Our team

Carol Miller

Dr. Carol Miller, Director

Professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering at Wayne State University. Water resources research in sustainable and green energy technologies, hydraulic modeling, and water supplies.
Direct Link to CV
Link to Hydraulics Laboratory

Lab Directors

Jeffrey Ram

Dr. Jeffrey Ram, Belle Isle Aquarium Lab Director

Professor in Physiology at Wayne State University School of Medicine. Research and development of new technologies for detecting invasive and pathogenic organisms in urban water resources, and investigation of invasive species physiology. Teaching at Belle Isle Aquarium includes K-12 field trips and undergraduate internships.
Direct Link to CV
Link to Ram Lab Website

Adrian Vasquez

Dr. Adrian VasquezLake St. Clair Metropark and Great Lakes Water Authority Water Works Park Lab Director

Post-Doctoral Fellow with Health Urban Waters. Investigation of state of biodiversity and ascertain the impact of pests that carry human pathogens.



Barbara Aylesworth, Project Coordinator

Coordinator of multiple projects that include communication, grant development, serious game development for education on water issues. Focused on outreach and collaborative engagement.


Natalie Lyon, Research Assistant and Greenhouse Manager

Social scientist and urban planner who manages projects relating to urban ecology, biodiversity, and green infrastructure planning for Healthy Urban Waters. Coordinates the Detroit Biodiversity Network, a program focused on training the next generation of student leaders in green stormwater infrastructure design, implementation, and management.

Jamie Steis Thorsby

Jamie Steis Thorsby, Program Coordinator

Coordinator of multifaceted projects that including topics related to green infrastructure, sewer infrastructure, and water quality analysis. Manager of educational programs and community outreach.


  John Barkach, Graduate Student


Kate Ekhator, Graduate Student

Kate is currently a PhD student in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Wayne State University. Her research interests are in ground water movement, stormwater control and treatment measures using
green infrastructure, contaminant transport and phytoscreening studies. She was recently admitted into the Transformative Research in Urban Sustainability Training (T-RUST) program.

  Amir Kamjou, Graduate Student

Brendan O'Leary, Graduate Student


Jasmine Saad, Undergraduate Student

Jasmine is a senior in Electrical Engineering working with Dr. Carol Miller on her LEEM project as a ROEU awardee. She has an eye and heart for sustainable engineering practices and is ecstatic to contribute to a project she believe in.

Sadaf Teimoori, Graduate Student

Sadaf Teimoori joined Civil and Environmental Engineering at Wayne State University as a Graduate Research Assistant and started her Ph.D. degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering since 2017. In the Healthy Urban Waters team, she is currently working with groundwater quantity and quality data, modeling and analysis of groundwater, specifically in the Detroit region, and contaminant transferring in saturated and unsaturated zones. Her research interests include hydrological data analytics, modeling and analysis of groundwater quantity and quality, green stormwater infrastructure (GSI), and application of machine learning in water resource management.


Team members

Yongli Zhang

Dr. Yongli Zhang

Assistant Professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering. Investigation of clean and sustainable water and energy resources, including research on bio-energy, water system management, wastewater treatment, and emerging contaminants. Web Site
Direct Link to CV
Link to Sustainable Water Environment-Energy Technologies (SWEET) Lab website

David Pitts

Dr. David Pitts

Associate Professor in Pharmaceutical Sciences at Wayne State University Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. Research in ecotoxicology, neurotoxicology, exposure effects on brain development, and emerging contaminants in urban water supplies and wastewater.

Donna Kashian

Dr. Donna Kashian

Associate Professor in Biological Sciences at Wayne State University. Multidisciplinary research addressing complex environmental issues through science, policy, engineering, sociology and business.
Direct Link to CV
Link to Kashian Aquatic Ecology Lab Website

Tracie Baker

Dr. Tracie Baker
Assistant Professor, Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. HUW Grant Award Project: Investigating occurrence and effects of endocrine disruption due to environmental contaminants in Detroit water bodies.

Link to Baker Water Lab

Mark Baskaran

Dr. Mark Baskaran
Professor in Geology at Wayne State University. Investigation of environmental geochemistry and problems associated with radioactive materials and nuclear waste management.
Direct Link to CV

Omer Bilhan

Dr. Omer Bilhan

Visiting Professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering at Wayne State University; Assistant Professor at Nevsehir HBV University, Turkey. Research in hydraulic design and modeling, sediment transport.

