NSF-AEESP Grand Challenges Workshops Texas Participants


The Workshop participants page for the Virginia Tech Workshop will be made available soon, so please check back often.  This page contains the Speakers and Discussion Leaders for the Texas Grand Challenges Workshop at Rice University March 31 - April 1, 2106.

(*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 Arlington, VA Workshop at Virginia Tech Research Building May 19-20, 2016.)

Confirmed Speakers and Discussion Leaders:

Dr. Joshua Apte, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering, University of Texas at Austin
Presentation: "Air, Climate, Energy, and Health: Grand Challenges for Environmental Engineering"
Dr. Joshua Apte is an assistant professor in the Department of Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering at the University of Texas. Prior to joining UT-Austin, he was the ITRI-Rosenfeld Postdoctoral Fellow at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Dr. Apte’s core training is in air quality engineering and in techniques for air pollution exposure assessment: understanding the sources, physicochemical transformations, and spatial patterns of the pollution that people breathe, and methods for reducing these exposures. He also has experience in energy analysis and health risk assessment. Much of his research is motivated by a desire to identify means for improving the environmental sustainability of cities and the built environment, and to reduce inequities in exposures to environmental contaminants. He has a strong regional interest in Asia and elsewhere in the developing world.

Ms. Marilu Hastings, Vice President, Sustainability Program, Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation
Marilu Hastings is vice president, sustainability program for the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation in Austin where she leads all of the foundation’s strategic grantmaking programs. Current programs include clean energy, shale sustainability, water, and sustainability education. She has a 25 year career specializing in the interaction of science, public policy, and philanthropic investment.

Marilu is a member of the Energy Institute Advisory Board of the University of Texas at Austin; a member of the Science Advisory Board of the Environmental Law and Policy Center in Chicago; a trustee of the Regional Endowment for Sustainability Science, and a stakeholder advisor to the Southern Climate Impacts Planning Program, a Regional Integrated Science Assessment Team of NOAA. Marilu is a Fellow of the Houston Advanced Research Center.  Marilu earned a Bachelor of Arts in economics and political science from Duke University, an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and a Master of Public Affairs from the University of Texas at Austin.

Dr. Curtis R. Carlson, Ph.D., P.E., BCEE, Founder and CEO, The Practice of Innovation
Curtis R. Carlson, Ph.D., is a pioneer in the development and use of innovation best practices and an evangelist for innovation, education, and economic development, sharing best practices with government agencies, businesses, and foundations around the world.  Carlson is widely sought as a speaker and thought leader on innovation and global competitiveness. He advises U.S. governors, prime ministers, economic ministers, and education ministers around the world on innovation, competitiveness, and educational reform. He has been a senior adviser to the governments of Malaysia, Japan, Sweden, Denmark, Lithuania, and Finland. In 2014 he was the keynote speaker for Taiwan President Ma’s announcement of the first National Innovation Awards.

Jim Blackburn, J.D., Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Rice University
Presentation: "Redefining Environmental Engineering and Science: The Big Picture"
Jim Blackburn has been a practicing environmental lawyer and planner since 1973.  He is a Professor in the Practice of Environmental Law in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at Rice University where he teaches environmental law and sustainable design courses.  Blackburn is co-director of the Severe Storm Prediction, Education and Evacuation from Disaster (SSPEED) Center at Rice University where he is also a Rice Faculty Scholar at the Baker Institute and Director of the Undergraduate Minor in Energy and Water Sustainability.  He is owner of a planning firm called Sustainable Planning and Design and teaches courses in sustainable design and environmental law in Civil and Environmental Engineering at Rice.

Dr. Pedro J.J. Alvarez, Ph.D., P.E., BCEE, Director, NSF ERC on NEWT, George R. Brown Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Rice University
Pedro J.J. Alvarez is the George R. Brown Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Rice University, where he also serves as Director of the NSF ERC on Nanotechnology-Enabled Water Treatment (NEWT). His research interests include environmental implications and applications of nanotechnology, bioremediation, fate and transport of toxic chemicals, and antibiotic resistance control. Pedro is a Clarke Prize laureate and a past president of AEESP. He currently serves as Associate Editor of ES&T, and recently completed service on the EPA’s Science Advisory Board.

