Water Technology and Policy

Water is our most critical natural resource—yet the earth’s water is under multiple complex threats. With an increasing demand for safe, clean water, and a growing need for sustainable policies and practices, the world’s water is a crucial topic.

The experts in WPI’s Water Resource Center are in an ideal position to tackle increasing water challenges. Our interdisciplinary team brings together faculty and students from science, engineering, environmental studies, business, and policy studies to explore and solve problems in water contamination and sustainability.

Our researchers study water from source to point of use as they develop improved methods of detecting hazardous contaminants, assessing their risks, removing them, and degrading them using advanced oxidation techniques. In addition to conducting laboratory studies, researchers use state-of-the-art computational chemistry techniques to understand molecular interactions and predict and modify absorbent structures. They’ve turned these explorations into solutions, such as cost-effective and sustainable molecular sieve zeolite filter technology and alternative disinfection strategies.

At the same time, we’re conducting complementary research into the social and environmental factors that prevent water contamination and improve sustainability. Current efforts include projects exploring water quality and management in developing countries, utilizing zeolites for risk remediation, and spearheading water sustainability initiatives on campus, in local cities and towns, and abroad.

Our students can also take advantage of this interdisciplinary nature. Many undergrads begin with the Great Problems Seminar on water, which delves into subjects such as water pollution, ecosystem services, and the use of change management. They hone their knowledge through coursework on water treatment, molecular modeling, environmental policy, and sustainability.

Graduate students partner with faculty to research trending topics using advanced techniques and equipment. Working on funded projects involving molecular simulation, liquid-phase oxidation, hydrophobic molecular sieves, and more, students have found success in developing marketable technologies to improve water.

For more information, send a note to water-resources@wpi.edu.


The Water Resource Center at WPI is made up of a wide range of experts who take an interdisciplinary approach to serving the needs of the state, nation, and globe.


  • John Bergendahl (Civil & Environmental Engineering): drinking water treatment, municipal and industrial wastewater treatment
  • Terri Camesano (Chemical Engineering):  Water bacteriology, environmental engineering
  • Abigail Charest (Civil and Environmental Engineering, PhD candidate):  Water resources management planning
  • Aaron Deskins (Chemical Engineering): computational chemistry applied to organics adsorption and oxidation reactions
  • Nikolaos Kazantzis (Chemical Engineering): techno-economic performance assessment of environmental and energy technology systems, risk analysis, process safety
  • Paul Mathisen (Civil & Environmental Engineering): contaminant transport modeling, water resources management, stormwater management
  • Jeanine Plummer (Civil & Environmental Engineering): source water protection, drinking water treatment
  • Aaron Sakulich (Civil and Environmental Engineering):  Sustainable materials, appropriate technology
  • Nima Rahbar (Civil and Environmental Engineering):  Sustainable and bio-inspired materials
  • Robert Thompson (Chemical Engineering): zeolite crystallization, organics removal from water


  • Drew Brodeur (Chemistry & Biochemistry): Detection and removal of Triclosan
  • Shawn Burdette (Chemistry & Biochemistry):  Detection of metal pollutants/sensor development
  • Luca Capogna (Mathematical Sciences):  Mathematical modeling  
  • Marion Emmert (Chemistry & Biochemistry):  Water free chemical processes, sustainable, toxic-free chemistry
  • Germano Iannacchione (Physics):  New sensor technology for pollutants
  • Chris Lambert (Chemistry & Biochemistry):  Cold flame technology, remediation of unsaturated hydrocarbons
  • Reeta Prusty Rao (Biology & Biotechnology):  Identification of microbial contaminants
  • Burt S. Tilley (Mathematical Sciences): Mathematical modeling, computational modeling
  • Vadim Yakovlev (Mathematical Sciences):  Multiphysics modeling


  • Laureen Elgert (Social Science & Policy Studies):  Environment and development, sustainable development, politics and environment
  • Isa Bar-On (Mechanical Engineering):  Policy level systems modeling, health care
  • Corey Denenberg Dehner (Interdisciplinary & Global Studies Division):  Storm water, drinking water, environmental justice and dam removal policies
  • Scott Jiusto (Interdisciplinary & Global Studies Division):  Sustainability, water sanitation and management
  • Robert Krueger (Social Science & Policy Studies):  Urban sustainability, comparative policy analysis and environmental justice
  • Christopher Scarpino (Mechanical Engineering):  Policy
  • Khalid Saeed (Social Science & Policy Studies):  Policy system dynamics
  • Andrew Trapp (School of Business):  Biomedicine and Health Care, sustainability and environment