Emerging Investigator Series: Joseph Kasprzyk

Joseph Kasprzyk, Assistant Professor of Civil and Architectural Engineering.

Joseph Kasprzyk is an assistant professor in the Civil Environmental and Architectural Engineering Department at the University of Colorado Boulder.  His research focuses on advancing multi-objective decision making and model diagnostics for water resources and environmental engineering problems.  Recent research projects in his group include stakeholder engagement for water resources management in the Front Range of Colorado, creating a framework for improved water quality under extreme climate events, and analysing the air quality and public health impacts of unconventional oil and gas development.  He is the recipient of the Universities Council on Water Resources dissertation award and the Early Career Research Excellence award from the International Environmental Modelling and Software Society.  Kasprzyk earned his PhD from the Pennsylvania State University.

Read Joseph’s Emerging Investigators review of Decision support systems for water treatment: making the case for incorporating climate change and climate extremes and find out more about his work in the interview below:

How has your research evolved from your first to your most recent article?

When I started my research career, my research adviser Prof. Pat Reed and I started a productive collaboration with Prof. Greg Characklis at the University of North Carolina.  Greg had some innovative ideas on risk-based decision making for water resources systems, such as using thresholds and probabilistic modelling to inform utilities on how to make their water supply have a higher reliability (i.e. meeting demands and maintaining supply levels).  In my own research I worked on new methods for multi-objective decision making for these systems.  Later, we would also collaborate with researchers at RAND corporation on how to bring robust decision making techniques to bear on these problems, coupling them with multi-objective optimization.

In my more recent papers, we have worked on a diverse set of problems with these techniques including a multi-reservoir water resources system in Texas and groundwater contamination remediation.  I’ve also worked on a set of projects that seeks to continue advancing the methodology of multi-objective optimization, such as exploring the impact of problem formulation on the solutions generated from optimization (e.g., what is the influence of constraints on the solutions from decision support).  Of course, we are quite excited about the work published in Environmental Science: Water Research and Technology, where we have provided a critical review of how some of the water resources research that we have done can inform and advance the study of source water quality and water treatment.

What aspect of your work are you most excited about at the moment?

There are many reasons to be excited when studying environmental engineering and decision making these days!

There is a growing community working on these problems, as evidenced by a new Society for Decision Making Under Deep Uncertainty, as well as a burgeoning community in Water and Society at the American Geophysical Union.  It is exciting to have more people joining the conversation and bringing in new ideas.

The proliferation of scientific tools, programming languages, and technologies is making it easier to share decision support systems with students, analysts, as well as decision makers and stakeholders themselves.  However, this opportunity also means that we need to keep educating people as to how to properly use scientific and engineering techniques to come to the proper conclusion about their systems.  For example, in the past, it might have been possible to only run a small number of computer simulations to understand the performance of a system, but with high performance computing systems as well as cloud services, the possibilities are now being greatly expanded.

I’m excited to continue pursuing work directly with stakeholders and decision makers, which helps us learn how to improve our tools to have greater applicability, as well as disseminate our scientific findings within the community to guide their activities.  My work in this area has been greatly aided by Western Water Assessment at the University of Colorado Boulder and the Water Research Foundation, an organization that has a great relationship with water utilities around the country.

In your opinion, what is the most concerning impact associated with your work?

Our critical review paper suggests that although scientists are gaining a good understanding of how climate change impacts the quantity of water in our supply systems, the relationship between climate change and water quality is more complex and not as well understood.  The complexity of decision support for water treatment, as well as the wide variety of models and techniques used within the field, is exciting, but potentially overwhelming for stakeholders and users in the field.  So we are happy that we were able to share our findings in the journal so that our review can be a resource for researchers to continue their important work in the future.

What do you find most challenging about your research?

The project team on this paper is an interesting mix of hydrologists, environmental chemists, and water resources engineers.  The terminology used within these fields is not always consistent, but what was even more challenging was that the terminology within the research articles that we reviewed was even less consistent.  This is one of the main reasons why one of the recommendations we made is for a standardization of terminology in order to improve communication in this important field.  The lead author of the paper, William Raseman, did a great job in culling all the information and I hope it came through in the final manuscript.

In which upcoming conferences or events may our readers meet you?

My group typically attends the American Geophysical Union fall meeting (in December of every year) and the American Society of Civil Engineers Environmental Water Resources Institute meeting (in May or June every year).  I am also proud to be a member of the Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors, and I look forward to their conference in June 2017.