Dr. Ashlynn Stillwell, Assistant Professor, University of Illinois
Presentation: "The Energy-Water Nexus and the "New" Environmental Engineer"
Ashlynn Stillwell earned her B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Missouri (2006), and her M.S. in Environmental and Water Resources Engineering (2010), M.P.Aff. in Public Affairs (2010), and Ph.D. in Civil Engineering (2013) from The University of Texas at Austin.  Her honors include the American Water Works Association 2011 Academic Achievement Award for 2nd Place Master's Thesis and the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.  

Dr. Stillwell teaches CEE 498 Water Technology and Policy and CEE 350 Water Resources Engineering.

Dr. Robin Autenrieth, Head of Zachry Department of Civil Engineering, and Florence Wiley Professor III, Texas A&M University
Dr. Robin Autenrieth is a professor in the Zachry Department of Civil Engineering with a joint appointment in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health in the Health Science Center’s School of Rural Public Health. She holds the A.P. and Florence Wiley Professorship III in Civil Engineering.  Her research is focused on microbial systems for the degradation of target compounds (hormones, crude oil, petroleum products, explosives, chemical warfare agents, chlorinated agents, among a few others) contaminating soils and waters.  Physical and chemical processes are coupled to the microbial activity to understand the controlling parameters for optimization of performance. With an interest in improving the link between contaminant concentrations and human exposures for predicting the potential for adverse health effects, she and her students have been working on methods to improve the risk assessment of select compounds.

Dr. Richard D. Morgenstern, Senior Fellow, Resources for the Future
Richard Morgenstern’s research focuses on the economic analysis of environmental issues with an emphasis on the costs, benefits, evaluation, and design of environmental policies, especially economic incentive measures. His analysis also focuses on climate change, including the design of cost-effective policies to reduce emissions in the United States and abroad.  

Immediately prior to joining RFF, Morgenstern was senior economic counselor to the undersecretary for global affairs at the U.S. Department of State, where he participated in negotiations for the Kyoto Protocol. Previously he served at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, where he acted as deputy administrator (1993); assistant administrator for policy, planning, and evaluation (1991-93); and director of the Office of Policy Analysis (1983-95). Formerly a tenured professor at the City University of New York, Morgenstern has taught recently at Oberlin College, the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Yeshiva University, and American University. He has served on expert committees of the National Academy of Sciences and as a consultant to various organizations.

Dr. John Nielsen-Gammon, Regents Professor and Texas State Climatologist, Dept. of Atmospheric Sciences, Texas A&M University
Presentation: "Redefining Environmental Engineering and Science: Air and Climate Change"
Dr. Nielsen-Gammon’s weather-related work involves jet streams, extreme rainfall events, and land and sea breezes.  His air quality research includes field forecasting support, numerical simulation, and diagnostic analysis of ozone events in Houston and Dallas for the Texas Air Quality Studies in 2000 and 2005-6.  Dr. Nielsen-Gammon has also worked on drought monitoring and forecasting, air pollution climatology, and improvements to the climate data record.  He teaches courses in weather analysis, weather forecasting, climatology, and atmospheric dynamics.

Dr. Nielsen-Gammon received a Presidential Faculty Fellow award (now known as PECASE) from the National Science Foundation and the White House in 1996, a Distinguished Achievement Award in Teaching at Texas A&M University from the Association of Former Students in 1996, and was named a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society (AMS) in 2011.  He is Past President of the International Commission for Dynamical Meteorology and is past chair of the AMS Board on Higher Education.

Dr. Joe Brown, Assistant Professor in Environmental Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology
Presentation: "Global Water & Sanitation: Future Directions in Environmental Engineering and Science Research"
Joe Brown is an assistant professor in environmental engineering.  Brown comes to Georgia Tech from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, where he served as a lecturer in the Department of Disease Control, Faculty of Infectious and Tropical Diseases.  Brown’s research and teaching interests are at the intersection of environmental engineering and public health, including water infrastructure sustainability, detection methods for pathogens and pathogen indicators in the environment, water treatment technology characterization and innovation, and human health effects of exposure to waterborne pathogens.  His globally focused work currently spans four continents including active research projects in Cambodia, Zambia, Tanzania, Malawi, Pakistan, India, the United Kingdom, and the Southeastern USA.  He serves as PI on a USAID-funded project to study health impacts of urban sanitation expansion in Mozambique.  He is a Professional Engineer (PE) with licensure in North Carolina and Alabama.

