NSF-AEESP Grand Challenges Workshops - Arlington Participants

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This page contains the Speakers and Discussion Leaders for the Arlington, VA Grand Challenges Workshop at Virginia Tech's Research Center May 19-20, 2106.  It will be updated as we approach the Workshop, so please check back often.

*Click here for Speakers and Discussion Leaders of the USC Workshop at USC January 7-8, 2016.
*Click here for Speakers and Discussion Leaders of the Texas Workshop at Rice University March 31-April 1, 2016.

Confirmed Speakers and Discussion Leaders:

Tami Bond, Nathan M. Newmark Distinguished Professor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Presentation: "Redefining Environmental Engineering in the Anthropocene Era"
Dr. Tami Bond is the Nathan M. Newmark Distinguished Professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in Civil and Environmental Engineering, an Affiliate Professor in Atmospheric Sciences, and a 2014 John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellow. Dr. Bond's research addresses the aerosol chemistry, physics, and optics that govern the environmental impacts of particles from combustion. Her work includes laboratory studies of aerosol behavior, field measurements of emissions from small combustion sources, development of global emission inventories, and future emission projections. Dr. Bond is a Fellow of American Geophysical Union and a member of American Association for Aerosol Research. She serves on a National Academy Panel on the Future of Atmospheric Chemistry Research and as Convenor for a technical committee working group in ISO on Clean Cookstoves and Clean Cooking Solutions. Dr. Bond earned a Ph.D. in Atmospheric Sciences, Civil Engineering and Mechanical Engineering at the University of Washington, and an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California at Berkeley.

Ed Bouwer, Department Chair, Geography and Environmental Engineering, Johns Hopkins University
Dr. Edward J. Bouwer earned his Ph.D. in environmental engineering and science from Stanford University, Stanford, CA in 1982. He is the Abel Wolman Professor of Environmental Engineering and Department Chair in the Geography and Environmental Engineering Department at the Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Bouwer has extensive experience with drinking water and wastewater treatment processes, microbial process engineering, and contaminant transport and fate. Dr. Bouwer’s research interests encompasses factors that influence biotransformation of contaminants, bioremediation for control of contaminated soils and groundwaters, biofilm kinetics, biological processes design in wastewater, industrial, and drinking water treatment, transport and fate of microorganisms in porous media, behavior of metals in contaminated sediments, and defining and managing environmental risks.  Dr. Bouwer has served on several National Research Council committees that provide guidance on managing human and ecological risks to Congress, regulatory agencies, and the scientific community. He serves as the Editor in Chief for Biodegradation and on the editorial boards for J. Contaminant Hydrology and Environmental Engineering Science.

Glen Daigger, Professor of Engineering Practice, University of Michigan; President and Founder, One Water Solutions, LLC
Presentation: "Redefining Environmental Engineering and Science (EES) in the 21st Century: Closing the Knowing/Doing Gap"
Dr. Daigger is currently Professor of Engineering Practice at the University of Michigan and President and Founder of One Water Solutions, LLC, a water engineering and innovation firm.  He previously served as Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer for CH2M HILL where he was employed for 35 years, as well as Professor and Chair of Environmental Systems Engineering at Clemson University.  Actively engaged in the water profession through major projects, and as author or co-author of more than 100 technical papers, four books, and several technical manuals, he contributes to significantly advance practice within the water profession.  Deeply involved in professional activities, he is currently Immediate Past President of the International Water Association (IWA).  The recipient of numerous awards, including the Kappe, Freese, and Feng lectures and the Harrison Prescott Eddy, Morgan, and the Gascoigne Awards, he is a Distinguished Member of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), a Distinguished Fellow of IWA, and a Fellow of the Water Environment Federation (WEF).  A member of a number of professional societies, Dr. Daigger is also a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineers.

Gary Geernaert, Director, Climate and Environmental Sciences Division, U.S. Department of Energy
Presentation: "DOE Climate and Environmental Sciences Division"
Gerald (Gary) Geernaert is Director, Climate and Environmental Sciences Division, at the US Department of Energy.  In addition, he is the Vice-Chair of the US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), and he serves as the DOE Principal to several CENRS subcommittees, within the Office of Science and Technology Policy.  In his role as DOE Division Director, he leads strategic planning for the climate sciences, and directs the investment of approximately $300M/year to science projects conducted by National Laboratories, Universities, and industry.  Dr. Geernaert earned a B.S. in Atmospheric Sciences from the University of California, Davis, with minor in applied mathematics; and PhD in Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington.   Before joining DOE, Dr. Geernaert spent 8 years as Director, Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics, at Los Alamos National Laboratory; prior to LANL, he spent 8 years as Director, Atmospheric Environment Department, Danish National Environmental Research Institute.  In addition, he served as a Danish national representative to the Nordic Council of Ministers Air-Sea Policy Group; President, Danish Atmospheric Research Society; Program Manager, Office of Naval Research; and has conducted research at the US Naval Research Laboratory and Scripps Institute of Oceanography.  He has written and published 4 books and over 100 journal articles and reports throughout his career.

