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The Shell Center for Sustainability's mission is to foster an interdisciplinary program of research, outreach, and education to address actions that can be taken to ensure the sustainable development of communities' living standards, interpreted broadly, to encompass all factors affecting the overall quality of life.


Water Sustainability Conference:

Speakers and Moderators

Conference Planning Committee

 Return to Conference Program  

Program Header 

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Pedro Alvarez, Ph. D., P.E., DEE., F.ASCE. 
George R. Brown Professor of Engineering and Chair of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Rice University

Pamela Berger, Ph. D.
City of Houston

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Bryan W. Brooks, Ph. D.
Director Environmental Health Science Program 
Baylor University

Dr. Bryan W. Brooks is Associate Professor of Environmental Science and Biomedical Studies, Director of the Environmental Health Science Program, and a core scientist with the Center for Reservoir and Aquatic Systems Research at Baylor University, Waco, Texas. Dr. Brooks holds a Ph.D. in environmental science from the University of North Texas, and a M.S. and a B.S. in biological sciences from the University of Mississippi. His research interests are interdisciplinary, often integrating aspects of environmental toxicology and chemistry, applied aquatic ecology, and risk assessment. Dr. Brooks’ research program has often examined the environmental fate and hazards of stressors (e.g., pharmaceuticals, personal care products, endocrine active compounds, harmful algal toxins, nutrients, depressed dissolved oxygen) associated with rapidly urbanizing regions, particularly in effluent-dominated ecosystems and water reuse applications. He presently serves as academic representative from North America on the steering committee for the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry’s (SETAC) Pharmaceuticals Advisory Group. Dr. Brooks is serving as guest editor of a special issue of Environmental Toxicology of Chemistry entitled “Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products in the Environment,” which will appear in December 2009. He is Program Committee Co-Chair for the 30th Annual SETAC meeting in New Orleans, November 2009 (neworleans.setac.org).

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Miguel Flores
Acting Deputy Regional Administrator

Miguel I. Flores currently serves as Acting Deputy Regional Administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Region 6. Prior to this position, he served as the Director of the Water Quality Protection Division where he oversees state and tribal water quality and safe drinking water programs under the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act, respectively. He also oversees the water infrastructure program along the U.S.-Mexico border, including oversight of grants to the Border Environmental Cooperation Commission (BECC), the North American Development Bank, and the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds used by states and tribes for design and construction of water infrastructure projects.  He is responsible for projects to abate coastal Louisiana land loss under the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act.  He represents Region 6 on EPA’s Human Resources Council and serves as the Federal co-chair for the Texas-Coahuila-Nuevo Leon-Tamaulipas Regional Workgroup under EPA’s US-Mexico Border 2012 program. Mr. Flores received a B.S. from Texas Tech University, and a graduate degree from Southern Methodist University. He is a graduate of Harvard University Kennedy School of Government Senior Executive Fellows Program. Mr. Flores served in the U.S. armed forces and has taught mathematics at junior colleges in Texas.

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Robert Griffin, Ph.D.
Civil and Environmental Engineering
Rice University

Robert Griffin is associate professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Rice University.  His research focuses on the atmospheric chemistry and effects of organic species, particularly with respect to aerosols.  He is author/co-author of more than forty scientific manuscripts. Dr. Griffin received his B.S. summa cum laude in chemical engineering from Tufts University in 1993.  For two years prior to attending graduate school, Dr. Griffin was a Research Associate with Arthur D. Little, Inc., a management and technology consulting firm.  He received an M.S. in 1997 and a Ph.D. in 2000 (both in chemical engineering) from the California Institute of Technology.  Before arriving at Rice, Dr. Griffin was an assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Duke University and an assistant/associate professor in the Climate Change Research Center/Department of Earth Sciences at the University of New Hampshire.  He is a member of the American Association of Aerosol Research, the American Chemical Society, and the American Geophysical Union.  Awards include a National Science Foundation Career Award and a National Center for Atmospheric Research Advanced Studies Program Faculty Fellowship. 

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George Guillen, Ph. D.

