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Workshop 1: Urban Water Security and Sanitation

Speakers’ Abstracts and Biographies



Yongsheng Chen, Ph.D.

Professor and Director, USDA project on Food Energy Water Sustainability, Nutrients Energy Water Center for AGTECH. School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology – Atlanta, Georgia

Country: United States of America

Title: “Future Perspectives of Wastewater Treatment”

Abstract: Domestic wastewater is the most abundant, ubiquitously available wastewater, but little to no recovery of nutrients, energy, or water is practiced at-large. Considering the issues raised by current wastewater treatment practice, it is critical to shift our current treatment to a more circular economic practice paradigm, providing recovery nutrient and safe water, reducing environmental impacts and treatment cost. Here, we propose to recover the nutrients and water for decentralized food production using anaerobic membrane biotechnology and controlled environment agriculture. In this aspect, I will share our ideas on newly funded by USDA and NSF-CPS projects.

Biography: Yongsheng Chen is a Professor in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology, the Director of USDA Project on Food Energy Water Sustainability, the Director of Nutrients Energy Water Center for AGTECH. He also holds a position of an Adjunct Professor at Arizona State University. He earned both his Master and PhD degrees at Nankai University, China. His research interests include nanotechnology for environmental applications and implications, novel membrane technology for sustainable energy and nutrients recovery, and Food-Energy-Water Nexus. Dr. Chen has served as PI/co-PI on sponsored research projects totaling more than $40M, of which, $ 18 M has been, or is being, spent in his laboratory. His research has been funded by the DOE, EPA, NASA, NIH, USDA, and NSF. He has published over 175 archival refereed publications. His citation exceeds 14,800 and he has an impressive H-index of 61. He has received many awards, including 2021 CAPEES/Nanova Lifetime Achievement Award, 2020 Georgia Institute of Technology Interdisciplinary Research Award, 2019 Great Teacher Award at Georgia Institute of Technology, 2015 Sigma Xi Best PhD Student Dissertation Advisor Award, and 2014 AEESP Outstanding PhD Student advisor Award. His work has been reported by more than 13 national and international media including Forbes, AEESP, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC), and Water Environment Federation.

Email: yongsheng.chen@ce.gatech.edu


Jie Liu, Ph.D.

Research Scientist, College of Engineering, Peking University – Beijing

Country: China

Title: The Water-Energy Nexus of Megacities Beyond Geographic Boundaries: A Case of Beijing, China”

Abstract: The water-energy nexus (WEN) is dynamic and complicated in megacities, most of which are challenged by water shortages and the mandate to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. A salient feature of water and energy services in megacities is that they are supported by a web of regional infrastructure, extending far beyond the geographic boundaries of the cities, resulting in a strong dependence on resources imported from outside. This study provides a quantitative assessment of the WEN of Beijing. Results show that water for local energy production and transformation accounts for 5.6% of its total freshwater use in 2016, and the energy for local water abstraction, supply and treatment accounts for 1.1% of its total energy consumption for the same year. The water for external “imported” energy is 1.3 times of Beijing’s freshwater use for internal energy and keeps increase with the implementation of the energy policy calling for replacing local coal consumption through imported electricity and natural gas. Analysis of WEN beyond the geographical boundaries for megacities illustrates that there are trade-offs in the policy choice between the use of internal and external resources, as well as between importing water and importing energy.

Biography: Jie Liu received her Ph.D. in hydrogeology from the University of Alabama, U.S. in 2007. She was a postdoctoral fellow at Peking University from 2007 to 2009. Since 2009, she has been the research scientist in the College of Engineering (COE), Peking University. Dr. Liu’s major study areas include groundwater flow and transport modeling, basin-scale groundwater management, sustainable water resources management, and water-energy-nexus. Since 2017 she has acted as the Director of Global Exchange Program (Globex) and the Grand Challenges Scholars Program (GCSP) for the education globalization at COE.