Joe Hughes, Professor and Dean of Engineering, Drexel University
Dr. Hughes is the Dean of the College of Engineering and founding director of the A.J. Drexel Institute for Energy and the Environment. His background is in biological processes and applications of nanotechnology in environmental systems. Before coming to Drexel in 2012, he served as a professor of civil, environmental and materials science engineering at Georgia Tech. His research focuses on environmental biotechnology and in particular, determining how novel metabolic capabilities of living organisms can be harnessed to improve environmental quality.


Kimberly Jones, Professor and Chair, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Howard University
Dr. Kimberly L. Jones is a professor of Environmental Engineering and Chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Howard University in Washington, DC. She holds a B.S in Civil Engineering from Howard University, a M.S. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of Illinois in Champaign, IL and a Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering from The Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Jones’ research interests include developing membrane processes for environmental applications, physical-chemical processes for water and wastewater treatment, remediation of emerging contaminants, drinking water quality, and environmental nanotechnology. Dr. Jones currently serves on the Chartered Science Advisory Board of the US Environmental Protection Agency, and as chair of the Drinking Water Committee of the Science Advisory Board. She has served on the Water Science and Technology Board of the National Academy of Sciences, and the Board of Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors, where she was Secretary of the Board.  She has served on several committees of the National Academy of Science and the Institute of Medicine.  She served as the Deputy Director of the Keck Center for Nanoscale Materials for Molecular Recognition at Howard University. She also serves on the Center Steering Committee of the Center for the Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology (CEINT). Dr. Jones has received a Top Women in Science Award from the National Technical Association, the Outstanding Young Civil Engineer award from University of Illinois Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, a NSF CAREER Award, an Outstanding Leadership and Service and Outstanding Faculty Mentor award from Howard University, and Top Women Achievers award from Essence Magazine. She also served as an associate editor of the Journal of Environmental Engineering (ASCE).

Jordan Kern, Research Assistant Professor, Institute for the Environment at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Presentation: "Implications of a More Decoupled Water-Energy Future"
Jordan Kern is a research assistant professor in the Institute for the Environment at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His research and teaching combines power systems engineering, hydrology and environmental science with finance, economics and risk management.  He is interested in the vulnerability of energy systems to uncertainty in economic and natural systems, as well as the role that technological and regulatory change play in influencing these risks and the impacts of energy systems on the natural environment.

Debra Knopman, Principal Researcher, RAND Corporation
Presentation: "Redefining Environmental Engineering and Science: Observations from the Field"
Debra Knopman is a principal researcher at the RAND Corporation and a professor at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. She served as vice president and director of RAND Infrastructure, Safety, and Environment (later Justice, Infrastructure, and Environment) from 2004 to 2014.

Knopman's expertise is in hydrology, environmental and natural resources policy, systems analysis and operations research, and public administration. Her project work spans a range of topics including long-term water management, policy options for disposition of nuclear waste, governance and funding for U.S. Gulf Coast recovery, and the design of a National Research Fund for Qatar.

She served for six years (1997–2003) as a member of the Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board and chaired the board's Site Characterization Panel. She was the director of the Progressive Policy Institute's Center for Innovation and the Environment from 1995 to 2000. From 1993 to 1995, Knopman was the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Water and Science, U.S. Department of the Interior. She had previously been a research hydrologist at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and later chief of the Branch of Systems Analysis in the USGS's Water Resources Division. From 1979 to 1983, she served first as legislative assistant for energy and environmental issues to Senator Daniel P. Moynihan and then as professional staff member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

JoAnn Slama Lighty, Division Director for Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental, and Transport Systems (CEBET), National Science Foundation
From 2013, Dr. JoAnn Slama Lighty has been Division Director, ENG/CBET, at the National Science Foundation Prof. Lighty has also been on the faculty at the University of Utah since 1988. Before moving to the NSF, she was chair of Chemical Engineering. She stepped down as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the College of Engineering in July 2004 having been in the Dean’s Office for 9 years. She was the founding director of for the Institute for Combustion and Energy Studies (now ICSE) from 2004-2007.

Prof. Lighty’s research interests are in the areas of air toxics, combustion-generated aerosols and their characterization; soot formation and oxidation; and technologies for carbon capture from coal-fired combustion systems. She has been involved in the Southwest Consortium for Environmental Research and Policy, the Center for the Simulation of Accidental Fires and Explosions (C- SAFE), and a National Science Foundation, Nanoscale Interdisciplinary Research Team (NIRT) award focused on the formation of soot from diesel engines. Her current work involves studying soot oxidation under fuel-­‐lean conditions, ash partitioning under oxy-coal combustion, and chemical looping economics. She received the SWE Distinguished Engineering Educator in 2004, Utah Engineering Educator of the Year Award in 2001 and has been on several national and university committees, including: Environmental Protection Agency, Science Advisory Board Environmental Engineering Committee and Subcommittee on Particle Monitoring; Presidential Commission on the Status of Women for the University of Utah; and the Board of the Academy for Math, Engineering, and Science (AMES) Charter School (founding member). She is a By-Fellow of Churchill College, University of Cambridge, for the Michaelmas Term 2010.

Rachel Melnick, National Program Leader, Agroclimatology and Production Science, U.S. Department of Agriculture
Presentation: "USDA NIFA Food, Energy, and Water"
Rachel Melnick is the National Program Leader for Agroclimatology and Production Science at USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).  She leads competitive programs in the AFRI Climate Change Challenge Area, Innovations at the Nexus of Food, Energy and Water Systems (INFEWs) with NSF, and SBIR Plant Production and Protection – Engineering.  Rachel the agency representative to the USDA Regional Climate hub Executive Council; and USDA representative to the Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Act interagency working group, the Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee, US Global Change Task Force Observations Working Group.

Jim Mihelcic, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and State of Florida 21st Century World Class Scholar, University of South Florida
Presentation: "The Grandest Challenge of All: The Role of Environmental Engineering to Achieve Sustainability in the World's Developing Regions"
James R. Mihelcic is a Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and State of Florida 21st Century World Class Scholar at the University of South Florida. He directs the Peace Corps Master’s International Program in Civil & Environmental Engineering and an EPA-funded National Research Center for Reinventing Aging Infrastructure for Nutrient Management.   Dr. Mihelcic is a past president of the Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors (AEESP), a member of the EPA Chartered Science Advisory Board, a Board Certified Environmental Engineering Member and Board Trustee of the American Academy of Environmental Engineers & Scientists (AAEES).  He is lead author for 3 textbooks: Fundamentals of Environmental Engineering (John Wiley & Sons, 1999); Field Guide in Environmental Engineering for Development Workers: Water, Sanitation, Indoor Air (ASCE Press, 2009); and, Environmental Engineering: Fundamentals, Sustainability, Design (John Wiley & Sons, 2010, 2014).

Desirée Plata, Assistant Professor of Chemical & Environmental Engineering, Yale University
Presentation: "Controlling Matter at the Nanoscale to Reduce Global Impacts"
Desirée Plata’s research seeks to maximize technology’s benefit to society while minimizing undesirable environmental impacts in industrially important practices through the use of geochemical tools and chemical mechanistic insights. Plata earned her doctoral degree in Chemical Oceanography and Environmental Chemistry from the MIT/Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution’s Joint Program in Oceanography and her bachelors degree in Chemistry from Union College in Schenectady, NY. Plata is a National Academy of Engineers Frontiers of Engineering Fellow, a two-time National Academy of Sciences Kavli Frontiers of Science Fellow, and an NSF CAREER Award recipient. Plata is currently Assistant Professor of Chemical and Environmental Engineering at Yale University and Associate Director for Research at the Center for Green Chemistry and Green Engineering at Yale.

Maya Trotz, Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of South Florida
Maya A. Trotz, Ph.D., born in Georgetown, Guyana is an Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of South Florida (USF), Tampa. She works at the nexus of geochemistry/water quality and global/community sustainability and education with current student research projects in Barbados, Belize, and Guyana.  She received the 2014 Award for Outstanding Contribution to Environmental Engineering and Science Education from the Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors (AEESP), partly for her ability to integrate her research with K-12 and university education in the US and the Caribbean. In 2013 she received the inaugural Caribbean Science Foundation’s award for Distinguished Service. Since June 2015 she has been a board member of AEESP.  She received a Bachelor’s in Chemical Engineering with a minor in Theater from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and then a Master’s and Doctorate in Environmental Engineering from Stanford University. As a Postdoc, she taught at the National Technological University in Singapore on behalf of Stanford University.

John Volckens, Associate Professor and Director of the Center for Energy Developent and Health, Professor, Colorado State University
Presentation: "Future of Environmental Engineering and Science"
Dr. John Volckens is an associate professor and the Director of the Center for Energy Development and Health at Colorado State University. His research interests involve combustion science, occupational health, aerosol technology, and air pollution-related disease. He has pioneered the development of several new sensor technologies – resulting in two recent patents. Dr. Volckens is the recipient of the 'Best Paper' award from the American Industrial Hygiene Association Journal (1999) and the Journal of Indoor Air (2013). He has published over 50 manuscripts related to exposure science, aerosol technology, and air pollution-related disease. He is a co-founder of Access Sensor Technologies, a spinout company started through his research collaborations at Colorado State University.

Krista Wigginton, Assistant Professor and Borchardt and Glysson Water Treatment Faculty Scholar, University of Michigan
Presentation: "The Chemical Fate of Biological Pollutants in Treatment Processes"
Dr. Krista Rule Wigginton is an assistant professor and the Borchardt and Glysson Water Treatment Faculty Scholar in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Michigan. She received her B.S. in Chemistry at the University of Idaho and her M.S. and Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering at Virginia Tech. Her research team studies the fate of biomolecules and pathogens in engineered systems, with an emphasis on waterborne viruses and antibiotic resistance genes. Her honors include an NSF International Postdoctoral Fellowship and the NSF CAREER award.