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AEESP Conference 2019

Plenary speakers

AEESP Plenary Talk #1 Exploring the Natural Environment Dimension of Cities in 4-D

Hydraulic Empires: Where Engineering – Science – Climate and Politics Meet

The Colorado River is one of the most complex, heavily used, and regulated rivers in the world. The already over-allocated river serves 40 million people and 5.5 million acres of agriculture land in a rapidly growing region across nine states and approximately 30 Native American communities in the US and Mexico. Now, in a 19 year drought and amid projections of climate change impacts, water managers and elected officials are in the midst of difficult negotiations about the future of the river. As the Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors gather in the middle of the Colorado River Basin, we are also just a few days away from the 150th anniversary of John Wesley Powell launching his 1869 exploration of the Colorado River. Back in 1869 the Colorado River was the last unexplored wilderness in the Continental United States. Powell, barely surviving the trip, went on to bring scientific expertise to Washington DC, eventually establishing the US government as the leading producer of science. Today, as we face a hard reckoning in the Colorado Basin, the scientific wisdom of Powell’s recommendations for the development of the Colorado Basin is increasingly clear.


In this presentation, we will briefly consider the early history of the Colorado River and the largely unheeded cautions of John Wesley Powell. We will then explore how the river is used today as well as the water management approaches and sustainability challenges facing the southwestern United States. Topics covered will include water supply and demand, state and federal water management frameworks, climatic variability and climate change, the role of science and politics, and the major questions we are facing. The challenges being addressed here are clearly relevant to growing arid and semi-arid regions throughout the world, but in an era of increasing climate uncertainty they may be relevant to your own communities as well.

Jim Holway, Ph.D.
Director, Babbitt Center for Land and Water Policy at the Lincoln Institute for Land Policy
Board member and previous Vice President of the Board, Central Arizona Water Conservation District


Jim Holway directs the recently established Babbitt Center for Land and Water Policy. He was also elected to the Board of the Central Arizona Water Conservation District in November 2010. Jim has 35 years of experience on water, land, and natural resources management. Dr. Holway previously served as Assistant Director of the Arizona Department of Water Resources and worked at Arizona State University as a Professor of Practice in Sustainability and the ASU Coordinator for the Arizona Water Institute. Dr. Holway earned a B.S. in Political Science from Cornell University and both a Ph.D. and Masters in Regional Planning from the University of North Carolina and was inducted into the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Certified Planners in 2012. Dr. Holway has lived in Arizona since 1992.

AEESP Plenary Talk #2 Exploring the Cyberspace Dimension of Cities in 4-D

Air Quality Sensor Networks of the Future and the Essential Role of Environmental Engineers

In less than a decade, low cost air pollution sensors have rapidly developed and proliferated in use worldwide. This technology innovation is fueled by a worldwide demand for higher spatial and temporal information on air pollutants and enabled by recent developments in microprocessors, miniaturized sensors, data telemetry and storage, and data science. The vision for the widespread development and deployment of these sensors aligns with the National Research Council’s Environmental Engineering in the 21st Century Grand Challenges #4 (Create efficient, health, resilient cities) and #5 (Foster informed decisions and actions). In support of health goals, air sensors are growing in use for indoor air quality monitoring, wearable individual monitoring, outdoor sensor networks and mobile monitoring. Other applications include sensor networks for pollutant source identification and apportionment, industrial applications for leak detection, and emergency response scenarios. On the international scale, air sensor technology is considered a potential solution for countries lacking any air quality observations altogether. Some key challenges include the development of robust sensor systems, processing and interpretation of data, data accessibility, and data ownership. This revolution in how we measure air pollution needs the problem-solving capabilities of environmental engineers, however, also motivates a broad lens of knowledge and interdisciplinary teams that encompass engineering, environmental science, data science, social science, and law.