How do you spend your spare time?

Boulder, Colorado is a great place to do outdoor activities, and I enjoy hiking, jogging, and horseback riding.  Music is also an important part of my life, and I enjoy going to concerts as well as playing several instruments such as the guitar and piano.  Ben Livneh, one of my co-authors on this paper, is also an avid guitarist himself, and we have made music together in addition to publishing.

Which profession would you choose if you were not a scientist?

One of my favourite parts about being a professor is in interacting with students, other researchers, and the general public.  So, if I were to choose another profession I would want it to be one that includes a lot of communication and public outreach!

Can you share one piece of career-related advice or wisdom with other early career scientists?

The most rewarding part of my career so far has been in working with smart people with diverse interests, that allow us to expand our approaches into new areas.  For example, I am beginning a new US National Science Foundation-funded project this year that seeks to advance the design of sustainable building materials, in collaboration with Profs. Wil Srubar and Leah Sprain at the University of Colorado Boulder.  So, when starting your career, don’t be afraid to pursue new lines of inquiry and get out of your comfort zone.  In addition to opening up new research opportunities, it might teach you something about your own area at the same time.  Also, make sure that you are enjoying your work and having fun.  Being able to enjoy the research that you are doing comes through in the quality of the finished product.

 

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Emerging Investigator Series: Damian Helbling

Damian Helbling, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering (CEE).

Damian E. Helbling is an Assistant Professor in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Cornell University. His research focuses on the relationship between human social and technological development and the quality of freshwater resources, with a particular interest in the occurrence and fate of anthropogenic organic chemicals in natural and engineered water systems. He received a B.S. in civil engineering from Penn State University along with M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in civil and environmental engineering from Carnegie Mellon University. He spent five years as a postdoctoral research associate at the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag) prior to his arrival at Cornell in 2014.

Read Damian’s Emerging Investigators review on the Prioritization of suspect hits in a sensitive suspect screening workflow for comprehensive micropollutant characterization in environmental samples and find out more about his work in the interview below:

How has your research evolved from your first to your most recent article?

The consistent theme throughout my research career has been my interest in water. I was motivated to pursue an academic career by my fascination with water and a desire to gain a deeper understanding of the physical, chemical, and biological processes that drive changes in water quality that may ultimately influence the health of aquatic ecosystems or exposed human populations. My first publications as a graduate student focused on describing new approaches to monitor water quality in drinking water distribution systems in real-time to provide early warning of microbial contamination events. My work has evolved since then to focus more on the occurrence and transformation of anthropogenic organic chemicals throughout the entire urban water cycle.

What aspect of your work are you most excited about at the moment?

I am generally excited about the opportunities I have to contribute to the academic culture at Cornell University as both a teacher and a researcher. With respect to research, I am excited about the progress we have made in developing techniques using high-resolution mass spectrometry to more comprehensively assess chemical occurrence in water samples (i.e. environmental forensics) and to elucidate structures of unknown chemicals resulting from chemical or biological transformations (i.e. environmental metabolomics). We use these techniques to improve our fundamental understanding of chemical fate, but also to inform the development of new treatment technologies that may contribute to the removal of trace organic chemicals from water and wastewater.   

How can the accuracy of characterising the occurrence of micropollutants in environmental samples be improved?

The goal of the research described in our manuscript was to develop a suspect screening method that was as accurate as possible in characterizing the occurrence of micropollutants in environmental samples. We achieved that goal, but by aiming for high accuracy, we sacrificed precision. The vision for suspect screening should be towards the development of methods that maximize both accuracy and precision. Fortunately, there is a growing group of scientists working hard towards developing better tools to manipulate large full-scan mass spectral data acquisitions, to predict retention times and MS2 fragmentation patterns of suspect chemicals, and to collect and store mass spectra of large numbers of chemicals as a resource for the research community. Advances in these areas are expected to improve both the accuracy and precision of data-processing pipelines aimed at characterizing the occurrence of micropollutants in a variety of environmental samples.

What do you find most challenging about your research?

A big challenge is understanding the link between a complex characterization of chemical constituents in a water sample and the concomitant risk of those chemical constituents to aquatic ecosystem or human health. We are developing relationships with aquatic ecologists and environmental toxicologists to help us place the results of our work into a health-based context. It is imperative to link exposure and risk to help inform the conversation on regulatory decision making and future urban water policy.