Email: jie.liu@pku.edu.cn


Archileo N. Kaaya, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Food Technology and Nutrition, Makerere University – Kampala

Country: Uganda

Title: “Sustainable Urban Water Security, Hygiene and Sanitation: A case for Kampala Capital City, Uganda“

Abstract: Water, hygiene and sanitation (WASH) continue to be major constraints in urban centres in Uganda. Kampala Capital City (KCC) is Uganda’s largest city located at the periphery of Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest fresh water lake. Kampala is rapidly growing, with economic opportunities driving the rural-urban migration, and consequently increasing the rate of informal settlements and slums. This has led to increased demand for clean water and several challenges of hygiene, sanitation and waste management. This paper, discusses challenges of the country to sustainably supply clean water and manage hygiene and sanitation to ensure improved livelihood of the populace living in the City. It further discusses opportunities and strategies Government of Uganda has put in place to cope with WASH constraints in KCC.

Biography: Archileo N. Kaaya has teaching and research experience of more than 20 years in the Department of Food Technology and Nutrition, Makerere University, Uganda. He possesses a PhD in Food Science and Technology from Virginia Tech USA/Makerere University and MSc from University of Florida, USA. His main areas of research are Food Safety and quality where he has published widely in international journals.  He has been a Principal investigator of several research projects networking with scientists all over the world. He has good experience working with urban and peri-urban communities, to address food and nutrition security issues. He belongs to several technical committees in Uganda including those addressing issues of food quality, safety and nutrition. He has been awarded several consultancies by international organizations like USAID, WHO, FAO and WFP to address Food Safety and nutrition in the country. He has received several awards and, is a Fellow of the Uganda Academy of Sciences.

Email: ankaaya@caes.mak.ac.ug


Hui Lu, Ph.D.

Department of Earth System Science, Tsinghua University – Beijing

Country: China

Title: “Projecting future flood risks in China Megacity Clusters”

Abstract: Floods are one of the most destructive natural disasters, while climate change will further increase the frequency and intensity of floods. Projecting future flood losses is essential for disaster prevention and mitigation, and also the active response to climate change. China is in the process of rapid urbanization, and most of the megacities and populations are distributed in floodplains, facing severe flood disasters. Using the latest CMIP6 data to drive VIC hydrological model and CaMa-Flood hydrodynamic model, we project the future flood risks of the megacities in China, where more than 700 million people lived in. We find that the urban flood risk in China will dramatically increase in the future, with the extent and timing of the increase varying from region to region.

Biography: Hui Lu is now a tenured associate professor in the Department of Earth System Science, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China. He received his B.Eng. and M.Eng. degrees from Tsinghua University and a Ph.D. degree in hydrology from The University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan, in 2006. His current research interests include the development of the hydrologic model, microwave remote sensing of the land surface, and application of Earth observation data in the water cycle and global change studies. He has published more than 150 papers in journals and conference proceedings. He is a senior member of IEEE, a member of the editorial board of Remote Sensing of Environment, an associate editor of Science of Remote Sensing and Frontiers in Remote Sensing. He also was a recipient of the 2015 Best Reviewer Award from Science China Earth Science and the Publons’ 2018 Peer Review Awards in the Geoscience field and Multidisciplinary field

Email: luhui@tsinghua.edu.cn


Alexandros Stefanakis, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, School of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, Technical University of Crete – Crete

Country: Greece

Title: “Case Studies of Nature-Based Solutions for Sustainable Management of Municipal Wastewater”

Abstract: The circular economy model is viewed today as a new approach to deal with global environmental challenges. Water is a fundamental resource for the human society and the ecosystems that is shared across the entire supply chain. However, the current linear economic model (extraction, use, discharge) has created a series of limitations in freshwater availability, in addition to the wastewater generation and environmental degradation due to climate change. There is a need for a comprehensive plan for the sustainable use of wastewater. Nature-based solutions (NBS) such as constructed wetlands can contribute towards a circular management of water. NBS apply ecological engineering techniques for wastewater treatment with reduced carbon footprint and minimum use of materials, enabling the valorization of the treated effluents for beneficial reuse and recycling, closing this way the loop of water as a natural resource. This presentation will show NBS research and case studies for wastewater treatment in different climatic contexts, where the treated effluents are reused in agriculture and/or recycled in industrial processes.