Executive Director Environmental Institute of Houston
University of Houston Clear Lake

Dr. George Guillen received a B.S. in Marine Biology from Texas A & M University in Galveston in 1979.  He received a Masters Degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences in 1983 from TAMU, College Station.  In 1996, Dr. Guillen received a Ph.D. in Community Health Science from the University of Texas - School of Public Health in Houston, TX. From 1984 to 1998, he worked for various state conservation and environmental agencies including the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and Texas Commission on Environmental Quality managing and directing various environmental research, monitoring and enforcement programs. In 1998, Dr. Guillen became Toxicology and Risk Assessment Section Manager with the Minerals Management Service in New Orleans, Louisiana. During 2000 through 2004, he served as the Fisheries and Contaminants Program Leader for the US Fish and Wildlife Service in Arcata, California, where he managed the fisheries program and administered research in instream flows on the Klamath and Trinity Rivers. He currently serves as the Executive Director of the Environmental Institute of Houston, University of Houston, where he is Associate Professor in Biology and Environmental Science at the University of Houston Clear Lake. His current research and teaching interests include evaluation of the influence of fisheries, water and sediment quality and habitat loss on aquatic resources. 

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Peter Hartley, Ph. D.
George and Cynthia Mitchell Chair in Sustainability
Rice University

Peter Hartley was awarded the George and Cynthia Mitchell chair in Sustainability in 2007, when he was also appointed as Academic Director of the Shell Center for Sustainability. He completed an honors degree in mathematics in 1974, and a Masters Degree in Economics in 1977, at the Australian National University. He worked for the Priorities Review Staff and the Economic Division of the Prime Minister's Department in the Australian Government before coming to study at the University of Chicago, where he obtained a Ph.D. in Economics in 1980. From 1980 to 1986 he was an Assistant Professor of Economics at Princeton University. He moved to Rice University as an Associate Professor of Economics in August 1986 and was promoted to a Full Professor in 1993. He was chair of the Department of Economics at Rice from 2000 to 2005. Peter is also a Rice Scholar of the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy, where he works in the Energy Studies Program. Peter's research has covered a number of areas, but has recently focused on energy economics. He has also been involved in public policy debates and as an advisor to governments and private firms on energy and environmental issues.

Roxana Herrera
Program Coordinator 
Port of Houston Authority

Ms. Herrera has worked for the Port of Houston Authority in the Environmental Affairs Dept. since 2001.  She is the Program Coordinator of the Water and Permits Program and the environmental project manager for the Bayport Container and Cruise Terminal construction project. Other responsibilities include oversight of soil and groundwater remediation, Corps permitting and wetland mitigation, and NEPA related projects. Prior to joining the Port of Houston Authority, she was employed by the predecessor agencies of the TCEQ (Texas Water Commission and TNRCC) as a RCRA Field Investigator in the Houston Regional office.

Ms. Herrera has Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in Geology from the University of Houston and is a licensed Professional Geoscientist in the State of Texas.

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Vivian Ho, Ph. D.
James A. Baker III Institute Chair in Health Economics
Rice University
Vivian Ho is the James A. Baker III Institute Chair in Health Economics and a professor in the department of economics at Rice University.  She is also an associate professor in the department of medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. Ho's research examines the effects of economic incentives and regulations on the quality and costs of healthcare.  Her research is widely published in economics, medical, and health services research journals.  Ho's research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and the American Cancer Society. Ho has served on the Board of Scientific Counselors for the National Center for Health Statistics and on the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Health Services, Outcomes and Delivery study section. She is also a founding board member of the American Society for Health Economists. Ho received her A.B. in economics from Harvard University, a graduate diploma in economics from The Australian National University and a Ph.D. in economics from Stanford University.

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Jace A. Houston
Deputy General Manager
San Jacinto River Authority

Jace Houston currently serves as Deputy General Manager-Administration for the San Jacinto River Authority, a public agency created by the legislature in 1937 for the purpose of developing, conserving, and protecting the water resources of the San Jacinto River basin.  Mr. Houston oversees the administrative managers and functions of the river authority including legal, finance and accounting, information technology, risk management, and human resources, and he is also responsible for the authority's legislative and public relations programs. Prior to coming to the river authority, Jace served as General Counsel for the Harris-Galveston Subsidence District, which is charged with the responsibility of regulating groundwater withdrawals in Harris and Galveston counties in order to control subsidence.  Prior to this, Jace worked for State Representative Robert Saunders in the Texas House of Representatives, where he served as General Counsel for the Land and Resource Management Committee.  He has also served as a staff attorney and policy analyst at the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission. Mr. Houston received his law degree from the University of Texas School of Law, and holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin.

