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Our Team

Meet the Water Center's dedicated staff
Howard Neukrug

Howard Neukrug

Executive Director

hneukrug@upenn.edu

Bio

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, organizational development, strategic planning and trends and innovations in the global water industry.
Meg Kramer

Meg Kramer

Director of Strategic Development

megkra@sas.upenn.edu

Bio

Meg comes to The Water Center at Penn with a recently earned Master of Environmental Studies (MES) from University of Pennsylvania, hands on experience with land conservation, watershed education and environmental sustainability at the local level and a keen interest in water issues. She combines her interest in water with management expertise developed through decades of business and entrepreneurial experience to help The Water Center at Penn achieve its vision of becoming the preeminent center that provides real world solutions to critical urban water problems.
Karl Russek

Karl Russek

Director of Programs and Applied Research

russek@sas.upenn.edu

Bio

Karl Russek has over 25 years of experience in the areas of legacy pollutants, natural resources damage assessment, emerging environmental risks, industry/regulatory interface, and stakeholder management in the United States and globally. He holds a Master of Science degree in Environmental Quality Science from the University of Alaska where he focused assessment and restoration of freshwater systems. He most recently founded and managed the international environmental business for a leading global insurer.
Swati Hegde

Swati Hegde

Senior Academic Research Coordinator

swatih@sas.upenn.edu

Bio

Swati joined the Water Center at Penn as a Senior Academic Research Coordinator and brings her applied and real-world oriented research expertise in multidisciplinary areas such as biotechnology, chemical engineering, and sustainability. Swati has several years of research experience in food-water-energy nexus, water and wastewater analysis, bioremediation of pollutants such as textile dyes, crude oil and organic compounds, algal blooms and energy production from wastewater. Her doctoral research focused on the conversion of food processing wastewater to biofuels such as ethanol and butanol, organic acids and biogas using fermentative technologies by using experimental and systems approach. Her research interests include integrated wastewater management, desalination, emerging pollutants and runoff issues.
Erica DePalma

Erica DePalma

Research Program Coordinator

edepalma@sas.upenn.edu

Bio

Erica DePalma is a Master of Applied Geosciences candidate with a focus in hydrology at the University of Pennsylvania. While in graduate school, she hopes to bridge her professional work at the Water Center at Penn with the technical and scientific skills she’ll be learning in the classroom. Ultimately, she seeks to contribute professionally to mitigating the strain systemic injustices have on ensuring access to plentiful high-quality drinking water. Erica holds a Bachelor of Science from Fordham University and her previous work experience includes natural resource stewardship and fluvial geomorphology research at the NYC Department of Environmental Protection.
Andrea Garay

Andrea Garay

Administrative Manager

agaray@sas.upenn.edu

Bio

Andrea joined us from the College of Liberal and Professional Studies at the University of Pennsylvania where she was an administrative assistant for three programs: Master of Chemical Sciences, Master of Environmental Studies, & Master of Science in Applied Geosciences. She possesses a Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing and Logistics and Intermodal Transportation and a Master of Business Administration Concentration in International Business. Andrea’s previous work experiences range from raising money for foundations, handling customer service, sales and logistics for different businesses, and assisting faculty and students in different academic programs. At the Water Center, Andrea manages all offices and communications related duties including events, social media, website and graphics. Ultimately, she seeks to improve the visibility of the Water Center by efficiently communicating the importance of our mission and vision to the public.
Krystal Pleasant

Krystal Pleasant

Communications Manager

krpleas@sas.upenn.edu

Bio

Krystal Pleasant has spent more than 15 years building strategic and creative communications campaigns, specializing in brand positioning, message development, and digital strategy. Krystal joins us from the University of South Florida where she was the assistant director of communications and marketing for the Health Development and Alumni Relations office. She led the communications strategy for fundraising and alumni engagement and developed the brand concept and communications program for an award-winning campaign to raise funds for student success projects. She also served as a judge coordinator for the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. Previously, Krystal oversaw the public relations strategy for a $20 million federally funded research program at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. Prior to that, Krystal was an associate for the global PR firm GMMB and was a technical writer for urban and community development at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ), focusing on topics such as environmental health and disparities among certain racial and ethnic groups. Krystal holds a Master’s degree in Communication Arts from New York Institute of Technology.

