Faculty Support

One of the Water Center’s primary goals is to make the University of Pennsylvania a highly respected institution for water research, integrated water management, and water sustainability. To do this, the Center will reserve a portion of each annual budget to support and sponsor Penn faculty in their research efforts.

Following completion of funded research, faculty will be encouraged to publish the work in our annual journal for urban water policy, further supporting regional innovation and adaptive planning. Faculty at the University of Pennsylvania already engage in a variety of research projects and teach a number of water-related courses, scroll through the gallery below to find out more!


Howard M. Neukrug, PE, BCEE, D.WRE 

Professor of Practice

Howard Neukrug is the former Commissioner and CEO of Philadelphia Water, where he was responsible for all aspects of utility operations, environmental compliance, engineering, financing, budgeting, capital and strategic planning, customer service, human resources, and legal and policy decisions for its drinking water/wastewater/stormwater system serving 2.3 million people. At Penn, he is the director of the Water Center and teaching courses on the water industry and the role of water in urban sustainability and resiliency. He is also a Principal with CASE Environmental, LLC, where he provides consulting services to cities and utilities in urban planning, systems design, sustainability, organization, development, strategic planning and trends and innovations in the global water industry.


Dr. Erol Ackay, PhD

Assistant Professor of Biology

Erol is a theoretical biologist interested in the evolution of complex biological and social organization. Mostly, he works on how individuals with conflicting interests evolve to cooperate with each other, in contexts varying from plant-microbe mutualisms to animal and human behavior. Erol is also an active member of the Galapagos Alliance at Penn.


Nikhil Anand, PhD

Assistant Professor of Anthropology

Nikhil Anand’s research focuses on the political ecology of cities, read through the different lives of water.  His first book, Hydraulic City examines the everyday ways in which cities and citizens are made through the everyday management of water infrastructures in Mumbai.  With Hannah Appel and Akhil Gupta, Dr. Anand is co-editor of a forthcoming volume, The Promise of Infrastructure (forthcoming in 2018 with Duke University Press).  His new research focuses on the ways in which urban rivers and rising seas are key sites for the making and management of difference in India and the United States. 


Maria Antonia Andrews

Associate Director of Undergraduate Programs

Maria holds a Bachelor of Arts in chemistry from Rutgers University and a Master of Science in engineering geology from Drexel University. Maria’s professional experience in the environmental field ranges from applications of analytical soil and water chemistry to multiple facets of environmental consulting. Her focus of interest has been the behavior and interaction of inorganic and organic pollutants in the environment. Maria has been teaching at Penn since 2002 and is currently the Associate Director for Undergraduate Programs in Earth & Environmental Science. 


Katie Barott, PhD

Assistant Professor of Biology

Katie’s research is focused on understanding how interactions between reef-building corals and their microbial symbionts influence the biology and ecology of coral reef ecosystems. Coral reefs are increasingly affected by human activity and climate change, and she is interested in how the coral host and it’s algal and bacterial symbionts change as they encounter various stressors (e.g. temperature and ocean acidification). Her lab utilizes a combination of approaches to address these questions, including cell biology, organismal physiology, microbial ecology, and field experiments and observations. 

Katie holds a B.S. from Michigan State University, 2006; Ph.D., San Diego State University; University of California at San Diego, 2012; Postdoc, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, 2012 – 2015; Postdoc, Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, 2015 – 2017


Eugenie Birch, PhD

Professor Birch’s current research focuses on global urbanization. Professor Birch has been active in the field’s professional and civic organizations in the United States and abroad. She is president, General Assembly of Partners (GAP), the engagement platform for the implementation of the UN’s New Urban Agenda and associated global agreements, co-chair, Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) Thematic Group on Cities, and an Associate Editor, Journal of the American Planning Association. In the past, she has been president, Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning; president, Society of American City and Regional Planning History; president, International Planning History Society; and co-editor, Journal of the American Planning Association. She has been a member of the Planning Accreditation Board, having served as its chair from 2004-2006. She has been a member of the editorial boards of Planning Theory and PracticeJournal of Planning History, Journal of Planning Education and Research and Planning Perspectives. In the early 1990s, she was a member of the New York City Planning Commission, and in 2002, she served on the jury to select the designers for the World Trade Center site. She has chaired the Board of Trustees of the Municipal Art Society of New York and is currently a member of the Board of Trustees of the Regional Plan Association of New York.


