Keynote Presenters

Yvette Pearson
Associate Dean for Accreditation, Assessment and Strategic Initiatives
Rice University

Holden Thorp
Holden Thorp
Editor-in-Chief of Science

Platform Panel Discussion Speaker

Charles Bott

Janet Hering
Susanne Hering
Amy Pruden

Gary White

Speaker Bios

Charles B. Bott joined HRSD in 2009 and is the Director of Water Technology and Research. He manages technology innovation and R&D for HRSD’s sixteen wastewater treatment plants (249 MGD combined capacity).  Dr. Bott is also an Adjunct Professor in the Departments of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Virginia Tech and Old Dominion University. He was formerly an Associate Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) and a consulting engineer with Parsons Engineering Science.  Dr. Bott has a BS in Civil Engineering from the Virginia Military Institute, a MS in Environmental Engineering from the Johns Hopkins University, and a Ph.D. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Virginia Tech.  He is a fellow of the Water Environment Federation, a Professional Engineer in Virginia, a Board Certified Environmental Engineer, and a licensed Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator – Virginia Class I. 

Janet Hering is the Director of the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag) and Professor at the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology (ETH) in Zürich and Lausanne. Previously, she was on the faculties of Caltech and UCLA.  She is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering.  Her research interests include knowledge exchange at the interface of science with policy and practice, trace element biogeochemistry, and water treatment for the removal of inorganic contaminants.  As Director of Eawag, she oversees a staff of over 500, including ca. 175 researchers and 100 technical staff members.  Eawag hosts over 100 doctoral students conducting their thesis research.  Research at Eawag focuses broadly on water and the water environment, encompassing the continuum from relatively unperturbed aquatic ecosystems to fully engineered water and wastewater management systems.  In addition to its research activities, Eawag’s mandate encompasses both education and expert consulting.

Yvette E. Pearson is Associate Dean for Accreditation, Assessment, and Strategic Initiatives in the George R. Brown School of Engineering at Rice University and Founder of The Pearson Evaluation and Education Research Group (The PEER Group). A Fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), she is recognized globally for her work along the intersections of sustainability, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). As past chair of ASCE’s Formal Engineering Education Committee she led initiatives to infuse engineering curricula with principles of sustainability and to promote strategies towards the attainment of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, emphasizing targets aimed at ensuring equity for people in traditionally marginalized populations. As past vice chair of ASCE’s Committee on Diversity and Inclusion she was part of the team that authored Canon 8 of ASCE’s Code of Ethics, providing specific leadership for the principle that requires engineers to consider the diversity of the communities they serve and to include diverse perspectives in planning and performing their work.  In 2019, she was appointed the inaugural chair of ASCE’s board-level advisory council, MOSAIC (Members of Society Advancing an Inclusive Culture), which is charged with leading the Society in all matters of DEI for the profession. Among her numerous awards and honors are ABET’s Claire L. Felbinger Award for Diversity and Inclusion, ASCE’s Professional Practice Ethics and Leadership Award, and the University of Texas Regents Award for Excellence in Teaching. She is a registered Professional Engineer, a Commissioner for the ABET Engineering Accreditation Commission (EAC), and host of Engineering Change Podcast.

Amy Pruden is the W. Thomas Rice Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Virginia Tech. Her research focuses on bringing a microbial ecological perspective to understanding and advancing design and management of environmental systems. Pruden is widely known for her research advancing understanding of antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) as environmental contaminants. Her research has been funded by The National Science Foundation, US Department of Agriculture, Water Research Foundation, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and focuses on advancing practical means of antibiotic resistance monitoring, mitigation, and risk assessment in wastewater, recycled water, and other water systems. Pruden is currently the Co-Principal Investigator with Peter Vikesland on a Partnership for International Research and Education (PIRE) grant with the goal of fostering interdisciplinary international collaboration towards identifying barriers to antibiotics and antibiotic resistance in wastewater, recycled water, and affected receiving environments, including surface water, groundwater, and distribution systems. She is also serving on two National Academy of Sciences Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) committees: the Environmental Health Matters Initiative and the One Health Action Collaborative.  Previously she served on the NASEM committee on management of Legionella in Water Systems and co-authored a consensus report.  She has authored over 150 peer-reviewed scientific journal articles and currently serves as an Associate Editor of Environmental Science & Technology. Pruden is the recipient of the Presidential Early Career Award in Science and Engineering, the Paul L. Busch Award for innovation in water research, and was recently named a fellow of the International Water Association.

Holden Thorp became Editor-in-Chief of the Science family of journals on 28 October 2019. He came to Science from Washington University, where he was provost from 2013 to 2019 and where he is Rita Levi-Montalcini Distinguished University Professor and holds appointments in both chemistry and medicine. Thorp joined Washington University after spending three decades at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), where he served as the 10th chancellor from 2008 through 2013. A North Carolina native, Thorp started at UNC as an undergraduate student and earned a bachelor of science degree in chemistry with highest honors in 1986. He earned a doctorate in chemistry in 1989 at the California Institute of Technology, working with Harry B. Gray on inorganic photochemistry. He completed postdoctoral work at Yale University with Gary W. Brudvig, working on model compounds and reactions for the manganese cluster in the photosynthetic reaction center. He holds an honorary doctor of laws degree from North Carolina Wesleyan College and is a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors.