Research Innovation Award

(In honor of Dr. Pankaj Parekh) 

The Research Innovation Award honors researchers and research teams who have made significant contributions to advancing the science of water through research sponsored by The Water Research Foundation. The award is in honor of Dr. Parekh, who dedicated his life to ensuring safe drinking water and protecting public health. 


  • Individual researchers or research teams may be considered.
  • Nominations may be made by Foundation staff, subscribers, research partners or members of the Board of Directors. Self-nominations will not be accepted.
  • Awardees will have made a significant contribution to the water community through their body of Foundation-supported research.
  • Awardees will have conducted Foundation-sponsored research that resulted in a key breakthrough related to water management, water treatment or delivery, wastewater treatment or collection, resource recovery, desalination, reuse, stormwater, utility management or customer communications, or other issue of importance to subscribers.
  • Additional consideration will be given to researchers who have:
    • advanced research excellence through collaboration and/or interdisciplinary cooperation
    • effectively integrated research and application
    • guided sustainable development or environmental stewardship
    • incorporated resources with practical application that offer added value to utilities

2023 Awardee

Dr. Amy Pruden

Amy Pruden, PhD, is a W. Thomas Rice Professor and University Distinguished Professor in the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering at Virginia Tech. Dr. Pruden has dedicated her career to using next-generation DNA sequencing-based tools to ensure that multiple barriers are effective for the removal of pathogens and antibiotic resistance genes, revolutionizing how the water sector addresses complex microbiological challenges. She has advanced pathogen research from conceptual to practical while actively engaging underserved communities. Dr. Pruden has led five WRF research projects as Principal Investigator, and has served on Project Advisory Committees for seven WRF projects.

Being recognized with the Research Innovation Award is an honor that I could have never imagined when I first embarked into the water profession. It serves as a reminder to me of just how much remains to be done to secure a safe and ample water supply for future generations, but also as a source of encouragement to myself, and I hope to others, to continue doing the work that needs to be done to advance and implement effective solutions to meet this imperative."

Amy Pruden. PhD
Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering
Virginia Tech

Past Recipients

  • 2022
    Dr. Jack Kiefer

    Senior Associate, Hazen and Sawyer

    Dr. Kiefer has dedicated his career to exploring factors that impact water use and water demand in the urban sector, including climate change, economic recessions, and specific customer categories. He has served as a key researcher on nine WRF research projects since 1999, including two of WRF’s most popular projects ever: Residential End Uses of Water, Versions 1 and 2. Through his research, he has clearly demonstrated research innovation, and most importantly, knowledge that can be applied by utilities to improve future planning and resilience.

  • 2020
    Dr. David Cornwell

    President, Cornwell Engineering Group

    Dr. Cornwell has served as a Principal Investigator on over 25 WRF research projects, focused on topics including filtration, residuals management, coagulant optimization, and more. More recently, he has led several projects on lead and copper control. Dr. Cornwell’s impressive body of work provides valuable insight and knowledge that can be applied by utilities to protect public health.

  • 2019
    Dr. Karl Linden

    University of Colorado Boulder

    Dr. Linden has served as a Principal Investigator on WRF research projects for over 20 years, including several significant ultraviolet (UV) disinfection-related projects. Most recently, he led a team that developed action spectra correction factors for UV inactivation of Cryptosporidium and other pathogens. He has also served as a Project Advisory Committee member on diverse project topics. He has demonstrated research innovation and knowledge that can be applied by utilities and other end-users to protect public health.

  • 2018

    George Di Giovanni

    Metropolitan Water District of Southern California

  • 2017

    Stuart Krasner

    Metropolitan Water District of Southern California

  • 2016

    Bob Raucher

    Abt Associates

  • 2015

    Shane Snyder

    University of Arizona

  • 2014

    Issam N. Najm

    Water Quality & Treatment Solutions, Inc

  • 2013

    Mark LeChevallier

    American Water

  • 2012

    Jennifer Clancy

    Corona Environmental Consulting