Current Researchers and Students


Amanda Karam (PhD student) – Photosynthetic Bioreactors

From: Raleigh, NC

BS Env. Science, UNC Chapel Hill

MS Env. Engineering, NC State University


Yi-Chun Lai (PhD student) – Microalgae Harvesting

From: Taoyuan, China

BS Env. Science, National Tsing Hua University

Fun fact: I was on my college badminton team in undergrad.





Savanna Smith (PhD student) – Microbial Community Assembly of Anaerobic Systems

From: Kealakekua, HI and Rockport, TX

BS Civil Engineering, Univ. of Texas at Austin

Fun fact: My family used to have a herd of woollies sheep to keep the pasture vegetation in control.






Jenny Ding (PhD student, Main Adviser: Dr. Doug Call) – Volatile Fatty Acids from Anaerobic Degradation

From: Chengdu, China

BS Env. Engineering, Jiangnan University

MS Env. Engineering, University of Arizona

Fun fact: I have synesthesia so I see colors and textures for numbers and words.



Sivaranjani Palani (PhD student) – Thermodynamic Modeling of Anaerobic Systems

From: Chennai, India

BE Civil Engineering, Anna University

MCE Environmental Engineering, University of Delaware

Fun fact: I am a painting artist and I have been collecting unique keychains for the past 10 years.






Emma Guertin (MS student) – Anaerobic Food Waste Degradation

From: Hubbardston, MA

BS Civil Engineering, University of Massachussetts, Amherst

Fun fact: I love to run, hike, and recently started Krav Maga lessons.





Seraphim Falterman (MS student) – Thermal Hydrolysis and Anaerobic Co-Digestion

From: Richmond, VA

BS Integrated Science and Technology, James Madison University

Fun fact: I love to ride my bike and used to love taking long trips.





Monica Matekenye (MS student) – Biomass Conversion in Malawi

From: Lilongwe, Malawi

BS Civil Engineering, University of Malawi

Fun fact: I speak three languages yet I can’t speak my tribal language.





Alvin Mutongi (UG student) – Techno-Economic Analysis of Anaerobic Co-Digestion

From: Charlotte, NC

BS Civil Engineering (Junior) NC State University








Abel Getachew (HS Researcher, NC School of Science and Mathematics) – Greywater Treatment


Walt Beckham (Research Technician) – Hygienic and Effective Pit Emptying


Jocelyn Tsai (MS) Project Coordinator, Hygienic and Pit Emptying, Global WaSH Cluster Support

From: St. Louis, MO

BA Biology, Washington University in St. Louis

MEM Water Resources Management, Duke University

Fun fact: I play very large drums.



Recent graduates:

Amanda Mattingly (MS Env. Engineering) – Efficacy of Bioaugmentation of Full-Scale Aerated Stabilization Lagoons

Currently, Research Engineer at NCASI

From: Boston, MA

BS Environmental Engineering, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute)

Fun fact: I used to be really into swing dancing.


Anthony Young (MS Environmental Engineering) – Tertiary Partial Denitrification-Annamox (PdNA) Filters for Sustainable Nitrogen Removal

Currently, Engineer at Hazen and Sawyer

From: Raleigh, NC

BS Environmental Engineering, NC State University

Fun fact: I used to be a cheerleader at NC State.



Postdocs and Visiting Professors

Ling Wang (Postdoc, University of Chicago) – Microbial community analysis

Xia He (Prof., Guilin Univ., China) – Processes in Sewer Systems

Nathan Alcantara (MS, visiting student) – Microbial communities in pitcher plants

Abdul Haq (MS, visiting student) – Microbial communities in anaerobic digestion of Jatropha

Peihong Shen (Prof., Guanxi Univ., China) – Startup of Anaerobic Reactors

Pascal Saikaly (currently Asst. Professor, King Abdullah Univ. of Science and Technology)

Kristin Hicks (currently with Central Carolina Colleges)

Shaohui Zhang (currently Assoc. Professor, Wuhan University of Technology)

PhD students

In Chio Lou (Ph.D. 2006, currently Assistant Professor, University of Macau) – Analysis of the Factors in the Competition between Filaments and Floc-formers in Activated Sludge

Cesar Mota (Ph.D. 2006, currently Professor Adjunto, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais) – Microbial Ecology of Intermittently Aerated Reactors Treating Swine Wastewater: Molecular Approaches for Identifying Key Nitrogen-Removing Bacteria

Bryan Staley (Ph.D. 2009, currently President of Environmental Research and Education Foundation) – Evaluation of Factors Affecting the Initiation of Methanogenesis in Solid Waste

Xia He (Ph.D. 2012, currently Assistant Professor, Guilin University, China) –Fats, Oils, and Grease (FOG) Deposit Formation: Characterization of Grease Interceptors and Elucidation of Formation Mechanisms

Ling Wang (Ph.D. 2018, currently Postdoc, University of Chicago) – Influencing the anaerobic microbiome through substrate selection and overloading stresses to achieve high-performance co-digestion of grease interceptor waste

