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Executive Staff

Dr. Christopher Gobler, Director

Mr. Frank M. Russo, P.E., Associate Director for Wastewater Initiatives

Dr. Arjun Venkatesan, Associate Director for Drinking Water Initiatives

Ms. Hilary Brooks, Center Administrator

Research Team

Dr. Stuart Waugh, Research Scientist

Dr. Cheng-Shiuan Lee, Senior Research Support Specialist

Ms. Caitlin Asato, Research Support Specialist

Ms. Hannah Winslow, Research Technician II


Dr. Bruce Brownawell

Dr. Jackie Collier

Dr. Ben Hsiao

Dr. Xinwei Mao

Dr. Carrie McDonough

Dr. Alex Orlov

Dr. Roy Price

Dr. Nils Volkenborn

Dr. Laura Wehrmann

Dr. Yubin Zeng

Dr. Qingzhi Zhu

Graduate / Undergraduate Student Assistants

Ms. Patricia Clyde, PhD student:  Removal Mechanisms and Fates of Organic Wastewater Compounds

Ms. Molly Graffam, PhD student: Biogeochemical Dynamics Impacting the Performance of NRBs and PRBs

Ms. Kylie Langlois, PhD student: Marine Biology and Biological Oceanography

Mr. Jing-An Lin, PhD student

Mr. Kaushik Londhe, PhD student:  Treatment of Contaminants of Emerging Concern in Drinking Water

Ms. Sarah Lotfikatouli, PhD student:  Membrane BioReactor for Nitrogen Removal from Onsite Wastewater through Simultaneous Nitrification Denitrification  and Autotrophic Denitrification

Ms. Zahra Maleki Shahraki, PhD student:  N itrification/nitritation process in onsite nutrient removal bio-filters (NRBs) and nitrogen removal enhancement by autotrophic denitrification

Ms. Samantha Roberts, PhD student: The Potential for Vertical Flow Constructed Wetlands in the Treatment of Wastewater

Ms. Rachel Smolinksi, PhD student

Ms. Yuyin Tang, PhD student: Development of a biological activated filter to enhance 1,4-dioxane and natural organic matters removal from contaminated groundwater

Graduate and Undergraduate students may be hired as Research/Student Assistants to work in learning capacities and assist the research team. For further information on working for the Center for Clean Water Technology contact


Dr. Christopher Gobler is a Professor within the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (SoMAS) at Stony Brook University.  He received his M.S. and Ph.D. from Stony Brook University in the 1990s.  He began his academic career at Long Island University (LIU) in 1999.  In 2005, he joined Stony Brook University as the Director of Academic Programs for SoMAS on the Stony Brook – Southampton campus.  In 2014, he was appointed as the Associate Dean of Research at SoMAS and in 2015, he was named co-Director for the Center for Clean Water Technology (CCWT).  The major research focus within his group is investigating how anthropogenic activities such as climate change, eutrophication, and the over-harvesting of fisheries alters the natural biogeochemical and/or ecological functioning of coastal ecosystems.   Within this realm, major research efforts include the study of harmful algal blooms (HABs) caused by multiple classes of phytoplankton in diverse ecosystems as well as the effects of coastal ocean acidification on marine life.

Dr. Gobler was born on, and has spent his entire life on, Long Island.  He grew up enjoying swimming on Long Island’s ocean beaches, fishing on the East End, and sailing on the Long Island Sound.  His pursuit of his graduate studies in marine science was motivated by the progressive declines in Long Island’s shellfisheries during the 1980s. During the past twenty years, his research has identified the key role excessive nitrogen loading has played in the degradation of Long Island’s fisheries and water quality.  With the establishment of the CCWT, Dr. Gobler sees the promise of discovering the solutions to Long Island’s nitrogen problems as well as the creation of an industry that can create jobs for Long Islanders.

Mr. Frank M. Russo, P.E. serves as the Center's Associate Director for Wastewater Initiatives and is responsible for the oversight of construction and planning of the Center's pilot NRB installations across Suffolk County. Frank has over 40 years of experience in the design and construction of wastewater treatment, conveyance and collection systems. He retired from H2M architects + engineers as Senior Vice President and Director of Wastewater Engineering where he managed a staff of 17 wastewater professionals.  Frank was with H2M for 26 years where he started and grew the wastewater engineering division for the firm.  Frank is a licensed professional engineer in four states and has been a licensed New York State Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator for over 40 years. Frank is an active member of the New York Water Environment Association and recently resigned his post from the board of directors for the local chapter of the association. He holds a B.E.T. from Rochester Institute of Technology in Civil Engineering.