Biography: Alexandros Stefanakis is an Assistant Professor at the School of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, Technical University of Crete in Greece. He is a Regional Coordinator for Africa and Middle East for the ‘Wetlands for Water Pollution Control’ Specialist Group of the International Water Association. He is the Editor-in-Chief of the Springer journal ‘Circular Economy and Sustainability’, and Associate Editor of other scientific journals. He is an Environmental Engineer and Researcher focusing on water engineering and specifically on nature-based solutions and ecological engineering. He is an expert on sustainable and decentralized water and wastewater treatment systems. He has designed, managed, and supervised several wastewater treatment facilities across Europe, Middle East, Africa, USA and South America using nature-based solutions such as constructed wetlands. He also studies the principles and the content of circular economy and how this new growth model can be implemented to reach the goal of a sustainable society. In the past, he worked as Researcher and Lecturer at the University of Brighton in the UK, the University of Beira Interior in Portugal, the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research – UFZ in Germany, and the Democritus University of Thrace in Greece. He also has extensive experience in the industry as he was employed by environmental companies (Ecosafe in Greece, Bauer in Germany & Oman) as Wastewater Specialist-Wetland Expert and Tender Manager. His publication record includes several articles in international scientific journals and conference proceedings, as well as books and book chapters. He is known internationally as an enthusiast of green technologies for water management and reuse, always trying to promote and disseminate such technologies and transfer his knowledge to young engineers and students.

E-mail: astefanakis@enveng.tuc.gr

Webpage: https://www.chenveng.tuc.gr/en/personnel/faculty/alexandros-stefanakis


Michael Eisinger, Ph.D.

Managing Director, Center of Water and Environmental Research, University of Duisburg-Essen

Country: Germany

Title: “Transformation of multiple use urban river systems in a heavily industrialized area

Abstract: Few urban areas worldwide have repeatedly undergone such fundamental changes over the past 250 years as the Ruhr region in Germany. Accordingly, the development of the Ruhr area impressively illustrates the adaptations of water infrastructure, including the corresponding surface waters, resulting from various uses. One of the most drastic measures was the conversion of the river Emscher and its tributaries to an above-ground wastewater collection systems due to mining subsidence as a result of the rapid growth of the coal and steel industry. With its end, the Emscher system is now reconstructed as a river ecosystem considering recreational activities for the population and a valorization of land. This transformation process is an impressive best practice example for intelligent, integrated and sustainable water management in booming metropolitan areas of developing and newly industrializing countries which are facing competing uses of water.

Biography: Michael Eisinger studied biology at the Karl Ruprechts University in Heidelberg and marine biology at Northeastern University, USA. He received his PhD from the University of Duisburg-Essen on a coral reef ecology topic with numerous stays in Egypt and Jordan. He then worked in Yemen as a trainer for project staff of UNDP and World Bank projects and as a consultant in environmental impact studies. In 2006, he returned to the University of Duisburg-Essen and has been managing director of the interdisciplinary Center for Water and Environmental Research (ZWU) since 2007. He is coordinating a regional water network including water experts from the academic and non-academic sector.

E-mail: michael.eisinger@uni-due.de


Michael Seeger Pfeiffer, Ph.D.

Professor in Biotechnology, Biochemistry and Microbiology at Chemistry Department. Director of the Laboratory of Molecular Microbiology and Environmental Biotechnology and Senior Scientist of the Center for Biotechnology, Technical University Federico Santa Maria – Valparaiso

Country: Chile

Title: “Bioremediation of Hydrocarbon-polluted Soils is Crucial for Urban Sustainability”

Michael Seeger1, Constanza Macaya1, Flavia Dorochesi1, Ximena Báez1, Felipe Salazar1, Patricio Santis1, Roberto E. Durán1, Valentina Méndez1, Vanessa Ayala1, Myriam González1 & Roberto Orellana2 1Universidad Técnica Federico Santa María, Valparaíso, Chile. 2Universidad de Playa Ancha, Valparaíso, Chile. michael.seeger@usm.cl; michael.seeger@gmail.com