Byron Sherwood

Byron Sherwood

Senior Fellow

Senior Fellow

Bio

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.
Scott Moore

Scott Moore

Senior Fellow

Water Resource Specialist

Bio

Scott Moore is a political scientist whose work focuses on water politics and policy, especially in China and South Asia. Scott is currently a Senior Fellow at the Penn Water Center as well as Director of China Programs in the Office of the Provost at the University of Pennsylvania. Until 2018, Scott was a Young Professional and Water Resources Management Specialist with the World Bank Water Global Practice, where he co-led a study of China’s water sector with the Development Research Center of the State Council and was a co-author of two flagship reports, High and Dry: Climate Change, Water, and the Economy, and Uncharted Waters: the New Economics of Water Scarcity and Variability. Previously, Scott served as Environment, Science, Technology, and Health Officer for China at the U.S. Department of State, where he worked extensively on the Paris Agreement on climate change, and prior to that was Giorgio Ruffolo Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at Harvard University. He has published widely on the full range of global water issues in leading publications including Nature, Foreign Affairs, and The New York Times. He is also the author of Subnational Hydropolitics: Conflict, Cooperation, and Institution-Building in Shared River Basins, published in 2018 by Oxford University Press. Scott holds a doctorate in Politics and a master’s degree in Environmental Change and Management from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar, and a bachelor’s degree from Princeton.
Alison De Luise

Alison De Luise

Senior Advisor

adeluise@sas.upenn.edu

Bio

Alison applies 15 years of international development policy, program and partnership experience towards urban sustainability challenges.  She holds a Master in Environmental Management at Duke University where her research focused on how cities can harness green stormwater infrastructure investments to maximize delivery of other social, environmental and economic co-benefits. At WCP, Alison is developing holistic strategies to address interconnected water challenges faced by Pittsburgh’s Three Rivers communities. Previous roles have included community development in Swaziland, representing the Australian government in Papua New Guinea’s Highlands, managing the agricultural productivity program for the Australian aid program, and leading strategic partnership development for an international research organization focused on safeguarding and use of agricultural biodiversity.
Andrew Kricun

Andrew Kricun

Senior Advisor

Advisor

Bio

Andrew Kricun is a Senior Advisor at the Water Center at Penn working on various projects related to the Delaware River watershed. He is also a Senior Fellow with the US Water Alliance and a Senior Director with Moonshot Missions. Previously Andy was the Executive Director and Chief Engineer of the Camden County Municipal Utilities Authority, overseeing an 80 million gallon per day wastewater treatment plant in Camden, NJ. He graduated with honors from Princeton University with a degree in chemical engineering, holds a professional engineer’s license in civil engineering and is a board-certified environmental engineer. Andy serves on the New Jersey Environmental Justice Advisory Council and served on the board of the National Association of Clean Water Agencies as the chair of its Utility of the Future and Environmental Justice committees.
Joanne Dahme

Joanne Dahme

Senior Advisor

Advisor

Bio

Joanne most recently served as the Philadelphia Water Department’s Deputy Commissioner for Communications and Engagement (DCCE) and was responsible for developing and implementing strategies that enhanced PWD’s image, services and engagement with its customers, all residents, elected officials, media and key stakeholders. Joanne directed the planning, development and implementation of programs designed to inform and serve water, wastewater and stormwater customers and the public and to increase the PWD’s credibility and accessibility. In October 2019, Joanne established Mayfly Communications, a professional service that specializes in public engagement, education and communications around environmental policies and regulatory challenges with a focus on water resources.
Joanne Spigonardo

Joanne Spigonardo

Senior Advisor

Advisor

Bio

In her former roles, Joanne served as Senior Associate Director at the Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership (IGEL) at Wharton.  Joanne was also part of the Communications Office. She held positions as business manager of the Wharton Seminars for Business Journalists and for the Wharton Alumni Magazine. Joanne also served as the media relations coordinator. When with Alitalia Airlines, Joanne worked as a sales representative.

Joanne graduated from The University of Pennsylvania with a BA and later graduated from the Wharton Aresty Institute of Executive Education. She has a strong background in development, management, marketing, and Italian language and culture.
As a Wharton Mentor, she coached new employees on professional development, and is active in Penn’s Grievance panels.  Joanne was on the board of governors for the University Club. Joanne is chair of the Delaware County Penn Alumni Interview Program and oversees alumni volunteers. As an alum of Penn and Wharton, and also a parent of two Penn graduates, she is a strong advocate in promoting Penn.
At Wharton IGEL, Joanne had been in partnership with GreenBiz, Sustainable Brands, the Ethical Corporation, Pira Packaging International, Public Relations Society of America, the Green Sports Alliance, World Trade Center of Greater Philadelphia, the Italian Consulate, the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, the Sonoma County Winegrowers Association, and the Nature Conservancy, as well as, many other NGO and government offices. She has brokered hundreds of corporate relationships for Wharton.
Joanne is the author of her book, White Widow, published on Kindle and Amazon. The book is a fictional novel about 19th-20th Century Italian immigrants. https://www.amazon.com/White-Widow-Joanne-Natale-Spigonardo/dp/B085DT65DB
Tony Sauder