In which upcoming conferences or events may our readers meet you?

I am fond of the Gordon Research Conference on Environmental Sciences: Water and the Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors (AEESP) Research and Education Conference. These conferences are held every other year in alternating summers, so I plan to attend these conferences regularly. I am also an active participant at American Chemical Society (ACS) conferences and try to attend at least one of the national meetings each year. 

 How do you spend your spare time?

I have a lot of hobbies and wish I had more spare time to dedicate to those activities! I enjoy the outdoors and spend a lot of time cycling or hiking in the natural areas around Cornell and the Finger Lakes region of New York State. I am also a bit of an audiophile and have a modest collection of vinyl and digital recordings and a handful of acoustic instruments that have lamentably become somewhat neglected in recent years!

Which profession would you choose if you were not a scientist?

I am passionate about both teaching and research, so I could see myself focusing on a career in education irrespective of my interests in scientific research. If I were to switch gears all together, I can imagine myself as a small-business entrepreneur. I have been known to daydream about concepts for new types of shops or cafes and could see myself enjoying the challenge of building a small-business in an exotic location!

Can you share one piece of career-related advice or wisdom with other early career scientists?

Seize the opportunities that come your way.

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Major society chemistry publishers jointly commit to integration with ORCID

ORCID provides an identifier for individuals to use with their name as they engage in research, scholarship and innovation activities, ensuring authors gain full credit for their work.

Today, we signed their open letter, along with ACS Publications, committing to unambiguous identification of all authors that publish in our journals.

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The Royal Society of Chemistry and the Publications Division of the American Chemical Society (ACS) today each became signatories to the ORCID Open Letter, reasserting the commitment of both organizations to enhancing the scholarly publishing experience for researchers worldwide who are involved in chemistry and allied fields.

The commitment by these two global chemistry publishers to undertake new workflow integration with technology infrastructure provided by ORCID, a not-for-profit organization that provides unique identifiers for researchers and scholars, will enable both societies to provide unambiguous designation of author names within chemistry and across the broader sciences. This partnership with ORCID will resolve ambiguity in researcher identification caused by name changes, cultural differences in name presentation, and the inconsistent use of name abbreviations that is too often a source of confusion for those who must rely on the published scientific record.

By becoming signatories to the ORCID Open Letter, these two major chemical societies are voicing their intent to collect ORCID iDs for all submitting authors through use of the ORCID API, and to display such identifiers in the articles published in their respective society journals. The integration of such activities within the publishers’ workflows means authors will benefit from automated linkages between their ORCID record and unique identifiers embedded within their published research articles, ensuring their contributions are appropriately recognized and credited.

During the publishing process, ACS and the Royal Society of Chemistry will automatically deposit publications to Crossref, which in turn will coordinate with ORCID to link and update the publishing activity populated to authors’ respective ORCID profiles, thus attributing each published work to the correct researcher. Existing holders of an ORCID iD will encounter a one-time prompt to grant permission for the linkage. If authors do not have an ORCID iD, they can easily enroll without navigating away from the publishers’ manuscript submission site. If users wish to revoke integrated ORCID profile access at any time, they can elect to do so through their ACS, Royal Society of Chemistry or ORCID accounts.

Both ACS Publications and the Royal Society of Chemistry understand the importance of attributing accurately the scholarly contributions of research scientists in the context of their other professional activities. “ACS has supported ORCID since the outset of the initiative,” says Sarah Tegen, Ph.D., Vice President of Global Editorial & Author Services at ACS Publications. “We are pleased now to align with the Royal Society of Chemistry in this endeavor, as both societies underscore our willingness not only to encourage and assist our respective authors in establishing their unique ORCID profiles, but also to help tackle the broader challenge of researcher name disambiguation in the scholarly literature. With the integration of author ORCID iDs in our publishing workflows, we will ensure that researchers receive proper credit for their accomplishments.”

Emma Wilson, Ph.D., Director of Publishing at the Royal Society of Chemistry adds, “We have been a supporter of ORCID since 2013, recognizing the benefits it brings to researchers; ORCID can and will make a huge difference to our authors’ ability to gain full credit for their work. ORCID will also help researchers meet the requirements of their research funders — for example, a number of funders have already announced that all grant applicants must now include a researcher’s ORCID iD. A unified system that integrates and links research-related information with accurate and timely linkage to the publishing output of authors has the potential to simplify and speed up their grant applications — something we know is important to researchers.”