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Ken Kramer, Ph.D.
Director Lone Star Chapter
Houston Sierra Club
Ken Kramer is the Director of the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club, the state arm of the national environmental organization. He has been associated with the Club in different volunteer and professional capacities since 1978 and has been Lone Star Chapter Director since 1989.  He is an active participant in the joint Texas Living Waters Project, in which the Lone Star Chapter partners with the National Wildlife Federation and Environmental Defense Fund on water policy issues in Texas. Dr. Kramer has a B.A. in History with a minor in Government from Texas Lutheran University, an M.A. in Political Science from Stephen F. Austin State University, and a Ph.D. in Political Science from Rice University.  Prior to working for the Sierra Club, Dr. Kramer taught government and political science at El Paso Community College, Houston Community College, Angelo State University, and Texas A&M University. Dr. Kramer has served on numerous advisory committees to state and local agencies and officials, including those dealing with waste management, toxic air emissions, water quality, and other issues.  He currently serves on the state's Water Conservation Advisory Council and the Trinity & San Jacinto Rivers & Galveston Bay Stakeholder Committee.

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Michael S. Marcotte, P. E., D.WRE, BCEE.
Director - Department of Public Works and Engineering
City of Houston

Michael S. Marcotte, Director of the Department of Public Works and Engineering, assumed his duties in July 2004.  Mr. Marcotte has over 30 years of experience within the public and private sectors of the civil infrastructure industry.  Prior to assuming his present duties with the City of Houston, Mr. Marcotte was the chief engineer and deputy general manager of the District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority.  He previously served as director of the Dallas Economic Development Department, director of Dallas Water Utilities, acting director of the City of Houston Planning and Development Department, and chief of maintenance and chief engineer for Houston's Public Works Department, Water Division.  He was also a senior manager with the Houston consulting firm Turner, Collie and Braden, Inc.  Mr. Marcotte holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Environmental Science and Engineering and a Masters of  Environmental Science degree from Rice University.  He is a registered Professional Engineer in the States of Texas and Colorado, a Diplomate of the American Academy of Environmental Engineers and the American Academy of Water Resources Engineers and a Fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers.

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Mark Mikol
Drinking Water Specialist
Drinking Water Quality Team
Texas Commission on Environmental Quality

Mark Mikol is a Drinking Water Specialist at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). He received his bachelor's degree in Industrial and Enterprise Engineering from The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1991.  He began his career designing and implementing electronic information systems and recently returned to college to complete pre-medical biology and chemistry coursework.  In 2008, Mark began his employment with the TCEQ as a Compliance Officer for the Total Coliform Rule (TCR) Program.  This year Mark transferred from the TCR program and is currently working with the TCEQ Drinking Water Quality Team supporting state inorganic compliance programs. Mark has been chosen as a speaker for the TCEQ and AWWA and also owns and operates a private well at his residence in Austin, Texas.

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Paul Montagna, Ph. D.
Endowed Chair for Ecosystems Studies and Modeling
Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies
Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi

Dr. Paul Montagna is a marine ecosystem ecologist who focuses on benthic processes.  Dr. Montagna received a Ph.D. in biology from the University of South Carolina.  He was a professor at the University of Texas at Austin, Marine Science Institute from 1986 – 2006.  He was the creator and founding manager of the Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve in 2006.  In September 2006, he became the Endowed Chair for Ecosystem Studies and Modeling at the Harte Research Institute.  His expertise is in the areas of water and sediment quality, food webs, nutrient cycling, benthic community structure, statistics, experimental design, and ecological modeling.  His current research projects are focused on four themes: the role of freshwater inflow in maintaining estuary health, nutrient loading and hypoxia, oyster reef ecology and restoration, and ecoinformatics (creation and analysis of large environmental databases using cyberinfrastructure).

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John W. Nielsen-Gammon, Ph. D.
Department of Atmospheric Sciences
Texas A&M University
Texas State Climatologist

John Nielsen-Gammon holds a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  After a brief period as a researcher at the State University of New York at Albany, he joined the faculty at Texas A&M University in 1991.  He was appointed Texas State Climatologist by then-Governor George W. Bush in 2000.  He served as Acting Executive Associate Dean and Associate Dean for Research for the College of Geosciences at Texas A&M from September 2008 to March 2009. Dr. Nielsen-Gammon's weather-related research involves studies of such phenomena as jet streams, extreme rainfall events, and coastal circulation systems.  His air quality research includes field forecasting support, numerical simulation, and diagnostic analysis of ozone events in Houston and Dallas for the Texas Air Quality Studies (TexAQS) in 2000 and 2005-2006.  Since becoming Texas State Climatologist in 2000, Dr. Nielsen-Gammon has worked on drought monitoring and forecasting, air pollution climatology, and improvements to the climate data record.  He teaches courses in weather analysis, weather forecasting, and atmospheric dynamics.