Tony Sauder

Senior Advisor

Advisor

Bio

Tony Sauder is a registered professional engineer and geologist with more than 30 years of experience in water resources, hydrogeology and environmental engineering. At Penn, he serves as an academic advisor and lecturer in the Masters of Applied Geosciences (MSAG) program. For the past 15 years, he has brought practical experience to his hydrology classes from working at Pennoni on challenging water supply and stream restoration projects. Previously, he lived and worked internationally for over 10 years on projects involving water supply and sustainable development in Chad, Sudan, and Honduras. He has mentored projects with Engineers without Borders’ (EWB) in Honduras, Guatemala and Cameroon and serves with the Global Water Alliance. Tony received a dual master’s degree in Civil Engineering and Engineering Geology from Drexel.
Stephanie Chiorean

Stephanie Chiorean

Senior Advisor

Advisor

Bio

Corey Wills

Corey Wills

Watershed Resource Analyst

Intern

Bio

Corey has a diverse background spanning food justice, grassroots organizing, mental health advocacy, and sustainable agriculture. She is currently pursuing a Masters of Environmental Studies degree at the University of Pennsylvania, where she is focusing on the creation and management of water and food systems which are both sustainable and just. Her professional goal is to implement equitable city planning practices which provide clean water, healthy food, and green spaces for all residents. Corey is joining The Water Center at Penn to provide geographic information systems analysis of Pennsylvanian watershed conservation efforts while also analyzing the best sites for green roofs on the University of Pennsylvania’s campus.
Zachary Villari

Zachary Villari

Watershed Resource Analyst

Research Assistant

Bio

Zachary Villari is currently a graduate student enrolled in the University of Pennsylvania’s Master’s in the Applied Geosciences Program pursuing a degree in hydrogeology. Prior to his time at UPenn, Zachary graduated from Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, PA with a Major in the Geosciences and a minor in Spanish. His interest in the water sciences led him to conduct undergraduate research at F & M where he investigated the source of an abnormal karst spring in Boiling Sprigs, PA. Most recently, Zachary has worked for the Environmental Integrity Project in Washington, D.C. as a research analyst intern where he worked on several projects involving the protection of major water sources from coal ash pollution. Zachary hopes to use his knowledge and love for the outdoors to thoroughly research what can be done to make the Delaware River safe and accessible for anyone who seeks to enjoy this historic body of water.
Saffron Livaccari

Saffron Livaccari

Water Resource Data Analyst

Research Assistant

Bio

Saffron is currently working towards a Master of Environmental Studies degree with a concentration in Sustainability.  Prior to UPenn, she graduated from Stony Brook University with a degree in Applied Mathematics and a minor in Music. After working in banking for two years, Saffron was inspired to switch her career into environmental issues. She hopes to combine her previous experiences with finance and mathematics to help preserve and sustain fresh drinking water. Saffron will join The Water Center as a data analyst for bacteria levels in the Delaware and Schuylkill River.
Rupika Ketu

Rupika Ketu

Watershed Resource Analyst

Research Assistant

Bio

Rupika is currently working towards a Master of Environmental Studies degree with a concentration in environmental biology. Her interests include water quality protection through ecological restoration and conservation, as well as microplastics. She recently received a grant from The Water Center to study microplastics contamination in Philadelphia’s freshwater tributaries. Prior to this Rupika was working in non-profit settings, analyzing and advocating for stronger watershed protection policies throughout the Delaware River Basin. She holds a B.S. in Environmental Policy, Institutions, and Behavior from Rutgers University. During her time at The Water Center, Rupika hopes to contribute her efforts to improve local water resources and develop the skills needed to become a water quality scientist.  
 Rui Jiang

Rui Jiang

GIS Analyst

Research Assistant

Bio

Rui Jiang is currently a graduate student in the Master of Science in Applied Geosciences Program at the University of Pennsylvania, concentrating in Environmental Geology. For her undergrad, Rui graduated from Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, with a degree in Environmental Sciences. She also conducted undergraduate research to determine the origin of the world’s largest sailing ship ballast piles, driven by her interest in archaeology. Rui hopes to apply her GIS skills and use her knowledge on environmental issues to make the Delaware River “swimmable.” At the same time, while at the Water Center, she wants to gain experience from experts and develop skills for the future. 

Volunteers

Gregory Donworth

Gregory Donworth

Volunteer

Bio

Greg is currently working towards a Master of Behavioral and Decision Sciences degree. His interests include using behavioral science-driven design and research methods to create innovative public policy programs. Greg was among the winners in the Spring 2020 Water Center Behavioral Design competition, aimed at reducing bottled water consumption in Philadelphia. Greg is currently employed full-time as a Consumer Insights Manager at Aramark, where he performs market research studies to create consumer-driven innovation at Higher Education and K-12 clients. Prior to this, Greg received a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Drexel University and founded a digital, on-demand farmers market that was acquired in 2018. Greg hopes to contribute a social and data science background to The Water Center, to help create more effective public policy initiatives.