“The ACS and the Royal Society of Chemistry have been long-standing supporters of ORCID,” says Laurel Haak, Ph.D., Executive Director, ORCID. “We are pleased to see ORCID integration into ACS and Royal Society of Chemistry Publications systems. This will be a substantial benefit to researchers in the chemistry community, both in improving search and discovery of research articles, and for attribution and recognition of researchers’ contributions to the discipline.”

About the American Chemical Society and ACS Publications

The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With nearly 157,000 members, ACS is the world’s largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

ACS Publications, a division of the American Chemical Society, is a nonprofit scholarly publisher of 50 peer-reviewed journals and a range of eBooks at the interface of chemistry and allied sciences, including physics and biology. ACS Publications journals are among the most-cited, most-trusted and most-read within the scientific literature. Respected for their editorial rigor, ACS journals offer high-quality service to authors and readers, including rapid time to publication, a range of channels for researchers to access ACS Publications’ award-winning web and mobile delivery platforms, and a comprehensive program of open access publishing options for authors and their funders. ACS Publications also publishes Chemical & Engineering News — the Society’s newsmagazine covering science and technology, business and industry, government and policy, education and employment aspects of the chemistry field.

About the Royal Society of Chemistry

The Royal Society of Chemistry is the world’s leading chemistry community, advancing excellence in the chemical sciences. With over 50,000 members and a knowledge business that spans the globe, we are the U.K.’s professional body for chemical scientists; a not-for-profit organisation with 175 years of history and an international vision for the future. We promote, support and celebrate chemistry. We work to shape the future of the chemical sciences — for the benefit of science and humanity.

About ORCID

ORCID’s vision is a world where all who participate in research, scholarship and innovation are uniquely identified and connected to their contributions across disciplines, borders and time. ORCID provides an identifier for individuals to use with their name as they engage in research, scholarship and innovation activities. It provides open tools that enable transparent and trustworthy connections between researchers, their contributions and affiliations. The organization provides this service to help people find information and to simplify reporting and analysis. ORCID is a not-for-profit organization, sustained by fees from member organizations. Its work is open, transparent and non-proprietary. The organization strives to be a trusted component of research infrastructure with the goal of providing clarity in the breadth of research contributions and the people who make them.

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Ozone filling a hole in water disinfection

Written for Chemistry World by Osman Mohamed

Ozone generator proves to be healthier alternative to established chlorination technology for small-scale wastewater treatment

Irrigation system

Every day, 34 billion litres of fresh water are used for landscape irrigation in the US. Source: © iStock

Scientists in the US have proven that wastewater disinfection by ozonation can reduce impacts on human health compared with chlorination, today’s most commonly used method.

34 billion litres of fresh water are used in the US every day for landscape irrigation. Small-scale disinfectant systems could curb this enormous need by allowing households and businesses to recycle their own wastewater.

Currently, wastewater disinfection is mainly carried out using chlorination, where chlorine or hypochlorite is added to the water to kill pathogens, but now microplasma ozonation has emerged as a competitor to this established system. In this new technology ozone, a powerful disinfectant, is produced using electricity and oxygen in a stacked generator. This allows energy efficiency and easy operation for small-scale water treatment.

Despite both technologies aiming to benefit human health by removing pathogens, they do have hidden health impacts due to emissions and energy consumption during setup and operation – factors that are rarely considered. Now, Jeremy Guest, Thanh Nguyen and their team from the University of Illinois have decided to put this emerging technology to the test.

Read the full article in Chemistry World.


Human health trade-offs in the disinfection of wastewater for landscape irrigation: microplasma ozonation vs. chlorination

Shengkun Dong, Jun Li, Min-Hwan Kim, Sung-Jin Park, J. Gary Eden, Jeremy S. Guest and Thanh H. Nguyen

Environ. Sci.: Water Res. Technol., 2017, Advance Article

DOI: 10.1039/C6EW00235H

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Halting the flow of microplastics

Written for Chemistry World by Polly-Anna Ashford

Having investigated the fate of microplastics in different wastewater treatment processes, scientists in the US found that most plants are not designed to fully remove the small litter particles.

Microplastics are tiny particles (<5 mm in size) that arise from the degradation of larger plastics in the ocean as well as direct release from common household products such as toothpaste. Their full potential impact on aquatic ecosystems is still unknown, but they can be ingested by small organisms and may release harmful chemicals.

Melissa Duhaime and colleagues from the University of Michigan now compared the effectiveness of wastewater treatment plants using three different clean-up methods.

Read the full article in Chemistry World.


Fate of microplastics and other small anthropogenic litter (SAL) in wastewater treatment plants depends on unit processes employed

Marlies R. Michielssen, Elien R. Michielssen, Jonathan Ni and Melissa B. Duhaime

Environ. Sci.: Water Res. Technol., 2016, Advance Article

DOI: 10.1039/C6EW00207B, Paper

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Emerging Investigators Series: Haizhou Liu

Dr Haizhou Liu, University of California, Riverside

Dr Haizhou Liu is an Assistant Professor of Chemical and Environmental Engineering at the University of California, Riverside. He received his Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering from University of Washington in 2010, and has a M.S. in Civil Engineering from University of Washington and B.S. in Environmental Engineering from Sichuan University, China. Prior to joining UC Riverside, he worked as a postdoctoral researcher at UC Berkeley for two years on soil remediation projects. Haizhou’s research interests include water chemistry, colloidal metal behavior and redox chemistry in drinking water, water reuse and treatment, environmental remediation, electrochemistry and catalysis. Haizhou’s current research focuses on the applications of aquatic chemistry principles to our benefits in engineered applications such as water purification and wastewater reclamation, as well as to understand how various redox and interfacial chemical processes influence natural systems such as estuarine, surface and groundwater.

Read Haizhou’s Emerging Investigators review on the “Occurrence and speciation of chromium in drinking water distribution systems” and find out more about his work  in the interview below:

How has your research evolved from your first to your most recent article?

My first research experience dates back to my freshman year. I participated in an undergraduate research to develop desulfurization technologies to treat flue gas. It was an exciting opportunity to learn how to design an experiment, collect and analyze the data, and come up with a hypothesis to test it. From my first research experience, I became very interested in environmental chemistry and have been working in this area since then. My most recent research is focused on water chemistry, especially the fate of metal and metalloids in water distribution system.

 

What aspect of your work are you most excited about at the moment?

I am most excited about the complex interfacial and redox-driven chemical processes in the water distribution system. Our ongoing work shows that the water distribution system has many reactive components, and water chemistry plays a key role in maintaining the chemical stability of the system. Currently, understanding of distribution system chemistry has been mostly limited to a few empirical chemical indices. Awareness of redox reactivities of accumulated contaminants in corrosion products with residual disinfectants and source waters is largely unknown. Outcome from our work can help to increase access to clean water and improve urban infrastructure – two National Academy of Engineering Grand Challenges.

 

In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge for drinking water distribution systems?

More cities in the future will deal with aging water infrastructure. Although distribution systems might be functional when operating as they have been for decades, the risks are going to come when source waters are abruptly switched in response to droughts or a decision to use a new water supply. The biggest challenge is how to minimize the adverse impact on water quality when using alternative water sources in the future, while maintaining the chemical integrity of the water distribution system. As environmental engineers, we have sadly seen the catastrophic consequences of ignoring the complex chemical reactivity of water distribution systems when switching the source of surface waters as in Flint, Michigan. Ideas developed through my ongoing work could aid engineers and water system managers in preventing the next Flint. To address these universal challenges and to prevent another Flint crisis with a variety of toxic inorganic contaminants – including but not limited to lead – it is urgent to investigate the redox-driven in situ mobilization of accumulated contaminants from distribution systems.

 

What do you find most challenging about your research?

The water distribution system is such a complex “reactor”. The focus of redox chemistry in our work is a pivotal step to advance our knowledge towards a comprehensive investigation, but it requires very careful and vigorous investigation of fundamental chemistry, and this take time. In addition, many issues of water distribution systems are still poorly understood, including biofilm, galvanic and bio-corrosion, mass transfer and diffusion processes at the pipe-water interface. This requires a collaborative effort among environmental engineers to solve the problems.

 

In which upcoming conferences or events may our readers meet you?

I will attend the American Chemical Society Spring Meeting in San Francisco (April 2017), and the biennial conference of Association of Environmental Engineering Science Professors at University of Michigan (June 2017).

 

How do you spend your spare time?

As an assistant professor, I don’t have too much spare time outside work, but when there is a change, I play tennis or beach volleyball in sunshine California. I also fall in love with learning Italian and other Romantic languages.