Abstract: The clean-up of polluted urban sites is essential towards a sustainable development. Bioremediation is a biological remediation technology of increasing application worldwide and in Latin America. The aims of this study are the application of native bacterial strains for the bioremediation of soils polluted with hydrocarbons. Pseudomonas, Acinetobacter and Rhodococcus strains were studied. Genome-guided analyses reveal their bioremediation potential and the physiological adaptation to pollutants. The genes involved in the catabolism of aromatic compounds and hydrocarbons, and the adaptation to stressful conditions were determined. Bioremediation processes have been established. The clean-up using bioaugmentation and biostimulation of hydrocarbon-polluted soils will be discussed. Based on these studies, site specific bioremediation processes for the clean-up of an urban site in the Valparaiso Region were designed, characterized, and approved by the environmental regulation agency. Acknowledgments: FONDECYT 1200756, USM and Inmobiliaria Las Salinas grants, RIABIN and FEWSUS networks.

Biography: Michael Seeger Pfeiffer is Full Professor in Biotechnology, Biochemistry and Microbiology at Chemistry Department, Technical University Federico Santa Maria in Valparaiso, Chile. He is Director of the Laboratory of Molecular Microbiology and Environmental Biotechnology and Senior Scientist of the Center for Biotechnology “CBDAL”. He is Biochemist and PhD in Biology of Universidad de Chile. His PhD thesis was conducted at German Research Centre for Biotechnology (Braunschweig, Germany) with Prof. Kenneth N. Timmis and Dr. Bernd Hofer. He is author of >135 scientific publications and 2 books on microbial metabolism and genetics, bioremediation, microbial ecology, bacterial leaching, and synthesis of bioproducts. He is inventor of 5 international patent families. He has guided 15 postdocs, 36 PhD, and 37 Master/undergraduate students. He is Director of the Biotechnology PhD program UTFSM-PUCV, Coordinator of the Latin American Network of Biotechnology PhD programs RIABIN since 2009, and member of Milano-Bicocca Environmental Sciences PhD program (Italy, 2017-2021). He received the “Scopus-Conicyt” award 2013 for the highest impact research in Biology & Biotechnology in Chile, American Academy of Microbiology fellowship (2009), Max Planck Society fellowship (Germany, 2010-2011) and was awarded with the Honorary Membership of the Chemical Society of Cuba (2018). He was president of Latin American Association of Microbiology (2004-2006) and Chilean Society of Microbiology (2004-2008), and co-Chair of First Latin American ISME-LA 2019 meeting (Valparaiso, Chile). Since March 2021 he is director of the Chilean Society of Biology.

Email: michael.seeger@usm.cl


Weiwei Mo, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of New Hampshire – Durham, New Hampshire

Country: United States of America

Title: “Decentralized Urban Water Systems for Enhanced Water and Energy Security”

Abstract: Decentralized, household water systems are increasingly discussed or applied for addressing urban water and energy security issues. However, our understandings regarding the consumer preferences of the decentralized systems, the influence of their adoption on the centralized network, and their optimal spatial distribution remain limited. To address these knowledge gaps, choice experiments were applied to characterize individual preferences, considering the economic costs and environmental impacts of the integration of centralized and decentralized systems. The estimated individual preferences were then used in a spatial agent-based model, designed to model spatially explicit adaptation trajectories and patterns in accordance with utility functions and characteristics of the major metropolitan case study locations. The agent-based model interfaces with a system dynamics model that considers interactions among centralized and decentralized infrastructure systems and characterizes the overall system sustainability and resiliency.

Biography: Weiwei Mo has a BS degree from Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China (2008), and a MS (2011) and Ph.D. (2012) degrees from University of South Florida. She is an associated professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of New Hampshire. Previously, she was a post-doctoral associate at Yale University. Her research seeks to understand and enhance infrastructure sustainability and resiliency using a systems approach. She has led several National Science Foundation-funded projects, working on integrated planning of water and energy systems, spatial optimization of decentralized infrastructure systems considering user preferences, and crowdsourced monitoring for drinking water safety and resiliency.

Email: Weiwei.Mo@unh.edu


Alex Guerra Noriega, Ph.D.