Joe Weaver (Ph.D. 2021, currently NSF Postdoc Fellow, Newcastle University, UK) – From Floc to Reactor Scales: A Multi-Faceted Investigation Integrating Microbial Ecological Experiments and Computational Modeling to Understand Aerobic Wastewater Systems

MS Students

Julia E. Keith (Dec. 2002) – Molecular Characterization of Microbial Populations in Full-Scale Activated Sludge Plants and Bioaugmentation Sites

Jiangying Liao (May 2003) –Quantifying Activated Sludge Bulking-Causing Filaments using Molecular Methods

Jon C. Williams (Dec. 2004) – Initial Investigations of Aerobic Granulation in an Annular Gap Bioreactor

Gamze Gulez (May 2005) – Effects of Carbon and Inoculum Sources on the Growth of Filamentous Bacteria in Activated Sludge

Matthew B. Skidmore (Dec. 2005) – Predicting and Improving the Dewaterability of Waste Activated Sludge Through Moisture Distribution Analysis

Vivi L. Nguyen (Aug. 2007) – Quantifying In Situ Growth Rates of Filaments and Floc-formers using Real-time PCR

Lauren Wellborn (May 2009) – Assessment of Water and Sanitation in Philippine Villages

Mariann Z. Vazques-Pineiro (Aug. 2010) – Performance of an Onsite Wastewater Treatment System and Analysis of the Microbial Populations in the Wastewater

Rossana Prevost  (Dec. 2010) – Aerosolization and Quantification of Surrogate Biological Warfare Agents under Simulated Landfill Conditions

Bahareh Karami (May 2012) – Effect of Shear Variability on Formation of Aerobic Granules

Ling Wang (July 2012) – Anaerobic Co-Digestion of Thickened Waste Activated Sludge with Grease Interceptor Waste

Kara N. Kopf (December 2012) – Quantification of Denitrification nosZ Genes in Activated Sludge

F. Jim Hurley (January 2013) –  Effects of Kenaf on Activated Sludge Performance and Microbiology

M. Jason Ho (January 2013) – Linking Community Structure and Function Using Novel Sequential mRNA Fluorescence Hybridization and Flow Cytometry

Jory Wahlen (May 2013) – Using Molecular Microbial Data for Microbial Risk Assessment of Graywater Reuse

Elvin Hossein (August 2013) – Resilience of Bioreactors for Anaerobic Energy Production

Dominic Libera (December 2013) – Simulation of Vomiting as a Mechanism for Spread of Norovirus

Amanda Karam (December 2016) – Development of Microspheres for Assessing Light Exposure in PSBRs

Jacqueline Yeh (May 2018) – Effect of varying hydrodynamic shear and extracellular polymeric substances on aerobic granulation

Giovanna Portiolli (August 2019) – Collection of Fecal Sludge and Anaerobic Treatment of Household Wastes

Eric Polli (August 2019) – Mainstream Deammonification of Municipal Wastewater

Anthony Young (May 2021) -Tertiary Partial Denitrification-Anammox (PdNA) Filters for Sustainable Nitrogen Removal: Pilot Scale Filter Results

Amanda Mattingly (June 2021) – The Efficacy of Continuous Bioaugmentation in Full-Scale Pulp and Paper Industry Aerated Stabilization Basins

MCE/MENE Reports Directed

Walt Fletcher (Dec. 2002) – Modeling the Competition between Filaments and Floc Formers in Activated Sludge

JuChun Hsieh (Dec. 2005) – Floc Development in Couette Bioreactors

Laurissa Hoyle (May 2006) – Investigating Steam Application for Reducing Foaming in Activated Sludge Systems

Hyunsuk Hong (May 2009) – Aerobic Granulation using Couette-Taylor Bioreactors for Simultaneous Organic Carbon and Nitrogen Removal

Tracey Sisco (May 2015) – Testing Pit Emptying Mixers

Aditi Murthy (May 2015) – Microbiological Analysis of Full-Scale WWTP Startup

Qian Wang (post MS) – Aerobic Granulation

Catherine MacMillan (May 2016) – Photosynthetic Bioreactors

Brita Mjos (May 2017) – Fertilizer from Urine

Eunyoung Lee (Dec. 2017) – Anaerobic Degradation of Food Waste

Samiron Dutta (August 2019) – Modeling of Anammox Filters

Pradnya Latkar (December 2020)  – Fuzzy set QCA of Community Toilet Blocks in Mumbai, India

Undergraduates (last 5 years)

Zach Bennett (BS ENE, Fall 2020 -)
Project: WWTP COVID19 Surveillance Sample Collection

Laura Gomez (BS BE, Fall 2020)
Project: WWTP COVID19 Surveillance Sample Collection

Daniel Cockson (BS IE, Fall 2020 – )
Project: WWTP COVID19 Surveillance Sample Collection