 

Which profession would you choose if you were not a scientist?

I would like to be a pianist. I enjoy classical music very much (favorite composer Mozart) and would like to be good at playing it.

 

Can you share one piece of career-related advice or wisdom with other early career scientists?

Work hard, present your work at conferences and interact with you colleagues. All of these will help build a positive system and make your more creative and productive.

 


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Pan Africa Chemistry Network Congress 2016 – registration open!

We are delighted to announce that Pan Africa Chemistry Network Congress 2016 – Sustainable Water Resources for Africa is being held in Kenya on 30 November – 2 December 2016 – be sure to secure your place today! For full details of speakers and conference themes, please visit the event web page.

This will be the 10th PACN Congress, and will bring together over 200 participants from across Africa and the globe to discuss current research, challenges, new developments and crucial issues on the topic of Water.

The speaker and participants will share expertise and best practice and discuss cutting edge research and applications.  It will reflect the diversity of science and research that can help solve challenges of water security and water safety, with a focus on the chemical sciences.  The conference will give all participants the opportunity to engage with other scientists, exchange ideas and previous events have led to new collaborations and partnerships.

We look forward to seeing you there!

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Emerging Investigator Series: Kevin J. Bisceglia and Nicole Fahrenfeld

Kevin Bisceglia is an Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Hofstra University. He earned a B.S. and M.E. in Environmental Engineering from Manhattan College, and a Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering and Chemistry from Johns Hopkins University. His research interests include environmental analytical chemistry, water quality, and chemical fate and transport in the built environment.

Nicole Fahrenfeld is an Assistant Professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. She received her Ph.D. in Civil Engineering with a concentration in Environmental and Water Resources Engineering from Virginia Tech. She earned her B.S. in Environmental Engineering from Johns Hopkins University and M.S. in Environmental Engineering and Science from Clemson University. Her research interests include pathogen fate and transport, microbial source tracking, bioremediation, and emerging contaminants.

Read their Emerging Investigators article ‘sewer surveillance for monitoring antibiotic use and prevalence of antibiotic resistance: urban sewer epidemiology’. It’s open access and therefore free to read.

– How has your research evolved from your first to your most recent article?

Kevin: I started off studying the redox chemistry of metals and metalloids in sediments. After that, I moved into environmental organic chemistry, studying pharmaceuticals and personal care products as contaminants. I had a fantastic opportunity to do some of my doctoral work at NIST developing methods for the determination of illicit drugs in municipal wastewater, and I’ve been fascinated with the notion of wastewater-based epidemiology ever since.

Nicole: I started research interested in environmental organic chemistry, so much so that my masters project was using chemical tracers for fecal coliform source tracking.  That interest in chemical fate and transport lead me to a PhD project on munitions biodegradation.  During that project I learned more about and became more interested in the microbiology driving chemical fate in the environment.  Now working on antibiotic resistance, and this review in particular, is a chance to continue working at that interface of organic chemistry and microbiology for an important water quality and public health issue.

– What aspect of your work are you most excited about at the moment?

Kevin: I’m really excited about extending the practice of wastewater-based epidemiology beyond monitoring illicit drug use, into equally pressing public health concerns such as antibiotic resistance. I’ve also become interested in better understanding chemical cycling in suburban environments. Long Island, where Hofstra is located, is intimately linked with the post-war notion of suburban living, and it is home to many of the first modern American suburbs. As most Americans now live in suburban environments, a key challenge we face is how to make existing suburbs more sustainable and resilient. Luckily, there is a great cohort of people at Hofstra University attempting to do just that.

Nicole: Since joining Rutgers I’ve been enjoying the opportunity to apply my skills to urban water quality issues.  NJ has high rates of de facto water reuse, legacy contaminants from our industrial past, high population density, and aging infrastructure.  Environmental engineers can play a role in helping work towards improved water quality and resiliency.

– In your opinion, what is currently the biggest challenge for sewer systems?

Nicole: The age and, in regions with combined sewers, outdated design of sewers is the greatest challenge currently.  No matter the approach (green or gray infrastructure), it is time to invest in upgrading these systems.

Kevin: I agree with Nicole that the biggest problem sewers face is their age and, especially in the northeastern US where Hofstra and Rutgers are located, the existence of combined sewers.

– What should the next step be to improve our understanding of processes occurring in our sewer infrastructure?