Director, Private Institute for Climate Change Research– Escuintla

Country: Guatemala

Title: “Water Governance progress after a Crisis: El Niño-triggered Drought and Water conflict in Southern Guatemala”

Abstract: Conflict over the extraction of water from rivers in southern Guatemala was on the brink of violence in 2016. Even though the conflict started over 25 years before, an El Niño-triggered drought played a role in the escalation of conflict. This presentation will provide information on the relationship between precipitation during the rainy season and river flow levels in the subsequent dry season. It explains critical levels of flow in 2016 associated to the very strong El Niño event that took place all through 2015, and how it triggered nearly violent actions. The paper also explains how conflict was managed and led to better water governance in the region. With one of the lowest scores in the level of Integrated Water Resource Management in the continent, Guatemala is likely to face higher levels of conflict despite having abundant water resources. Extreme events, both in terms of drought and flooding, can trigger escalation in water conflicts. The successful case of the rivers in southern Guatemala over five years (2016 to 2021) can provide lessons to advance in water security. Not only has conflict reached low levels but restoration of river flow, restoration of riparian forests, more rational water use, as well as improved community access to rivers have derived. This case can serve as an example of what authors such as Wolf have found in terms of water conflicts around the world, that crises bring about cooperation rather than war, which is radically different from the generalized notion that water wars will be common in the future.

Biography: Alex Guerra has been the General Director of the Climate Change Research Institute in Guatemala since 2010. He holds a Master’s in Water Science, Policy and Management and a PhD in Geography and the Environment, both from the University of Oxford, UK. Alex was a lecturer at a master’s program at the Del Valle University in Guatemala from 2012 to 2017. Previously he worked as a researcher in water resources at the Sierra de las Minas Biosphere Reserve. He is a Young Affiliate Member of TWAS LACREP 2018, and a member of the National Academy of Medical, Physical and Natural Sciences of Guatemala since 2015. He is author or co-author of several publications on disaster risk, water resources and climate change mitigation and adaptation. In the past two years, he has been the chair of the Guatemalan National Science System on Climate Change (SGCCC).

Email: aguerra@icc.org.gt


John Schwartz, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Director of Tennessee Water Resources Research Center, University of Tennessee – Knoxville, Tennessee

Country: United States of America

Title: “Development of the Urban Waters Report Card for the State of Tennessee”

Abstract: An Urban Waters Report Card (UWRC) is under development by a state-wide working group effort consisting of Nashville Metro, the cities of Chattanooga, and Memphis, and counties of Hamilton, Shelby, and Knox.  Staff from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) are also involved with its development though the UWRC does not have a regulatory focus.  The main goal of the UWRC to provide municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4s) with an assessment tool that can incrementally quantify improvements to watershed/stream quality rather than solely relying on the §303(d) based criteria.  The proposed UWRC will provide MS4s communities common assessment protocols to “grade” watershed quality.  Grades will be easily interpreted by the public and demonstrate the improvements from the implementation of stormwater control measures and stream restoration projects.  The effort includes development of a web site to post the UWRC grades.  The proposed UWRC will consist of broad categories (i.e., water quality, watershed hydrology, stream corridor, and social values) and category metrics in which data can be compiled relatively quickly from desktop obtained data, rapid field assessments, and public surveys.  The current status of the UWRC development and the plans for beta testing will be presented. 

Biography: John Schwartz has over 30 years of experience in academics and professional engineering practice. His research interests include watershed hydrology and sediment modeling, river mechanics, ecological engineering, ecohydraulics, stream restoration, and water quality. He joined the faculty of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Tennessee (UT) in August 2003. He has a PhD in Environmental Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, an MS in Fisheries Science (Water Resources) from Oregon State University, and a BS in Civil Engineering from the University of Missouri at Columbia. Professional experience includes private consulting in the State of Oregon as a licensed engineer, US Environmental Protection Agency (NPDES compliance), and US Peace Corps. Schwartz is an active member of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), Environmental and Water Resources Institute serving on the Urban Water Resources Research Council and River Restoration and Sedimentation committees.