Yvette Bordeaux, PhD

Director, Professional Masters Programs in Earth and Environmental Science

Yvette studies marine organisms that live on the shells of other organisms known, as epibionts. Her work examines organisms >400 million years old as a way of determining water quality, ocean circulation patterns and climate history of regions throughout the world

Dr. Yvette Bordeaux received a BS in Biology-Geology from the University of Rochester and MS and PhD in Geology from the University of Pennsylvania. Yvette was the Associate Director for Undergraduate Programs in Earth & Environmental Science at Penn from 1998-2008, and has been Director for the Professional Masters Programs (Master of Environmental Studies and Master of Science in Applied Geosciences) since 2007. She received the Provost’s Award for exceptional teaching, the LPS Distinguished Teaching Award, and the UPCEA Mid-Atlantic Chapter Alexander Charters Outstanding Continuing Educator Award.


Matthijs Bouw, M.S. Architecture

Matthijs Bouw is a Dutch architect and urbanist and founder of One Architecture (est. 1995), an award-winning Amsterdam and New York-based design and planning firm. He is the Rockefeller Urban Resilience Fellow for PennDesign at the University of Pennsylvania. Bouw’s work at Penn theorizes and positions design as an integrator and innovator among scales, disciplines, actors and issues in urban resilience and water management projects. He is a driving force between RBD U, a network of design schools that collaborate on resilience issues, and is developing the Chief Resilience Officer curriculum for 100 Resilient Cities. Additionally, he researches how to achieve and increase ‘resilience value’ in the implementation of complex projects.

Bouw’s practice is known for its unique approach in which programmatic, financial, technical and organizational issues are addressed, communicated and resolved through design. Bouw has been a pioneer in the use of design as a tool for collaboration, for instance through the development of ‘Design Studios’ as an instrument to support the Netherlands’ Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment with its long term planning.

In New York City, the office co-leads the BIG Team that won the Rebuild by Design competition for the flood protection of Manhattan, and is currently part of the multi-disciplinary teams executing the first phase of the East Side Coastal Resiliency project for Lower Manhattan, as well as planning the Lower Manhattan Coastal Protection project. In Panama City, he is the urban designer in the ‘Water Dialogues’ team. In the Netherlands, One are part of the ‘Hackable City’ team for Buiksloterham, a large scale brownfield redevelopment in Amsterdam-Noord based on the principles of the circular economy.


Vanessa Chan, PhD

Professor of Practice, Innovation & Entrepreneurship Materials Science and Engineering (MSE)

Vanessa’s focus is at the interface of innovation, technology and business where she is adept at translating technology/product assets to meet unmet needs. She is a part of Penn’s Engineering Entrepreneurship faculty and leads Senior Design for the Materials Science department. Vanessa is an entrepreneur (the inventor of loopit, tangle-free headphones that are currently sold on QVC) and an angel investor with Robin Hood Ventures. Prior to Penn she was a partner at McKinsey & Company where she co-led their innovation practice, helping Fortune 100 companies with deep R&D portfolios commercialize their technologies. She continues to be a writer & speaker on the journey from corporate executive to entrepreneur and work-life integration. Vanessa is the co–President of the Philadelphia Chapter of Ellevate Network, the chair of the BRIC (Business Resource Innovation Center) for the Free Library of Philadelphia and a member of the Innovation Business Development Advisory Council for United Technology Corporation and the Advisory Board for Charge-it-Spot. 


Russell Composto, PhD

Russ is involved in polymer science and biomolecular engineering research. His interests extend to polymer surfaces and interfaces, adhesion and diffusion, and nanocomposite polymer blend and copolymer films. Russ’s biomaterials work centers around manipulating the surface of polymers to elicit control over protein adsorption, as well as cell adhesion, orientation, and function, and he has an active research program at the interface of polymer science and biomolecular engineering, which combines block copolymer self-assemble as a basis for orienting stiff biological molecules.


Dennis Culhane, PhD

Professor, Dana & Andrew Stone Chair of Social Policy, Co-Principal Investigator, Actionable Intelligence for Social Policy

Dr. Culhane is a social science researcher with primary expertise in the area of homelessness and assisted housing policy. His work has contributed to efforts to address the housing and support needs of people experiencing housing emergencies and long-term homelessness. Most recently, Culhane’s research has focused on using linked administrative data to gain a better understanding about the service utilization patterns of vulnerable populations, including youth exiting foster care and/or juvenile justice, as well as the individuals aged 55 and older who are experiencing homelessness.

Dr. Culhane’s research also focuses on homelessness among veterans. From July 2009 – June 2018 he served as Director of Research at the National Center on Homelessness Among Veterans, an initiative of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Dr. Culhane also co-directs Actionable Intelligence for Social Policy (AISP), an initiative that promotes the development, use, and innovation of integrated data systems by states and localities for policy analysis and systems reform.


Dr. Marija Dndric, PhD

Fay R. and Eugene L. Langberg Professor of Physics

Dr. Dndric’s ongoing research focuses on fabricating functional 2-D membranes with potential application in water desalination and removal of emerging contaminants such as metabolized pharmaceutical products. This technology is intended to address drinking water issues in places with low potable water index or during events of salt intrusion- a phenomenon that occurs due to sea level rise where salt water mixes with fresh water making it unsuitable for consumption. These membranes can also be used in energy generation where salinity gradient is the driving force, such as a desalination process for removing salts from seawater. The small pore size and ion selectivity of these membranes can in principle be used for electricity production which is a relatively new and unexplored method of energy generation. Alternatively, the patent-pending nano-membranes can also be used for analytical measurement of water quality as these are capable of filtering particles of very small size (example, micro, and nano-plastics in water). Dndric’s near term research interests also include studying scalability, cost, and challenges in commercialization of these membranes. 


Dr. Zhengxia Dou, PhD

Professor, Penn Vet

Dr. Dou’s research is focused on water-energy-land nexus of food production systems. She works on integrated management of nitrogen and phosphorus coupled with nutrient optimization in animal feeding with manure management and targeted nutrient application to crops for enhanced production efficiency and reduced environmental footprint. She is also studying the interventions that may help mitigate relevant risks associated with animal farming concerning food safety and public health. Dr. Dou collaborates with national and international experts to examine sustainable food security issues from multiple dimensions, such as food waste reduction and reuse, engaging and empowering smallholder farmers.


Jon Freedman

Vice President, Government Affairs & Global Partnerships, GE Water & Process Technologies

Jon Freedman is based in Washington, D.C., where he leads global partnerships and government affairs for GE’s water business. Previously, he was the project leader responsible for developing GE’s global environmental sustainability initiative, now called “ecomagination.” Jon joined GE in 2001 and then helped GE create a global water business by leading the acquisition of an NYSE-listed global water company. He serves on the advisory board of The Wharton School’s Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership.

Jon holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia, a law degree from William & Mary and an MBA in finance from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.


Dr. David Galligan, PhD

Dr. Galligan’s research focuses on the economic value of veterinary issues in animal production. Through his work with the Center for Animal Health and Productivity, he has illustrated how increasing the amount of milk produced by each cow has dramatically cut the amount of water needed by a dairy operation. His research has resulted in an online platform called the ‘Dairy Analyzer Program (DAP)’ for obtaining and understanding the trends in water footprint of the US and global dairy industry.


Daniel Garofalo, AIA, LEED AP

Environmental Sustainability Director

Dan joined the University of Pennsylvania’s Facilities and Real Estate Services Division as the University’s first Sustainability Director, responsible for implementing Penn’s Climate Action Plan.  

Dan received a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of Virginia, and master’s degrees from Penn in architecture and government administration.  He is a founding member and has served as board chair of both the Delaware Valley Green Building Council and the Community Design Collaborative, Philadelphia’s pro-bono design center.  In 2013, he was appointed the Vice Chair of Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter’s Civic Design Review committee, charged with reviewing all significant development in the city.  He is an adjunct lecturer in the Penn Masters of Environmental Science program, teaching Toward Sustainability at Penn and Shifting Sustainability; a Human Approach to Environmental Issues.

