Get to Know Research Services and Innovation
Research Unit Leaders
Julie Minton is a Research Unit Leader at WRF and directs one of three research units at the Foundation. Julie has been at the Foundation for 11 years, and is currently the Project Director for a $4.5M grant from the California State Water Board, which includes five direct potable reuse projects to help California develop regulations, and 20 potable and non-potable reuse projects. Julie has a bachelor’s degree in biology from St. Mary’s College of Maryland.
Areas of Expertise: Reuse, Reuse-Agricultural, Reuse-Non-potable, Reuse-Potable, Desalination
Jeff Moeller, PE
Jeff Moeller serves as a Research Unit Leader at WRF and directs one of three research units at the Foundation. Jeff has over 25 years of experience leading research in the areas of wastewater treatment, stormwater, decentralized systems, and integrated water management. He has also served as the WRF Director of Water Technologies managing the LIFT program. Jeff has a BS in civil engineering from North Carolina State University and an MS in civil and environmental engineering from M.I.T.
Areas of Expertise: Stormwater, Wastewater Treatment, Integrated Planning & Water Management, Nutrients, Innovation
Kenan Ozekin, Ph.D.
Dr. Kenan Ozekin works as a Research Unit Leader at WRF and directs one of three research units at the Foundation. Dr. Ozekin has more than 25 years of experience in the areas of water quality and treatment, advanced water treatment processes, water disinfection, disinfection by-products, and wildfires. Dr. Ozekin has a BS in chemical engineering from Istanbul Technical University, an MS in chemical engineering, and a PhD in environmental engineering from the University of Colorado.
Areas of Expertise: Advanced Treatment, Climate Change, Disinfection and Disinfection Byproducts, Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances, and Wildfires
The Staff Expertise Matrix is a reference tool to help you gain a quick understanding of the topic areas handled by our Research and Innovation Program Managers. Scroll down to learn more about our staff and their credentials.
Learn more about our staff and their topic areas of expertise.
Research Program Managers
Since 2009, Jonathan Cuppett has served as a Research Program Manager at WRF. Jonathan manages WRF research projects related to lead and copper corrosion, financial management, rates and revenue, and affordability. Jonathan has a bachelor’s degree from Penn State University and a master’s degree in Environmental Science and Engineering from Virginia Tech.
Areas of Expertise: Lead & Copper, Corrosion, Affordability, Rates and Revenue, and Finance
Ashwin Dhanasekar serves as a Research Program Manager at WRF. He leads the Energy Efficiency and Optimization WRF Research Area, as well as research topics related to carbon management and biosolids. Ashwin has a BS in Chemical Engineering from Anna University, India, and an MS in Environmental Engineering from Colorado State University.
Areas of Expertise: Energy, Resource Recovery, Biosolids, Microplastics, Reuse
Stephanie Fevig, PE
Stephanie has been a Research Program Manager at WRF since 2018. She leads two Priority Research Areas: Nutrients Treatment: Intensification, Reliability, and Efficiency and Source Separated Organics Feedstock Pre-Treatment and Management Practices. She has a master’s degree in Environmental Engineering from Colorado School of Mines and a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from New Mexico State University.
Areas of Expertise: Wastewater Treatment, Nutrients, Anaerobic Digestion, Resource Recovery, Biosolids
Walter L. Graf, Jr.
Walter Graf directs Intelligent Water Systems and Asset Management research at WRF. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Virginia Tech Sustainable Water Infrastructure Management (SWIM) Center; is a member of the Advisory Board for IKT (Germany) on manholes; multiple IWA, WEF, and AWWA committees; and is a technical reviewer for organizations, including Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia (IPWEA) and EPA. Walter has a bachelor’s degree in Geology from the University of Tennessee, and an MBA in Finance from George Washington University.
Expertise: Asset Management, Intelligent Water Systems, Groundwater, Finance, Economics
H. Grace Jang, Ph.D.
Grace Jang has been a Research Program Manager at WRF since 2009. Dr. Jang is currently the lead on WRF’s Waterborne Pathogens in Distribution and Plumbing Systems Research Area. She received her BS degree in environmental engineering, her MS degrees in environmental engineering and biomedical engineering, and her PhD in environmental engineering from Arizona State University.
Areas of Expertise: Biofilms, Biofiltration, Microbes & Pathogens, Water Quality, Premise Plumbing
Lola Olabode, MPH, BCES
Lola Olabode serves as a Research Program Manager at WRF where she has worked since 2000. Lola directs the portfolio on constituents of emerging concern, microplastics in water, and receiving water linkages in water quality. Lola has a bachelor's degree in chemistry from Tougaloo College, a master's degree in public health from George Washington University, and is a board-certified environmental scientist by eminence.
Areas of Expertise: Public Health, Pathogens, Microplastics, Constituents of Emerging Concern, Nutrients
Mary Messec Smith
Mary Messec Smith has been a Research Program Manager at WRF since 2010, and currently directs the PFAS Research Area. Mary previously directed the Hexavalent Chromium and the Intelligent Water Networks Research Areas. Mary earned her MSc in Environmental Science & Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines.
Areas of Expertise: Distribution Systems, Water Quality, Security and Emergency Management, Intelligent Water Systems, Constituents of Emerging Concern
Erin Swanson serves as a Research Program Manager at WRF. Prior to her role with the Foundation, Erin worked for Tampa Bay Water focusing on areas of demand management and regional potable water conservation. Erin has a bachelor’s degree in Biology from Florida Southern College and a master’s degree from the University of South Florida in Global Sustainability concentrating on Water Sustainability.
Areas of Expertise: Climate Change, Water Demand & Forecasting, Water Use & Efficiency
Harry Zhang, Ph.D., PE
Harry Zhang serves as Research Program Manager on Integrated Water and Stormwater at WRF. Harry directs the Sustainable Integrated Water Management (SIWM) and Stormwater research portfolios. Harry has a PhD in civil and environmental engineering (water resources) and a minor in systems engineering from the University of Virginia.
Areas of Expertise: Stormwater & Flood Management, Integrated Water Management & Planning (including Groundwater), Watershed Management & Stream Restoration, Decentralized Systems, Climate Impacts on Water Quantity and Quality
Jian Zhang, Ph.D., PE
Jian Zhang has served as a Research Program Manager at WRF since 2002. He currently leads WRF’s ongoing Research Area focused on water infrastructure resilience. Jian has a bachelor's degree and a master’s degree in environmental engineering from Tongji University, China, and a PhD in environmental engineering from the University of Cincinnati.
Areas of Expertise: Asset Management, Condition Assessment, Pipes, Resilience, Risk Assessment
Innovation Program Managers
Fidan Karimova serves as an Innovation Program Manager at WRF, focused on addressing specific technology-related subscriber needs. She has extensive knowledge of the innovation field, having previously worked with entrepreneurs from around the world to move their ideas to the implementation phase. Fidan has a bachelor’s degree in International Business and a master’s degree in Environmental Management from the University of Maryland, and also received a certificate in Water Management from the Delft University of Technology.
Areas of Expertise: Energy Optimization, Innovation, Intelligent Water Systems, Nutrients, Utility Management
Erin Partlan, Ph.D.
Erin Partlan is an Innovation Program Manager at WRF, where she manages projects on all types of water reuse. She received her PhD from Clemson University in Environmental Engineering and Science, where she researched membrane filtration in conjunction with novel activated carbon to target micropollutant removal. Previously, she has worked in R&D at a membrane filtration start-up, and as a water technology analyst.
Areas of Expertise: Water Reuse, Membrane Filtration, Physicochemical Treatment, Commercialization, Data Solutions