Email: jschwart@utk.edu



Pedro J.J. Alvarez, Ph.D.

George R. Brown Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Founding Director of the NSF ERC on Nanotechnology-Enabled Water Treatment (NEWT), Rice University– Houston, Texas

Country: United States of America

Title: “Nanotechnology-Enabled Water Treatment. A perspective for Distributed Treatment and Reuse

Abstract: Through control over material size, morphology and chemical structure, nanotechnology offers novel materials that are nearly “all surface” and that can be more reactive per atom than bulk materials. Such engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) can offer superior catalytic, adsorptive, optical, quantum, electrical and/or antimicrobial properties that enable multi-functional technology platforms for next-generation water treatment. This presentation will address emerging opportunities for nanotechnology to improve the selectivity and efficiency to remove priority pollutants, decrease electrical energy requirements, and meet a growing need for safer and more affordable decentralized water treatment and reuse. Examples of applicable nano-enabled technologies include capacitive deionization with highly conductive and selective electrodes to remove multivalent ions that precipitate or cause scaling; solar-thermal processes enabled by nanophotonics to desalinate with membrane distillation; disinfection and advanced oxidation using nanocatalysts; and nanostructured surfaces that discourage microbial adhesion and protect infrastructure against biofouling and corrosion. We envision using these enabling technologies to develop compact modular water treatment systems that are easy to deploy and can treat challenging waters to protect human lives and support economic development. 

Biography: Pedro J.J. Alvarez is the George R. Brown Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Rice University, where he also serves as founding Director of the NSF ERC on Nanotechnology-Enabled Water Treatment (NEWT). His research interests include environmental implications and applications of nanotechnology, bioremediation, fate and transport of toxic chemicals, water footprint of biofuels, water treatment and reuse, and antibiotic resistance control. Pedro received the B. Eng. Degree in Civil Engineering from McGill University and MS and Ph.D. degrees in Environmental Engineering from the University of Michigan. He is the 2012 Clarke Prize laureate and also won the 2014 AAEES Grand Prize for Excellence in Environmental Engineering and Science. Past honors include President of AEESP, the Perry McCarty AEESP Founders’ Award for Outstanding Contributions to Environmental Engineering Education & Practice, the AEESP Frontiers in Research Award, the WEF McKee Medal for Groundwater Protection, the SERDP cleanup project of the year award, the Brown and Caldwell lifetime achievement award for site remediation, the ASCE Freese Award, and various best paper awards with his students. Pedro has served on the advisory committee of the NSF Engineering Directorate and on the scientific advisory board of the EPA, and is currently an Associate Editor of Environmental Science and Technology. He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering for pedagogical and practical contributions to bioremediation and environmental nanotechnology.

Email: alvarez@rice.edu


Miguel Fuentes-Cabrera, Ph.D.

Scientist, Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences, Oak Ridge National Laboratory – Oak Ridge, Tennessee

Country: United States of America

Title: “An Agent-Based Model and a Recurrent Neural Network Metamodel for Investigating the Growth of Sucrose-Exporting Cyanobacteria

Abstract: Bacteria are used to clean wastewater. Crucial for the success of this process is understanding how bacterial populations grow and how the different species interact. Some years ago, some of us implemented a modeling technique, known as Agent-Based Model, in a high-performance computer code, LAMMPS. This ABM-LAMMPS implementation is called NUFEB, and it has been used many times before to study the growth of bacterial populations important for wastewater treatment. Here we will present results on how NUFEB can also be used to study synthetic microbial populations that can be tuned to produce goods, e.g. biofuels. We will present results obtained for a type of cyanobacteria that secretes large amounts of sucrose, which other bacteria can used for growing. Further, we will present results on how artificial neural networks, in particular Recurrent Neural Networks, can complement NUFEB for predicting microbial growth.

Biography: Miguel Fuentes-Cabrera is a staff member of the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences, Oak Ridge National Laboratory. He received his Ph.D. in Physics from the University of La Laguna, Canary Islands, Spain. Dr. Fuentes-Cabrera uses computational techniques to study a variety of problems from condensed matter physics to biology to microbiology. During the past year, he has been using machine and deep learning techniques to analyze experimental and simulated images of microbial communities for understanding and then predicting their growth.