Reto Gieré, PhD

University of Pennsylvania, Professor and Department Chair, Earth & Environmental Science

Reto Giere’s previous work focused on the fate of bio-transformed products such as metabolized pharmaceuticals in wastewater during UV treatment. He studied how these pharmaceuticals especially painkillers and sugars are transformed in water and their effect on public health. His current area of research interest involves analyzing the release of microplastic particles due to abrasion of vehicle tires on the road and leaching off of these particles into the water after a storm event. Understanding the levels of microplastics at different locations in a water body is essential as these particles can readily colonize into microalgae and hence enter the human food chain via fish consumption. Reto is also interested in understanding the heat recovery from wastewater processes


Dr. Karen Glanz, PhD, MPH

George A. Weiss University Professor/ Penn Nursing/ Penn Medicine

Karen Glanz seeks to understand health behavior and improve it by educating and informing people and through public policy and organizational change. A globally influential public health scholar, Dr. Glanz’s work spans psychology, epidemiology, nutrition, and other disciplines. Her research, policy work, and teaching focus on improving the health of communities and creating environments that help people make healthy decisions. She mentors students studying nursing, medicine, arts and sciences, communication, and business, engaging them in data analysis and writing journal articles. Thomson Reuters named her one of “The World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds 2015” in general social sciences.



Nina Hoe, PhD

Director of Evaluation, ImpactED

Nina Hoe, PhD, a Philadelphia native, is the Director of Evaluation of ImpactED. She has extensive experience conducting research and evaluation in the areas of social impact, community engagement, education, public health, transportation, and criminology. Her dissertation, titled “Not All Types of Delay are Equal: Postsecondary Delay in the US and Taking a Gap Year,” examined the effects of delaying college for different reasons, including taking a gap year.Her areas of expertise include study and instrument design, public opinion research, in-person interviews and focus groups, program evaluation, statistics, and project management. She has experience working with several large-scale, nationally representative data sets, and is proficient in SPSS, SAS, STATA, NVivo, AtlasTi, and ArcGIS.Nina holds a BA from Colorado College and an MSEd and PhD from the University of Pennsylvania. Nina also serves on the Board of Friends of the Wissahickon and is an avid cyclist in Philadelphia.


Marilyn Howarth, MD, FACOEM

, Community Outreach and Engagement Core (COEC), Center of Excellence in Environmental Toxicology

Dr. Howarth’s career in Public Health began when she was an Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer at the Centers of Disease Control in Atlanta. She worked with communities and government agencies to investigate occupational and environmental problems. After leaving the CDC, Dr. Howarth worked with Cooper Hospital in Camden, NJ re-shaping their Occupational Health efforts by reaching out to employers to provide medical services to their workers.

At the University of Pennsylvania she is the Director of Consultation Services for the Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. In that role she performs worksite evaluations and helps patients and communities with the effects of environmental exposures. Dr. Howarth has experience evaluating and treating patients with exposure to heavy metals, solvents, mold, respiratory allergens, and musculoskeletal trauma. Dr. Howarth has participated with CDC’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, the National Institutes of Health and the Camden County Technical Advisory Board to work on topics as diverse as latex allergy, the health effects of air pollution, and lead and radiological contamination. 


M. Ani Hsieh, PhD

Research Associate Professor
Research Expertise: Robotics, Mechanical Systems, Dynamical Systems

Ani is interested in problems that lie at the intersection of robotics, dynamical systems theory, and control. Her work focuses on how robots interact with their environments and how the environment can be leveraged as an energy reservoir for robots. Ani and her group create new abstractions to describe dynamic environments and design new architectures and algorithms for teams of robots to interact with each other and their environments. Her work is very interdisciplinary with a strong emphasis on experimental validation.