Gayle Hagler, Ph.D.
Assistant Laboratory Director
U.S. EPA Office of Research and Development


Dr. Gayle Hagler is an Assistant Laboratory Director with the U.S. EPA Office of Research and Development (ORD) National Exposure Research Laboratory and serves as a research coordinator with the ORD Air and Energy National Research Program. Dr. Hagler received a doctorate in environmental engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, GA. Her research interests at EPA include advancing monitoring technologies, data visualization approaches, and understanding complex spatiotemporal air pollution trends. Dr. Hagler also participates in EPA’s educational outreach in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). She was a 2016 recipient of the Arthur S. Flemming award for outstanding achievement in the federal government.

AEESP Plenary Talk #3 Exploring the Human Health Dimension of Cities in 4-D

The Indoor Microbiome: Implications for Children with Asthma and Astronauts on the International Space Station

Environmental engineers and public health professionals have a long history of collaboration to protect public welfare. This collaboration continues to expand into new areas, such as the indoor environment where we spend 90% of our time. Environmental engineers can have an important influence on health in this area through 1) collaborations with epidemiologists and 2) fundamental studies of processes related to exposure. For instance, our collaborations with public health professionals have demonstrated novel associations between indoor environmental exposures and childhood asthma. The use of -omics approaches has demonstrated the indoor microbial exposures may influence both asthma development and severity in previously unknown ways. Additionally, fundamental studies of microbial growth on building materials, especially carpet, have helped quantify exposure potential. Mathematical modeling of this growth can inform future exposure models, both in homes of children with asthma and in unique environments such as the International Space Station.

Karen C. Dannemiller, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Ohio State University


Karen C. Dannemiller studies the indoor microbiome and indoor chemical exposures. She graduated with honors in Chemical and Biochemical Engineering from Brown University and earned her PhD at Yale University in Chemical and Environmental Engineering. During this time, she completed an internship at the California Department of Public Health in the Indoor Air Quality Program. She was also a Microbiology of the Built Environment Postdoctoral Associate at Yale University. Her work improved our understanding of human exposures linked to childhood asthma development and severity. Her research also elucidated resident microbial populations and fundamental microbial processes occurring in homes. She is now an assistant professor at Ohio State University with a joint appointment in Civil, Environmental, and Geodetic Engineering and Environmental Health Sciences. She also has a courtesy appointment in Microbiology. In 2017 she was awarded the Denman Distinguished Research Mentor Award. At Ohio State, she leads the Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) group.

AEESP Plenary Talk #4 Exploring the Built Environment Dimension of Cities in 4-D

From Treatment to Resource: Capturing Value from What We Now Call Waste

While wastewater treatment has focused on removing water pollutants, many of the pollutants are valuable resources if recovered in a useful form. This presentation focuses on novel means to capture the energy value in “used waters,” including domestic wastewater. New developments in anaerobic membrane bioreactors (to generate methane) and microbial electrochemical cells (to generate electrical power or hydrogen gas) now make it feasible to achieve energy-positive treatment of the BOD. After recovery of the energy from used water, most of the N and P are released as inorganic forms that can be recovered for recycle to agriculture. Focusing on P, an important take-home lesson is that traditional techniques for “P removal” will not work for P recovery.

Bruce E. Rittmann, Ph.D.
Regent’s Professor
Arizona State University


Dr. Bruce E. Rittmann is Regents’ Professor of Environmental Engineering and Director of the Biodesign Swette Center for Environmental Biotechnology at Arizona State University. His research focuses on the science and engineering needed to “manage microbial communities to provide services to society.” Services include generating renewable energy, cleaning water and soil, and improving human health. Dr. Rittmann is a member of the National Academy of Engineering; a Fellow of AAAS, WEF, IWA, and NAI; and a Distinguished Member of ASCE.  Dr. Rittmann was awarded the first Clarke Prize for Outstanding Achievements in Water Science and Technology from the NWRI, the Walter Huber Research Prize and the Simon Freese Award from ASCE, the G.M. Fair Award from AAEES, and the Perry L. McCarty/AEESP Founders Award. He is the co-winner of the 2018 Stockholm Water Prize. Dr. Rittmann has published over 670 journal articles, books, and book chapters, and he has 16 patents. With Dr. Perry McCarty, Dr. Rittmann co-authored the textbook Environmental Biotechnology: Principles and Applications (McGraw-Hill Book Co.), and the second edition is expected in spring 2020.