES) based at Ridgetown Campus (  This has allowed me to work at the large scale of the biodiesel demonstration facility as well at the lab bench scale (and at other places in between).

I also complete research on plant-microbe and plant-insect interactions, usually within agroecosystems.  I have been working on the chemical ecology of ginseng and the role ginseng phytochemicals play in the fungal diseases of this crop for several years.  In addition, I am currently conducting an ongoing investigation into the biodiversity of insects in biomass crops.

Current Research Projects:

  • in partnership with an industrial ethanol producer, I am evaluating the use of yeasts to convert biofuel co-products to oil and biosurfactants
  • in partnership with a greenhouse vegetable producer, I am investigating the efficacy of bioresource and wastewater formulations in controlling plant pathogens and acting as a source of renewable nutrients 
  • in partnership with a waste diversion company and the National Research Council, I am investigating biogas production from alternative feedstocks


18. Marchand, K. Lubtiz, W.D. and R.W. Nicol. 2013. Utilization of biodiesel derived crude glycerol by fungal isolates for biomass and single cell oil production. Journal of Biobased Materials and Bioenergy 7: 415-419

17. De Resende, et al. 2013. Synergistic co-processing of red mud waste from the Bayer process and crude glycerol waste stream from bio-diesel production. Green Chemistry 15: 496-510

16. Bjornsson, W.J. Nicol, R.W., Dickinson, K.E. and P.J. McGinn. 2013. Anaerobic digestates are useful nutrient sources for microalgae cultivation: Functional coupling of energy and biomass production. Journal of Applied Phycology 25; 1523-1528

15. Nicol, R.W., Marchand, K. and Lubitz, W.D. 2012. Bioconversion of crude glycerol by fungi. Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology 93:1865-1875

14. Nicol, R.W., Bahrami, S, MacAlpine, M., Uher, M., Voroney, P. 2011. Biodiesel wastewater reduces nitrogen volatilization during composting of poultry litter.  Peer-reviewed research paper published in the Proceedings of the International Conference on Environmental Pollution and Remediation. Paper 257.

13. Bernards, M.A., Ivanov, D.A., Neculai, M.A. and Nicol, R.W. 2011. Ginsenosides: phytoanticipins or host recognition factors? Recent Advances in Phytochemistry 41: 13-32

12. Lamers, A., Wilson, K.E., Lubitz, W.D. and Nicol, R.W. 2009. Cultivation of algae in wastewater for remediation and biodiesel production applications. Phycologia 48: 93


NSERC, OMAF, OMAFRA, Agricultural Adaptation Council


Arthur Neish Young Investigator Award, Phytochemical Society of North America