Junhyong Kim, PhD

Patricia M. Williams Term Professor and Chair, Biology; Co-Director, Penn Program in Single Cell Biology; Adjunct Professor, Computer and Information Science
Junhyong Kim is primarily a Systems Biologist and works at the interface of mathematical and computational biology, genomics, and evolutionary biology with a focus on neuro-cell biology. He uses quantitative models, statistical analyses, and collects genome-scale data to ask questions about mechanisms of cell function and their evolution. In particular, he is interested in theoretical structures of problems such as the mathematical structure of biological models, the architecture of temporal control for cellular processes, and the theory of biological dynamics. Working on theoretical problems is not limited to pen-and-pencils and his lab gathers data and tests hypotheses in the wet-lab and also develops new genomic technologies. A key technological expertise in his lab is single cell analysis, including RNA sequencing from single cells and bio-photonic techniques. In recent years, he have been focused on the mammalian neurons as an empirical system of study. Here, he is interested in RNA dynamics that establish cell phenotypes, variation of RNA states associated with single cell function, systems biology of individual synapses, and evolution of central nervous systems via modulation of neurons.



Allison Lassiter, PhD

Assistant Professor
Dr. Allison Lassiter examines opportunities to use landscape infrastructure and technology to build resilience and increase adaptive capacity in cities. Her current research focuses on urban water management, including: identifying relationships between household water consumption and urban form; identifying relationships between weather and water use preferences; and valuing environmental services associated with decentralized stormwater management. Prior to joining the faculty at Penn, she was a postdoctoral fellow at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, working with the Cooperative Research Centre for Water Sensitive Cities.


Daeyeon Lee, PhD

Dr. Lee’s current research focuses on scalable nanostructured membranes for wastewater treatment. His group is working on developing continuous processes to produce these membranes for large scale/real-world applications, particularly for the separation of oil and water from fracking wastewater. Lee’s research methodology involves developing novel “drop-in” technologies with scalability as the primary factor. He is an active member of the REACT (Research and Education in Active Coatings technologies) group at Penn and part of the research group working on hierarchical structures for water management.


Irina Marinov, PhD

Assistant Professor
Long Term Guest Investigator, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Irina is an Assistant Professor in the Earth & Environmental Sciences Department at Penn. Irina is originally from Bucharest, Romania, where she graduated from the prestigious St Sava High School. She is a BA graduate of Middlebury College, where she studied physics, mathematics, art history and many other interesting things. After receiving her 2005 PhD in Atmospheric and Ocean Sciences from Princeton, Irina spent a few years as a postdoctoral researcher at MIT and at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. At Penn, Irina teaches two undergraduate classes: Global Climate Changeand Ocean-Atmosphere Dynamics and Implications for Climate Change, and leads the Ocean and Climate Dynamics Group. Irina and her group run and analyze large (1 million lines of code!) climate models to predict future changes in climate, with a particular focus on the role of the oceans in the global heat and carbon cycle.


Francesca McCann

President, Global Water Strategies
Francesca McCann has been at the forefront of water strategy, project development and investment for over a decade. Francesca founded Global Water Strategies, an investment, strategy and policy advisory firm for corporate water strategy, water investments, public-private partnerships (PPPs), water reuse and the energy-water nexus. Francesca covered the water sector for Wall Street, where she built a niche research product for institutional investors. She also served as CEO of Abengoa Water USA, where she led the team to the successful contracting of a $3.4 billion project in San Antonio, TX.

Francesca is a respected thought-leader and has been featured in print and on television including the New York Times, Business Week, Barron’s, Bloomberg and MSNBC. She frequently speaks at prominent water conferences in the US and abroad.

Francesca’s professional career includes a political appointment at the US Department of Energy and Latin American trade policy at the US Chamber of Commerce. She holds a BA in International Political-Economy from Colorado College and an MBA from the UCLA Anderson School with a concentration in International Management and Finance.


Ellen Neises

Adjunct Associate Professor

Executive Director, PennPraxis

Ellen Neises teaches landscape design at the graduate school of design at the University of Pennsylvania and is a founder of RANGE, a new collaborative practice that works on large-scale and large-scope design and policy problems involving land, water and development. Ellen’s research interests include climate adaptation for coastal cities, sustainability of high-yield production agriculture, regional planning strategies for industry and agriculture, and community-based planning and design. Ellen co-led the PennDesign / OLIN team’s work on Hunts Point Lifelines, one of the 6 winning entries in the 2014 Rebuild by Design competition. The PennDesign / OLIN team was recognized by the Rockefeller Foundation as one of 4 “global resiliency innovators” for its comprehensive, culture-shifting, resilience proposal for the South Bronx.