Nicole: One step would be better understanding the factors driving attenuation in these systems.  Lisa Rodenburg’s lab at Rutgers did some really interesting work on persistent organic pollutant degradation in sewer systems.  My lab is hoping to build on that by understanding the factors driving pathogen attenuation in these systems.

Kevin: I’d recommend pilot scale studies to better understand sewers as biochemical reactors and as a unique ecological niche. I’m closely following work by Nicole, Lisa Rodenberg, and others to better understand chemical and microbial dynamics in sewer systems.

– What do you find most challenging about your research?

Kevin: Keeping my analytical instruments running, and convincing public health researchers to consider municipal wastewater as a resource for surveilling public health. There has been some interest in doing so in the EU, but far less in the United States.

Nicole: It is an exciting time with the ability to generate –omics data sets and move towards systems level understandings of environmental processes.  But, piecing these large data sets together and figuring out what they really means in these complex systems is certainly a new challenge.

– In which upcoming conference or events may our readers meet you?

Nicole: We’ll be presenting our research on end-of-pipe treatment for combined sewer overflow effluent at WEFTEC.

Kevin: I’m planning to be at the national ACS conference this spring.

– How do you spend your spare time?

Nicole: Running, sailing, hiking, at the shore and with my family.

Kevin: With my children, aged 5 and 7. I try to get outdoors whenever possible, whether to NYC or hiking, biking, kayaking along Long Island’s coastal waters

– Which profession would you choose if you were not a scientist?

Kevin: I would be a research librarian. My favorite part of doing research is fact-finding and literature review, during which you get to learn about what others have done and think about what might be possible. I’d love to do that full time.

Nicole: Probably writing. I became interested in environmental engineering in part from newspaper articles I read while volunteering at a non-profit for children’s environmental health. A well-written story can put flesh behind facts and data and make a real difference in the way a reader feels about an issue. If I wasn’t working on generating those data and facts, I think I’d enjoy telling the stories surrounding them.

– Can you share one piece of career-related advice or wisdom with other early career scientists?

Kevin: Rely on colleagues for support and guidance along the way. You may be surprised to learn how many of your peers are experiencing similar challenges. Although our field can be competitive, don’t hesitate to seek out collaborative opportunities and create a network of ‘advisers.’

Nicole:I didn’t know this was the job I’d have or the research I’d be doing when I started out.  When I get the opportunity to speak to students about career paths I can empathize with the uncertainty or anxiety some express about what area they want to focus in, how/if/when they want to pursue grad school, etc.  There are lots of paths to a satisfying career and a happy life.  Don’t be afraid to start trying on hats to see which fits.


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International Conference on Water Reclamation and Reuse

This event will bring together water managers, industry leaders, and cutting edge researchers from around the world to learn what’s working, what’s not and what’s next in water reuse policy and regulations, technology, operations, financing and public perception.

Abstract Submission Deadline: October 1, 2016

Check out the conference website to get all the latest information and submit your abstracts at: http://iwareuse2017

We look forward to seeing you there next year!


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Top 10 Reviewers for Environmental Science: Water Research & Technology

In celebration of Peer Review Week, with the theme of Recognition for Review – we would like to highlight the top 10 reviewers for Environmental Science: Water Research & Technology in 2016, as selected by the editor for their significant contribution to the journal.

Name Institution
Dr Paul van der Wielen KWR
Dr Zhen He Virginia Tech
Dr Long Nghiem University of Wollongong
Dr Kyle Bibby University of Pittsburgh
Dr Philipp Kuntke WETSUS
Professor Sirshendu De Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur
Professor Fernando Rosario-Ortiz University of Colorado Boulder
Dr Gary Fones University of Portsmouth
Dr Graham Gagnon Dalhousie University
Dr Heather Bischel EPFL

We would like to say a massive thank you to these reviewers as well as the Environmental Science: Water Research & Technology board and all of the environmental chemistry community for their continued support of the journal, as authors, reviewers and readers.

Keep an eye on our Environmental Science: Processes& Impacts and Environmental Science: Nano blogs where the top 10 reviewers for each journal will be revealed.

Review to win!
As a little added bonus to celebrate Peer Review Week, for the next four weeks our reviewers will be in with a chance of winning a fantastic prize! Simply submit a review for any of our journals between 19 September and 16 October 2016 and you will be automatically eligible for a chance to win one of our fantastic prizes.

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