Dr. Arjun Venkatesan serves as the Associate Director for Drinking Water Initiatives  leading a pilot program to test and evaluate advanced/alternative water treatment technologies to remove contaminants of emerging concern in drinking waters. Dr. Venkatesan is also an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Civil Engineering. Prior to joining the Center, Dr. Venkatesan served as an Associate Research Scientist at the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment at Arizona State University (ASU). Dr. Venkatesan earned his Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering from ASU (2013) where his research focused on the identification of emerging contaminants and the role of human society and the built environment in the redistribution of these potentially harmful substances in the environment. Dr. Venkatesan also holds a Master's in Environmental Engineering from University of Nevada, Las Vegas (2009), and a Bachelor's in Chemical Engineering from Anna University in Chennai, India (2007). Dr. Venkatesan implements his knowledge and enthusiasm in conducting research to develop new interventions and technologies that will improve water quality. Some of his current research interests include: formation of disinfection by-products during water and wastewater treatment, novel wastewater-based epidemiology for public health monitoring, characterization of organic phosphorus in natural waters and wastewaters, and occurrence and characterization of engineered nanomaterials in the environment.  

Ms. Hilary Brooks  serves as the Center's Administrator, responsible for grants management of all Center funding and providing principal administrative support to the Center team. She works collaboratively with numerous campus departments as well as outside partners and stakeholders to ensure the success of the Center's mission. Hilary comes to us with extensive experience in the administrative policies and procedures of Stony Brook University, having previously worked in finance, campus safety, student affairs, and academics. The opportunity to continue to support Stony Brook's mission has kept Hilary with the campus after earning a B.S. from SUNY Empire and an M.A. in Higher Education Administration from Stony Brook University. 

Dr.   Stuart Waugh is a Senior Postdoctoral Associate at the CCWT. He received his M.S. (2008) and Ph.D. (2015) degrees in marine chemistry from the School for Marine & Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University. His dissertation entitled “Net N2 fluxes in muddy sediments of Great Peconic Bay: rates, pathways and controls” investigated the sedimentary production of NH4+ and its loss from the sediments as N2 gas as well as the natural and anthropogenic controls on these processes.  At CCWT, Stuart’s research is directed at understanding how septic systems transform fixed nitrogen (NH4+, organic N) into reactive forms (NO3-, NO2- and N2O) and inert gas (N2) and the efficiency with which alternate systems accomplish these processes.

Dr. Cheng-Shiuan Lee is a Senior Research Support Specialist with the CCWT. Dr. Lee holds a Ph.D. in Chemical and Biological Oceanography from Stony Brook University (2017) and a M.S. in Chemical Oceanography from the Institute of Oceanography, National Taiwan University (2008). Prior to joining the CCWT, Dr. Lee was a postdoctoral researcher in the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (SoMAS) at Stony Brook University. His Ph.D. and postdoctoral research focused on methylmercury bioaccumulation, transformation, and trophic transfer in marine food webs, ranging from bacterioplankton to apex pelagic fish. Dr. Lee’s research interests include: the biogeochemistry of trace elements in natural waters, interactions of contaminants (trace elements and organic compounds) with aquatic biota and their biogeochemical implications and fates in diverse aquatic environments, distribution and speciation of trace elements and organic compounds in diverse aquatic environments, and developing analytical techniques for determining trace elements and organic compounds in natural water samples.

Ms. Caitlin Asato is a Research  Support Specialist with the CCWT. Before coming to Stony Brook, she was a research scientist/engineer at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology where she worked to develop and test a portable prototype system for anaerobic digestion of solid organic wastes. Caitlin holds a B.S. (2013) and a M.S. (2014) in biological systems engineering from the University of California, Davis and is interested in biological waste and wastewater treatment.

Ms. Hannah Winslow is a Research Technician II with the CCWT. Prior to joing the Center she worked as a Field Biologist, Education, & Volunteer Coordinator at the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society. Hannah holds a B.A. in Environmental Studies (2016) from Stony Brook University.