Email: fuentescabma@ornl.gov


Paolo Zuliani, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, School of Computing at Newcastle University – Newcastle upon Tyne

Country: United Kingdom

Title: “Towards Full-scale Modelling of Microbial Communities Using Individual-based Models”

Abstract: Microbial communities such as biofilms are key players in many wastewater treatment plants. However, we have little understanding of the complex behaviours that can emerge from multispecies communities. This significantly hampers our ability to engineer open microbial systems that efficiently address pressing societal needs such as, eg, water sanitation. In this talk, we present our tool NUFEB (Newcastle University Frontiers in Engineering Biology), a massively parallel simulator for individual-based modelling of microbial communities. NUFEB allows studying population behaviours that emerge from the interaction between individuals and their environment. In particular, NUFEB implements a wide range of biological, physical and chemical processes. We showcase the validation of NUFEB against several biofilm benchmarks from the microscale (10^7 microbes) up to the mesoscale (10^10 microbes) through the use of machine learning techniques. We conclude with some thoughts on making NUFEB more accessible to microbial modellers.

Biography: Paolo Zuliani is Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) in the School of Computing at Newcastle University, UK. He received his Laurea degree in computer science from the Universita’ degli Studi di Milano, Italy, and his DPhil in computer science from the University of Oxford, UK. Dr. Zuliani’s expertise lies largely in computational modelling and formal, automated methods for reasoning about computing systems, with an emphasis on systems biology and systems medicine. He is in particular interested in the verification of cyber-physical systems, biological and medical systems, and in efficient techniques for individual-based modelling of microbial systems and of skin diseases (psoriasis).

Email: paolo.zuliani@newcastle.ac.uk


Marco Antonio Rodríguez Domínguez

Ph.D. candidate, Department of Biology and the Department of Biological and Chemical Engineering – Process and Materials Engineering Aarhus University – Aarhus

Country: Denmark

Title: “Potential of the Treatment Wetlands in the Latin American and Caribbean region for facing the current wastewater problems”

Abstract: Treatment wetlands (TW) technology is a nature-based solution (NbS), where natural processes are emulated and optimized through engineered designs to improve water quality. TWs are characterized by relatively low establishment costs, robustness, low operational and maintenance investments, and a known capacity to treat a broad range of pollutants and under a variety of climatic conditions. This technology is considered one of the most sustainable technologies for wastewater treatment (WT) if compared to other conventional treatment technologies. TW ‘sustainability’ is substantiated by the fact that TW can successfully improve water quality, but can also provide a multitude of other functions, such as sustaining biodiversity, mitigation of climate change, carbon sequestration, hydrological flow regime regulation, public use, education, habitat conservation and creation among others.  TW sustainability have been evaluated in the terms of their capacity to improve water quality of different concentrations and origins, shown to be effective for pollution control in the domestic wastewater, urban  runoffs, slaughterhouses, industrial, urban sewage, and others. Due their capacities, TW seem to be a suitable technology for facing the wastewater problems in the Latin-America and Caribbean region (LAC), where it has been estimated that the pollution in rivers and freshwater affects up to one-third of the rivers, and one-seventh of the length of them in the region, and the wastewater treatment and sanitization coverage is lower than 25% in average. TW can bring, if effectively implemented, cheaper and permanently wastewater treatment for the most vulnerable population in the region.