Tim Oden
Water Quality Specialist 
U.S. Geological Survey

Tim Oden is the water-quality specialist for the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Texas Water Science Center. Tim started his USGS career in New Jersey in 1994 working on various water-quality projects in the State, including trace metals and radiochemicals.  Tim was a groundwater hydrologist for the USGS National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program in New Jersey and Texas from 1998 to 2006. While with the NAWQA Program in Texas, Tim was the Lead Scientist studying naturally occurring contaminants in the Gulf Coast Aquifer System. Recently, Tim has been monitoring nutrient and sediment loads in two tributaries to Lake Houston near Houston and studying water-quality and in-lake processes of Lake Houston. Data collected from the tributaries have been used to develop regression models for selected constituents to estimate constituent concentrations and loads in real-time to Lake Houston. The work done on the tributaries has contributed useful information about Lake Houston water quality and in-lake processes. Tim and his colleagues have developed real-time data collection stations on the lake with vertical profiling capabilities, which provide physiochemical properties of Lake Houston from multiple depths at multiple locations.

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Michael H. Reedy, P. E.
Water Resources Group Manager 
Freese & Nichols, Inc.

Michel H. Reedy is the Water Resources Group Manager for Freese & Nichols, Inc. in their Houston, Texas office.  He holds both a Bachelor of Science and Masters of Science degree from Texas A&M University.  He has worked in the field of water resources for 20 years and is currently responsible for the oversight and direction of major projects relating to water availability and supply planning, regional facilities planning, hydrologic and hydraulic studies, wastewater facilities planning, and dam design and safety throughout Texas.  Mr. Reedy previously served as the lead consultant to the Region H Regional Water Planning Group where he provided the leadership and oversight for the development of the 2006 Region H Regional Water Plan.

Suzanne Schwartz
Environmental Program Director
Center for Public Poicy Dispute Resolution
University of Texas School of Law
Suzanne Schwartz serves as Environmental Program Director for the Center for Public Policy Dispute Resolution at the University of Texas School of Law, where she focuses on building collaboration and resolving disputes in the environmental and natural resources field.  She teaches a course on governmental and public policy dispute resolution at the UT Law School, and provides public training and education on consensus building, multiparty negotiation and collaborative processes. Ms. Schwartz's projects at the Center include a stakeholder collaborative process to assist in the design of environmental studies for the Texas Instream Flow Program, working with federal and state agencies to streamline water permitting processes while ensuring environmental protection, community involvement in highway design and a neighborhood planning project. Prior to joining the center in the fall of 2005, Ms. Schwartz served for 20 years as General Counsel for the Texas Water Development Board, and worked at the Texas Department of Water Resources (predecessor agency to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality), overseeing legal aspects of the agency's water rights program. Ms. Schwartz received both her law degree and Bachelor of Journalism degree from The University of Texas at Austin.

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Jeff Taebel
Community and Environmental Planning
Houston-Galveston Area Council (H-GAC)
Jeff Taebel oversees the community and economic development, environmental planning, livable communities and socioeconomic modeling programs for the 13-county Houston-Galveston region.  Key accomplishments include: Instituting programs to coordinate land use and transportation planning, including Livable Centers; Establishing pedestrian-bicyclist Òspecial districtsÓ program; Developing leading applications for socioeconomic and land use modeling; Guiding economic development and small business financing programs; Producing revenues for local governments enhancing parks and downtown public spaces; Developing a regional solid waste management plan; Establishing a multi-agency water quality monitoring partnership; and Devising a program to distribute federal funds to individuals and communities sustaining damage from Hurricane Rita. Prior to joining H-GAC in 1987, Jeff performed land use analysis/forecasting and neighborhood planning for the City of Houston Department of Planning and Development.  He received a Master of Urban Planning at Texas A&M University in 1982, and a B.S. in Life Sciences at the University of Nebraska in 1978. He is a past President of the Texas Chapter of the American Planning Association (APA) and has served in numerous local, state and national-level advisory roles. In April 2008, he was inducted into the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Certified Planners.

Jeff Taylor
Freese & Nichol, Inc.

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Alex Van Keuren, MPH
Environmental Consultant

Alex began his career in 1973 as a Water Treatment Plant Operator Trainee.  In 1980 he earned a Masters in Public Health from the Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, specializing in water quality management.  Since then he has worked in industry and municipal operations, water, stormwater and wastewater management and regulatory compliance.  As a consultant he has expertise in zero discharge municipal wastewater, industrial waste, wastewater, stormwater, safety management and risk management.