Prior to coming to teach at Penn in 2011, Ellen was an associate partner at James Corner Field Operations, where she developed designs for a wide range of project types involving development strategy, complex water dynamics, ecological reclamation, and bold physical design.

Eric Orts, JSD

Guardsmark Professor, Professor of Legal Studies and Business Ethics and Management; Director, Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership, The Wharton School

Eric is the Guardsmark Professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.  He is a tenured professor in the Legal Studies and Business Ethics Department with a secondary appointment in the Management Department.  He also serves as the faculty director of the Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership and faculty co-director of the FINRA/Wharton Certified Regulatory and Compliance Professional Program. His primary research and teaching interests are in business theory, corporate governance, environmental sustainability, securities regulation, and professional ethics.

Orts graduated Oberlin College (BA), the New School for Social Research (MA), the University of Michigan (JD), and Columbia University (JSD).  He is a member of the bar of New York and the District of Columbia, as well as an elected member of the American Law Institute.  He is a founding board member of the Alliance for Research on Corporate Sustainability and serves on the editorial board of Business Ethics Quarterly.

Amish Patel, PhD

Dr. Patel’s research focuses on studying molecular interactions occurring on the surfaces of nanostructured membranes during desalination and water filtration processes. His research methodology involves computational dynamics to analyze the optimal performance of membrane materials. Understanding how the microscopic properties of materials affect the macroscopic behavior and performance is one of Patel’s main research interests. His research is fundamental to material selection, processibility, and scalability of water filtration systems. The application areas of Dr. Patel’s interests include studying methane traps in ocean water (clathrates) that cause a water temperature rise, nonporous films for desalination and super hydrophobic materials for water reuse and storm management.


Richard V. Pepino

Deputy Director, Community Outreach & Engagement Core, Center of Excellence in Environmental Toxicology

Mr. Pepino is Coordinator of the Academically Based Community Service (ABCS) courses in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences.  Mr. Pepino has Master’s degrees in Biology and Science Education, and is Director of the Public Policy Program at Franklin and Marshall College.  Previously he spent 25 years with US EPA Region III, where he was Director of Strategic Planning, Chief of Environmental Impact Analysis, and Associate Director of the Office of Watersheds.  His interests include public policy related to environmental health and alternative teaching methods in urban public education.

Ileana Pérez-Rodriguez, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor and Elliman Faculty Fellow

Dr. Ileana Perez believes in hypothesis-driven research that helps bridge the gap between academic research and utility industry. Her research philosophy focuses on understanding the mass and energy flux across sources and sinks via chemical and biological profiles of microbial ecosystem. Her specific near-term research interests include fracking water reuse, leachate runoffs from landfills, contaminant degradation and extent of water reuse (for example, number of cycles water is reused in a green building before it is sent to WWTPs). She intends to use microbial cultivation systems as the major methodology to study these topics. 


Simon Richter, Ph.D.

Simon Richter is Professor of Germanic Languages and Literatures and member of the Graduate Groups in Comparative Literature and Religious Studies, fellow of the Institute of Urban Reserach, and affiliated with the Programs in Cinema Studies, Environmental Humanities, and Women’s Studies. 

Richter is currently involved with the long term reserach project, Floating/Sinking: A Cultural Phenomenology of Coastal Urban Resilience and Adaptation in the Era of Sea Level Rise. This project focuses on Dutch responses to sea level rise in an intercultural context with a focus on the Netherlands, the United States, and Indonesia. Dutch prowess in water management is legendary and the Netherlands is a major international player in developing innovative solutions for dealing with high water in coastal cities around the world. “The Dutch approach” combines engineering, design and urban development with a commitment to an inclusive, location-specific, ecologically sound planning process. What makes New York City, Jakarta and Semarang additionally interesting is that colonial and post-colonial factors also come into play. 


Dr. Byron Sherwood, Ph.D.