Biography: Marco Antonio Rodríguez Domínguez is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Aarhus University (Denmark) working with the Department of Biology, the Centre for Water Technology WATEC, and the Department of Biological and Chemical Engineering – Process and Materials Engineering. He is a young researcher and entrepreneur specialized in nature-based solutions for wastewater and waste treatment using constructed wetlands and biorefining processes. In 2009, he finished his bachelor on Environmental Systems Engineering at the Polytechnical National Institute in Mexico. In 2012, he obtained the Master Degree in Water Science at the Mexican Technological Institute of Water in Mexico. In 2020, he wrote the first Latin-American review about Constructed Wetlands, which was published in the Journal Water. In 2020 and 2021, he researches the use of biomass of constructed wetlands for the production of high-value products, like protein, cellulose, and bio-crude using the biorefining process. Marco is the founder of Green Growth Group México SA de CV where he leads projects related to constructed wetlands for wastewater treatment, biorefining and bioproducts projects, environmental consultancy, and water rights in Mexico. He has been an independent consultant since 2011, when he founded the firm S.I.S.A. Soluciones Integrales y Servicios Ambientales, which was absorbed by Green Growth Group México SA de CV in 2014. In Latin America, Marco promotes the constructed wetland technology through the Pan-American Constructed Wetland Network Association (Red Panamericana de Sistemas de Humedales), where he serves as the technical secretary.

E-mail: mard@bios.au.dk


Jon Hathaway, Ph.D.

Associated Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Tennessee – Knoxville, Tennessee

Country: United States of America

Title: “Impervious Connectivity: Impacts on Urban Runoff and Implications for Green Infrastructure

Abstract: Impervious surfaces and efficient stormwater drainage networks work in concert to collect and convey rainfall quickly to urban stream systems with greater volume, higher pollutant loading, and higher energies than previously experienced in predeveloped conditions. However, there is still a lack of understanding as to how to quantify urban watershed complexity and connectivity in ways that can be used to advance urban water management. New methods are discussed in this presentation that can enhance urban hydrologic assessments by incorporating high-resolution data and fine-scale processes to better address the spatial variability in surface cover and hydrologic conditions in urban watersheds. A case study from Knoxville, TN, will be used to demonstrate and discuss this new methodology developed to identify impervious areas that are closely linked to downstream resources in urban watersheds, effectively identifying “hotspots” of connectivity that can be targeted with green infrastructure applications.

Biography: Jon Hathaway is an associate professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee, USA. He received his PhD from North Carolina State University in 2010, where he studied the fate, transport, and removal of indicator bacteria in urban stormwater runoff. After a brief research fellowship at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, and nearly two and half years at one of the nation’s leading ecological design and consulting firms, he joined the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Tennessee. Dr. Hathaway is a recipient of the National Science Foundation CAREER award and serves as an Associate Editor for the Journal of Environmental Engineering. He is an elected member of both the ASCE EWRI Urban Water Resources Research Council Core Group and the International Water Association Joint Committee on Urban Drainage.

E-mail: jhathaw2@utk.edu


Juan Carlos Salcedo-Reyes, Ph.D.

Professor, Physics Department, Pontifical Xavierian University – Bogotá

Country: Colombia

Title: “Photocatalytic Activty of TiO2:N Films Growth by ALD for the Removal of Emerging Contaminants”

Abstract: This study presents an analysis of the photocatalytic efficiency in TiO2:N thin films grown by atomic layer Deposition (ALD) related to crystalline properties of the film. The study was performed using the time-dependent inactivation percentages for Escherichia coli bacteria, for potential applications in sewage purification.

Biography: Juan Carlos Salcedo-Reyes is a full professor in the Physics Department, Faculty of Sceinces, Pontifical Xavierian University, Colombia. He received his B.S. and M.S. degrees in Physics in 1997 and 2000, respectively, from the National University of Colombia and Ph.D in 2005 from Cinvestav, México. He did a postdoctoral research of nanotechnology at the University of Texas, Dallas, USA in 2006 and a postdoctoral research of metamaterials at the Materials Science Institute, Madrid, Spain in 2012. His main research interests include semiconductor nanotechnology development and purification of domestic and industrial wastewater using visible semiconductor photocatalysis technologies. A total of 42 refereed publications and 3 patents. Currently, editor in chief of the scientific journal “Universitas Scientiarum” (https://ciencias.javeriana.edu.co/universitas-scientiarum)

Email: salcedo.juan@javeriana.edu.co


Chairs:

Dr. Frank Löeffler, Dr. Michael Seeger, Dr. Jon Hathaway, Dr. Weiwei Mo

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E-mail: frank.loeffler@utk.edu; michael.seeger@usm.cl; jhathaw2@utk.edu; Weiwei.Mo@unh.edu