Engineering faculty named director of research for the Penn State Water Council

July 18, 2022

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared on Penn State News. Alfonso Mejia, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, is mentioned in the article.  

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The emerging Penn State Water Consortium announced personnel updates to the Penn State Water Council and the addition of a director of research. 

Director of Research  

Alfonso Mejia, associate professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, was named the director of research. In this role, he will work closely with Andrew Warner, the director of the emerging Water Consortium, as well as the elected Water Council and faculty across the University to enhance existing research and identify and advance new interdisciplinary water-related research initiatives. The director of research for the Water Consortium serves a two-year term. 

“Through the Water Council, we have engaged faculty University-wide in framing Penn State’s water-related research priorities,” Warner said. “The director of research will bring both leadership and critical support capacity for faculty interested in advancing interdisciplinary initiatives and securing the necessary funding to do so.” 

Mejia said he believes this position is a great way of serving the Penn State community while doing research and getting to know the community better. 

“I have always felt that water is truly an interdisciplinary field, but this also means that we need to put in the time and effort, beyond our domain specific work, to think about, define and coordinate that interdisciplinary work,” Mejia said. “I would like Penn State to be ready as a community to pursue and lead more ambitious and larger research projects.” 

Mejia said his goal is to identify opportunities, build external partnerships, help form teams and listen to the ideas and needs of the Penn State water community to go after specific research opportunities. 

“My academic background is in water-resource engineering and hydrology,” Mejia said. “Through water, I have had the opportunity to collaborate with and learn from colleagues in different fields and departments. I would like to explore how to make our interdisciplinary science more effective and reflect these improvements in the way we train students.” 

Water Council Update  

The Water Council recently held its election where three new council members were selected. The new council members are:  

  • Antonia Hadjimichael, assistant professor in the Department of Geosciences in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. She works on water resources planning under uncertainty, with a particular interest in complex socio-environmental systems. 
  • Tyler Groh, assistant research professor in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management in the College of Agricultural Sciences. His work includes providing science-based education and resources to both agricultural water and urban stormwater quality issues. 
  • Meng Wang, assistant professor in the Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. Her research focuses on the environmental biotechnology for pollution control, resource recovery and environmental sustainability. 

These members will replace the outgoing faculty members, Heather Preisendanz, Ken Davis and Matt Royer. Council members are elected to three-year terms. 

Additionally, two outgoing graduate students, Devon Kerins and Mahsa Adib, will be succeeded by incoming graduate students Erin Trouba, who is studying to receive her master’s degree in rural sociology, and Praharsh Patel, who is a doctoral student studying energy, environmental, and food economics. Student council members are elected to one-year terms.


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