Jeremy Lowe (BS ENE, Fall 2020 – )
Project: WWTP COVID19 Surveillance Sample Collection

Victoria Ponthier (BS ENE, Fall 2020 – )
Project: WWTP COVID19 Surveillance Sample Collection

Emma Bolden (BS ENE, Fall 2020)
Project: WWTP COVID19 Surveillance Sample Collection

Alvin Mutongi (BS Civil Engineering, Summer 2020)
Project: RISE – Techno-economic analysis of anaerobic co-digestion of FOG wastes

Robert Mones (HS Senior, NC School of Science and Math, Summer 2019 – Fall 2019)
Project: Drone for Water Quality Sampling

Annelise Gummere (B.S. Environmental Eng., Summer-Fall 2019)
Project: Filaments in activated sludge

Yashira Valentin Feliciano (Summer 2019, RISE Program)
Project: DNA analysis of Malawi pit samples

*Haley Zamorano (B.S. Environmental Eng., Spring-Fall 2019 – )
Project: Design of composting toilet

Sydney Allen (B.S. Environmental Eng., Fall 2018- Summer 2019)
Project: Support for anaerobic experiments

Luke Solari (B.S. Civil Engineering, Fall 2018- Summer 2019)
Project: Hydrodynamic cavitation for dewatering sludge

Hannah Cruz (HS Student, NC School of Science and Mathematics, Summer 2018-Fall 2018)
Project: Modeling transport of fecal sludge

Maggie Thompson (B.S. Civil Engineering, Summer 2018)
Project: Hydrodynamic cavitation for fecal sludge

Maddy Hanton (B.S. Environmental Eng., Michigan State Univ., Summer 2018, RISE Program)
Project: DNA extraction from PPE and activated sludge

Sandra Un-Jan (B.S. Environmental Eng., Florida Gulf Coast Univ., Summer 2018, RISE Program)
Project: Anaerobic respirometry of various waste feedstocks

Maren Deal (B.S. Environmental Engineering, Spring 2018-Summer 2018)
Project: Support of mainstream deammonification project at Neuse River WRF

Samantha Pace (B. S. Industrial Design, Spring 2018- 2018

Elizabeth Wallner (B.S. Environmental Engineering, Spring 2018- 2019

Syond Chand (B.S. Environmental Engineering, Spring 2018)

Lauren Tuttle (B.S. Environmental Engineering, Fall 2016- 2017)

Adrianna Dacres (B.S. Environmental Science, Claflin Univ, Summer 2017, RISE Program) Project: DNA extraction from textiles

Austin Burke (B.S. Environmental Engineering, Spring 2017- Fall 2017 ) Project: Support for Granulation Experiment

Naile Segule (B.S. Biomedical Engineering, Park Scholar, Fall 2016- Spring 2017) Project: DNA extraction from textiles

Sophia Holmes (HS Student, NCSSM, Summer 2016-Feb. 2017) Project: Effect of bioaugmentation on anaerobic lipid degradation

Garrett Early (B.S. Physics, Summer 2016 – Fall 2016) Project: CFD of low-flush toilets

Jiawen Liu (B.S. ENE, Summer 2016- Summer 2017) Project: Microsphere experiments for assessing light in PSBRs; Modeling of pit emptying in Malawi

Jing Wu (B. S. ENE, Summer 2016- Spring 2017) Project: Operation of Algal Photobioreactors

Mathew Jacob (HS Student, RTHS, Summer 2016) Project: Effect of bicarbonate on algal growth media

Shannon Hurtado-Reyes (B. S. Environmental Engineering, Belmont College, SC, Summer 2016, under RISE Program) Project: Set up of anaerobic respirometer

*Sierra Schupp (B. S. ENE, Spring 2016- Fall 2016) Project: Operation of anaerobic reactors

*Jackie Yeh (B. S. ENE, Spring 2015 –Spring 2016) Project: Optimizing start-up of anaerobic reactors

Risa Sayre (B.S. Env. Science, Fall 2014-Summer 2016) Project: Treatment of Ascaris eggs in onsite sanitation systems

*Andrew Norris (B.S. CE, Fall 2015) Project: Aerobic and anaerobic reactors

*Melissa Hyland (B.S. CE, Fall 2015- Spring 2016) Project: Aerobic granulation reactors

Andrew Klappenbach (HS student, Research Triangle HS, Summer 2015) Project: Growth kinetics of Dunaliella sp.

Yash Sedani (HS Student, Enloe High School, Summer 2015) Project: DNA extraction from clothing

Dyon Vega (B.S. ENE, Fall 2014- Spring 2015) Project: Fate and transport of Ebola virus in human waste

Mackenzie Blum (B.S. ENE, Fall 2014- Spring 2015) Project: Quantitative microbial risk assessment of onsite sanitation systems

Shreyan Sen (PBS, Fall 2014- Spring 2015) Project: Microbial analysis of Illumina sequencing results for pit latrines