Mr. Kei Koizumi, Assistant Director for Federal R&D at Office of Science and Technology Policy
Presentation: "The 2017 Budget: Investing in American Innovation"
Kei Koizumi is now Assistant Director for Federal Research and Development at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. He is known as a leading authority on the federal budget, federal support for research and development, science policy issues, and R&D funding data. He was the longtime Director of the R&D Budget and Policy Program at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), where he was the principal budget analyst, editor, and writer for the annual AAAS reports on federal R&D and the continually updated analyses of federal R&D on the AAAS R&D web site. He is widely quoted in the general and trade press on federal science funding issues and speaks on R&D funding trends and federal budget policy toward R&D to numerous public groups and seminars.

Kei Koizumi received his M.A. from the Center for International Science, Technology, and Public Policy program at the George Washington University and received his B.A. from Boston University in Political Science and Economics.

Dr. Desmond Lawler, Nassir I. Al-Rashid Chair in Civil Engineering, University of Texas at Austin
Dr. Desmond Lawler earned his Ph.D. in environmental engineering from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1980. He joined the faculty of The University of Texas at Austin in that same year. Lawler was named a University Distinguished Teaching Professor in 1997. In 1999, he received the A.P. Black Award for significant and sustained research contributions in drinking water from the American Water Works Association, the primary professional organization in North America devoted to improving drinking water quality and supply. Dr. Lawler's research includes both experimental and mathematical approaches in studying physical and chemical treatment processes for the treatment of drinking water, wastewater, and industrial process water.

Dr. Meagan Mauter, Assistant Professor, Chemical Engineering and Public Policy, Carnegie-Mellon University
Presentation: "Grand Challenges and Opportunities for Meeting Water Demand in a Carbon Constrained World"
Professor Meagan Mauter's research interests lie at the intersection of energy and water. After finishing undergraduate degrees in Civil and Environmental Engineering and History at Rice University, Mauter completed a Ph.D. in Chemical and Environmental Engineering in at Yale University. Her dissertation, Implications and Applications of Nanomaterials for Membrane-Based Water Treatment, emphasized the role of next-generation membrane materials and processes in minimizing the energy consumption of separations. Following her doctoral work, Professor Mauter joined the Science Technology and Public Policy Program at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government as a Fellow in Energy Technology Innovation Policy. Professor Mauter joined Carnegie Mellon University in 2012 with joint appointments in the Departments of Chemical Engineering and Engineering and Public Policy. Her present research continues to apply novel materials, advanced treatment processes, and innovation analysis to the pressing challenge of resource efficiency in water and energy systems.

Dr. Bill Rixey, Associate Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Houston
Bill Rixey is an associate professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Houston. Prior to joining the faculty at UH, he was a research engineer at Shell where he developed his interests in contaminant fate and transport and remediation. His current research is investigating the groundwater impacts associated with the use of ethanol and other alcohols in fuels and the mobility of petroleum hydrocarbons in soils. His professional activities include serving as an Associate Editor of Groundwater Monitoring and Remediation.

Dr. Danny Reible,  Donovan Maddox Distinguished Engineering Chair, Texas Tech University
Danny Reible is the Donovan Maddox Distinguished Engineering Chair. Dr. Reible was inducted into the National Academy of Engineering in 2005 for his work in identifying management approaches for contaminated sediments. His current research activities are focused on air pollution and pollutant treatment, sustainable water management, and the assessment and remediation of contaminated sites.


Dr. Robert Griffin,  Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering University
Presentation: "Air Pollution and Atmospheric Chemistry"
Robert Griffin received his B.S. from Tufts University in 1993 and his M.S./Ph.D. from Caltech in 1997/2000 (all in chemical engineering). Between Tufts and Caltech, Dr. Griffin was a Research Assistant at Arthur D. Little, Inc. Previous academic appointments were held at Duke University and the University of New Hampshire. Dr. Griffin's research interests lie in performing field, laboratory, and computational experiments designed to understand the effects and behavior of organic species in the troposphere. These projects have been supported by NSF, NASA, EPA, NOAA, HARC, EPRI, CARB, the Dreyfus Foundation, and the Coordinating Research Council. Dr. Griffin's previous work has been published in journals that include Science, Environmental Science and Technology, The Journal of Geophysical Research - Atmospheres, Geophysical Research Letters, Atmospheric Environment, and The Journal of Atmospheric Chemistry. Dr. Griffin's teaching interests are focused on undergraduate courses in air pollution control and fluid mechanics and on graduate courses in atmospheric chemistry and atmospheric aerosols. He is a member of the American Association of Aerosol Research, the American Chemical Society, and the American Geophysical Union.