2016 Meeting

Controlling Toxic Chemicals in Drinking Water in Developing Communities: An Innovation Accelerator

Wednesday, October 12, 2016 | 8:30 AM – Noon

Water & Health Conference, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill NC USA

Opening Remarks

Dr. Linda Birnbaum, Director, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and National Toxicology Program



Keynote Presentations

Chemical Pollution in Low- and Middle- Income Countries

Frederik Weiss, Eawag     [ presentation file ]     [ full document ]


E-Waste and Harm to Vulnerable Populations: A Growing Global Problem

Michelle Heacock, Ph.D., NIEHS



Technical Presentations

“Drinking Water Treatment and Refill Stations: decentralized, membrane-based modular water treatment in dense urban areas”

Laura Sima, Ph.D., Environmental Engineer

US Department of State

“Nanocomposite filters for sustainable point-of-use water treatment”     [ presentation file ]

Qammer Zaib, Ph.D., Chemical and Environmental Engineering

Masdar Institute of Science and Technology

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates


“Local biochar adsorbent for control of herbicide in surface water – laboratory experiments and field experiences”     [ presentation file ]

Josh Kearns, ABD ,Environmental Engineering, University of Colorado-Boulder

Visiting Researcher, North Carolina State University

Director of Science, Aqueous Solutions 

Presenter and Convener Bios
Keynote Presenters

Michelle Heacock is a program officer at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) for the Superfund Research Program (SRP), a grant program with a multidisciplinary approach to understanding the toxicity and risks of hazardous substances on human and environmental health. In her role in the NIEHS-WHO Collaborating Centre for Environmental Health, she is the focus area co-lead for e-waste and children’s health. She received her doctorate from Texas A&M University for her work on the interplay between DNA repair proteins and telomeres, followed by a postdoc at the NIEHS investigating the causes and outcomes of cellular toxicity in response to DNA damaging agents.

Frederik Weiss is an interdisciplinary scientist, integrating environmental chemistry, toxicology and biology. He has a mater’s degree in environmental science from the Goethe University in Frankfurt Germany. Since 2013 he has worked at the Department of Water and Sanitation in Developing Countries (Sandec) focusing on chemical pollutants in low-and middle-income countries. He is currently a PhD candidate in Environmental Chemistry at Eawag and ETHZ, conducting fieldwork on pesticides in the tropical Rio Tapezco Catchment in Costa Rica.

Technical Presenters

Laura Sima is an Adviser and environmental engineer at the Department of State. She has served as a Senior Climate Adviser at USAID, and a Postdoctoral fellow with the Environmental Health Sciences Department at Johns Hopkins University, where she worked on developing international criteria to measure water and sanitation development sustainability. She received her PhD in Environmental Engineering at Yale University, and her research interests have focused on WASH in urban areas.

Qammer Zaib successfully defended his PhD in Interdisciplinary Engineering at Masdar Institute (Abu Dhabi) in collaboration with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (USA) in July 2016. He is a chemical engineer by training and holds MS degrees in (i) Total Quality Management, (ii) Environmental Engineering, and (iii) Civil Engineering from University of the Punjab (Pakistan), Hanyang University South (Korea), and University of South Carolina (USA), respectively. His research interests include sustainable water treatment, nanotechnology, and material’s synthesis and characterization for specialized applications.


Anne Mikelonis is a research environmental engineer in the Office of Research and Development at the EPA. She works at EPA’s Durham office location in the Homeland Security Research Center where her current projects focus on the fate and transport of spores and cesium in stormwater. She received her PhD in Environmental Engineering from UT Austin in 2015 where her research focused on the adhesion of different types of silver nanoparticles to ceramic water filters.

Josh Kearns has a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry with a minor in Environmental Engineering from Clemson University, a master’s degree in Biogeochemistry from UC-Berkeley, and is ABD in Environmental Engineering from CU-Boulder (PhD expected December 2016). He has ten years’ intermittent experience working on appropriate technologies for community Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH), primarily in Southeast Asia. His laboratory and field research develops low cost water treatment systems that incorporate biochar adsorbent for control of synthetic chemical pollutants.