Senior Fellow, Biology

Originally trained as an oceanographer and microbial ecologist, Byron is broadly interested in understanding how the behavior and physiology of microorganisms influence ecosystem function and global biogeochemical cycles. For most of his career, Byron’s work took the form of quantifying how microscale interactions between bacteria and dissolved molecules or other microorganisms, for example, scale up to affect the global exchange of carbon (and carbon dioxide) between the ocean and atmosphere. Since joining the Department of Biology at Penn, Byron applied a similar systems biology approach to better understand the urban aquascape of Philadelphia and the ecology of human-microbe interactions. In collaboration with undergraduate students in the Department of Biology, the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary, the Penn Program in Environmental Humanities, and the Water Center at Penn, Byron’s research and teaching efforts are focused on understanding the ecological principles governing microbe-human interactions of urban aquatic ecosystems with an eye toward addressing some of the unique challenges faced by a socioeconomically and culturally diverse urban society.

Dr. Wen Shieh, Ph.D.

Dr. Wen Shieh has many years of research experience in nutrient removal from water and wastewater, and water pollution. He is currently working on several international projects in Taiwan and China on using natural systems such as algae and aquaculture for nutrient removal, nitrogen in particular. According to Dr. Shieh, removal of nitrogen and other nutrients from water and wastewater to aid water reuse is of utmost importance to achieve water sustainability as many nations have limited water resources. His students in Taiwan are working on a project to use algae for the removal of nitrogen from wastewater such as the wastewater generated on an animal farm. The project is funded by the government of Taiwan and aims to produce value-added products such as dietary proteins from algal biomass that is left over after the nitrogen removal. The project has a circular economy inspired approach as the dietary proteins produced have an intended on-farm use as animal feed.


Peter Stuck, PhD

Peter T. Struck is Professor and Chair of the Department of Classical Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. He is director of the Benjamin Franklin Scholars program and founder of its Integrated Studies curriculum. He is cofounder (with Sarah Igo) of the National Forum on the Future of Liberal Education, and has worked with foundations, media organizations, and scholarly societies to promote the liberal arts. He works on the intellectual history of Greek and Roman antiquity. His book Birth of the Symbol: Ancient Readers at the Limits of Their Texts (Princeton 2004) won the C. J. Goodwin Award from the American Philological Association for best book in Classical Studies. His most recent book is Divination and Human Nature: A Cognitive History of Intuition in Antiquity, (Princeton 2016), for which he also won the Goodwin Award, becoming the first person to win the award twice. He edited Mantikê (with Sarah Iles Johnston, Brill 2006), the Cambridge Companion to Allegory (with Rita Copeland, Cambridge 2010), and is general editor (with Sophia Rosenfeld) of the six-volume Cultural History of Ideasforthcoming from Bloomsbury Academic in 2020. He is currently writing a popular book on mythology for Princeton University Press. He has given dozens of lectures at universities in the United States and Europe, and has held fellowships from the National Humanities Center, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Whiting Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, the Center for Advanced Studies in Behavioral Sciences at Stanford, and the American Academy in Rome. He has won multiple teaching awards at Penn, including the Lindback Award, the university’s top teaching prize.


Marilyn Jordan Taylor, M.Arch

Marilyn Jordan Taylor is Professor of Architecture and Urban Design. She had a distinguished tenure as Dean of the School of Design from 2008 – 2016, having been a much admired practitioner. She is recognized worldwide as a thought leader in urban design, as well as a woman pioneer in the fields of architecture, planning, and construction. Her global stature is complemented by her down-to-earth demeanor and proven ability to interact easily with constituencies across communities, government, industry, and academia, both locally and internationally. She is a leader who exudes not only intellectual breadth, but also deep enthusiasm and compassion in her dedication to enhancing the vitality of urban communities through design.

Marilyn Taylor was Partner in Charge of the Urban Design and Planning Practice at Skidmore Owings & Merrill LLP and the first woman to serve as Chairman of Skidmore Owings & Merrill, is internationally known for her distinguished and passionate involvement in the design of large-scale urban projects and civic initiatives. Over a 35-year career with Skidmore Owings & Merrill, she led many of the firm’s largest and most complex projects around the world. She was also both the first architect and the first woman to serve as chairman (2005-07) of the Urban Land Institute, a non-profit research and educational institution, where she championed a renewed focus on cities, sustainable communities, and infrastructure investment.


Gina Tonn, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Wharton Risk Management and Decision Processes Center

Dr. Gina Tonn is at the Wharton Risk Management and Decision Processes Center. Her interdisciplinary research involves the application of systems analysis methods in conjunction with water resources and environmental engineering methods to improve the understanding and management of risks associated with natural hazards in a changing climate. Gina’s professional experience in water resources engineering includes floodplain management, hydrologic and hydraulic modeling, stormwater design, and water quality monitoring. She is a registered Professional Engineer and a Certified Floodplain Manager. Gina received her Ph.D. in Geography and Environmental Engineering from Johns Hopkins University where she was an IGERT Water, Climate, and Health trainee. She earned a B.S. in Biological Systems Engineering from Virginia Tech with a concentration in Land and Water Resources Engineering and an M.S. in Management of Technology from Vanderbilt University.

Research Interests: Risk analysis for natural hazards; Sustainable water resources management; Climate change adaptation; Resilient infrastructure systems; Agent-based modeling


Bethany Wiggin, PhD

Associate Professor of German
Founding Director, Penn Program in Environmental Humanities
Bethany Wiggin received her B.A. with Distinction in German and in Economics from Swarthmore College and her Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota. In 2014, she and her students co-founded the Penn Program in Environmental Humanities (ppehlab.org). She now directs PPEH at a moment of rapid programmatic growth. 

Since 2016, she co-organizes the Schuylkill River and Urban Waters Corps, an informal collective of academic, non-profit, civic and community organizations. Based in Philadelphia, The SRUWC is devoted to exploring and stewarding urban waters past and present. The Corps is currently fostering collaborations in other cities, and we are building a digital archive for our members’ varied work: contributing, collecting, and curating oral histories; developing a variety of tours, both on-line and in-person; measuring air and water quality; and designing and building an array of citizen science and public humanities projects to discover and document the waters–and invite considerations of how they will exist in the future.


Susan Wachter

Susan M. Wachter is the Albert Sussman Professor of Real Estate, and Professor of Finance at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, the Director for the Wharton GeoSpatial Initiative and Lab, and the co-director of the Penn Institute for Urban Research. She also co-directs the Spatial Integration Laboratory for Urban Systems at the University of Pennsylvania. As an economist, she is frequently sought for comment on real estate market trends in well known media outlets

Wachter was appointed the Assistant Secretary for Policy Development and Research with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (1998-2001). She currently serves on the Financial Research Advisory Committee for the Office of Financial Research, a sub-department of the U.S. Department of the Treasury (2016). Wachter was Celia Moh Visiting Professor at Singapore Management University (2004). She serves on the Board of Editors for various publications including the Journal of Housing Economics, the Housing Policy Debate, the Journal of Real Estate and Finance, and the Journal of Real Estate Research. Wachter is the co-editor, with Eugenie L. Birch, of the Social Science Research Network Urban Research eJournal.



Sally Willig, PhD

Lecturer & Advisor, Master of Environmental Studies

Dr. Sally Willig teaches Wetlands, Field Study of Puerto Rico’s Ecology and Regional Field Ecology in the Master of Environmental Studies program with the aim of getting students into the field to better understand ecosystem processes and patterns. She also advises students concentrating in Environmental Biology, Resource Management, and Environmental Education and Advocacy, and finds great satisfaction in helping students achieve academic and professional goals. Sally has her AB in Geology from Princeton University and a PhD in Geology from the University of Pennsylvania.



Shu Yang, PhD

Shu Yang’s current work focuses on structured materials with desired surface chemistry and morphology for water/oil repellency, oil/water separation, water condensation and desalination. For example, by mimicking surfaces of plants and animals, they pattern substrates with hydrophilic and hydrophobic surface chemistry, which are then arranged in various 3D shapes for highly efficient water evaporation, condensation, and transportation. By taking advantage of solar harvesting and radiative cooling, the Yang lab will develop cost-effective devices for drinking water and building envelops with adaptive heat rectifiers. Dr. Yang’s methodology for fabrication of these advanced materials transcends in scales, from nano- to macro-. In particular, they are highly inspired by origami and kirigami art forms, where the material performance can be enhanced by geometry to have large surface area, high compactness for transportation and storage, and environmental responsiveness, thus reducing overall cost and energy consumption. Dr. Yang’s research interests also include oil/water separation from wastewater, self-supporting water systems for buildings, and design of collapsible sewer pipes. 



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