Faculty Advisory Board
The Water Center’s Faculty Advisory Board provides guidance on our research agenda, programs and strategic direction
Eugenie Birch, PhD
Matthijs Bouw, M.S. Architecture
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
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
Dennis Culhane, PhD
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.
Reto Gieré, PhD
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.
Marilyn Howarth, MD, FACOEM
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.
Junhyong Kim, PhD
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.
Eric Orts, JSD
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.
Simon Richter, Ph.D.
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.
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.
Peter Stuck, PhD
Brenda Casper, PhD
Marilyn Jordan Taylor, M.Arch
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.