Direct Link to CV

Thomas E. Dowling

Dr. Thomas E. Dowling

Professor in Biological Sciences at Wayne State University. Research addressing management of threatened and endangered species, particularly freshwater fishes in both the Great Lakes region and American Southwest.
Direct Link to CV

Noah Hall

Noah D. Hall, J.D.

Professor of Law at Wayne State University Law School. Founder of the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center, his research addresses environmental and water law and policy, including international and Great Lakes water resource management. Currently serving as Special Assistant Attorney General for Michigan for the Flint water investigation
Direct Link to CV

Paul Kilgore

Dr. Paul E. Kilgore

Associate Professor in Pharmacy Practice at Wayne State University. Research on waterborne infectious diseases, exposure risk and public health interventions, particularly in the Great Lakes region.

Larry Lemke

Dr. Larry Lemke

Professor and Department Chair, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Central Michigan University. Research on modeling contaminant fate and transport, and characterizing spatial variability in natural environments.
Direct Link to CV

Rahul Mitra

Dr. Rahul Mitra

Assistant Professor, Department of Communication at Wayne State University. Research focuses on the communicative implications of organizing sustainably. Topics of study include natural resource management, sustainability work norms and practices, corporate social responsibility impacts, career communication, and organizing for social change.
Direct Link to CV

Shawn McElmurry

Dr. Shawn McElmurry

Associate Professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering at Wayne State University. Multidisciplinary research addressing transport and fate of pollutants, land use effects on water quality, water treatment and delivery effectiveness and sustainability.
Link to Environmental Chemistry Research Laboratory (ECRL)

Rayman Mohamed

Dr. Rayman Mohamed

Associate Professor in Urban Studies and Planning at Wayne State University. Interdisciplinary research investigating behavioral, economic, regulatory and environmental drivers for urban conservation, redevelopment and planning.

Shirley Papuga


Shirley Papuga

Associate Professor in Geology at Wayne State University. Interdisciplinary research focuses on the land‐atmosphere exchange of energy, water, and carbon.

Link to Papuga/Kurc Research Group

Daryl Pierson

Daryl M. Pierson

Sustainability Coordinator for Wayne State University. Administrator responsible for campus-wide environmental efficiency, stewardship, education and outreach.

Caisheng Wang

Dr. Caisheng Wang

Associate Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering at Wayne State University. Research and development of innovative technologies to solve environmental challenges related to power generation and distribution, energy storage, and renewable energy systems.
Direct Link to CV

Yang Wang

Dr. Yang Wang

Postdoctoral Fellow in Electrical and Computer Engineering at Wayne State University. Research in power system planning, environmental protection and emission reduction.
Direct Link to CV

Judy Westrick

Dr. Judy Westrick
Director, Lumigen Instrument Center. HUW Grant Award Project: A Pilot Study to Evaluate the Viability of Real-time Source Water Early Warning System for Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC).
Link to Lumigen Instrument Center Website

Yifan Zhang

Dr. Yifan Zhang

Assistant Professor in Nutrition and Food Science at Wayne State University. Research on the role of food, agriculture and environment in transmitting human pathogenic bacteria and antimicrobial resistance, particularly in relation to sustainable urban agriculture practices.
Direct Link to CV

Network partners

Our work is supported by a broad network of agencies, institutes, foundations, non-profits and other organizations, some of which are listed here:

  • National Science Foundation (NSF)
  • United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA)
  • Great Lakes Protection Fund (GLPF)
  • Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory (GLERL)
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
  • United States Geological Survey (USGS)
  • Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI)
  • United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)
  • United Engineering Foundation (UEF)
  • Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
  • United States Department of Energy (USDOE)
  • United States Department of Defense (USDOD)
  • United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
  • University Research Corridor (URC)
  • Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA)
  • Macomb County Planning and Economic Development
  • Erb Family Foundation
  • Michigan Sea Grant
  • Michigan Suburbs Alliance
  • Belle Isle Conservancy
  • Huron Clinton Metropolitan Authority (HCMA)
  • Huron to Erie Alliance for Research and Training (HEART)
  • Macomb Community College (MCC)
  • University of Dayton
  • Tucker, Young, Jackson, Tull, Incorporated