Think Tank Network

The GWI Academy Think Tank Network facilitates communication between professionals involved or interested in urban water sustainability and the mission of the GWI Academy. Think Tank affiliates’ brief bios and email contact information will be posted on this web page. If interested in joining the Network, please send your 75-100-word narrative biography and email address to:

Maria Nariné Torres

Dr. Maria Nariné Torres is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Research and Education in eNergy, Environment, and Water (RENEW) Institute at University at Buffalo (SUNY). Maria has Ph.D. and M.S. degrees in Civil Engineering from Universidad de Los Andes, Bogotá (Colombia). She has been a postdoctoral fellow at the Civil, Structural, and Environmental Department of the University at Buffalo since 2019. She is currently working on Green Infrastructure selection, and location for Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs) abatement combining urban drainage models, feasibility analysis, and optimization. Maria’s research interests also include rainwater harvesting, GI environmental benefits, and participatory modeling.

Bae, Ki-Hwan Gabriel

Dr. Ki-Hwan G. Bae is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Industrial Engineering at the University of Louisville. He has Ph.D. and M.S. degrees in Industrial Engineering – Operations Research from Virginia Tech and Purdue University, respectively. His research experience and interests include modeling and solving problems of complex systems in the areas of water resource management, logistics, and healthcare using simulation and optimization methods.

Brears, Robert C.

Robert Brears is the author of Urban Water Security (Wiley).    He is a Director on the International Board of the Indo Global Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture, and founder of Mitidaption & Mark and Focus.    Previously he was a Visiting Scholar (non-resident) at the Center for Conflict Studies, MIIS, Monterey, United States. 
He is a contributing author for the World Bank’s Water Blog, United Nations Industrial Development Organization’s Making It Magazine, Green Growth Knowledge Platform’s Insight Blog, Johns Hopkins University’s Water Magazine, China Water Risk, Water Online and RepRisk. Robert has published widely on water security, water resources management, and related issues, and has conducted field research around the world, including Antarctica.

Lee, Juneseok

Dr. Juneseok Lee is an Associate Professor in the Department of Civil Engineering at San José State University and the California Water Service Company Chair Professor. He received his Ph.D. and M.S. degrees from Virginia Tech and B.S. degree from Korea University all in Civil Engineering. Dr. Lee has been conducting research into various aspects of drinking water infrastructure systems and published over 30 journal articles and proceedings. Dr. Lee is a registered Professional Engineer of Civil Engineering in the state of California and a member of the ASCE.

Mainali, Bandita

Dr Bandita Mainali is a Lecturer in Civil Engineering Department at La Trobe University. She has PhD in Environmental Engineering from University of Technology Sydney and Master degree in Water Resources Management Leuphana University, Germany. She has more than 10 years of industrial and academic experience in civil and environmental engineering field. Her expertise and practical experiences cover the areas of hydrology and hydraulics, environmental engineering, water and wastewater engineering. Her research interest is on the innovative water and wastewater treatment and reuse technologies.

O’Neill, Katherine

Dr. Katherine O’Neill is an Associate Professor of Environmental Studies at Roanoke College where her research links ecosystems, soils, and land management to addresses the interconnections between land use and the ecosystem services that support human well-being.  She received her Ph.D. from the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University and her B.S. in Geology and Environmental Science from the College of William and Mary. She also served as a research scientist for the USDA where she helped to develop and promote sustainable management practices for forest and agricultural lands.

Robillard, Paul

Dr. Paul D. Robillard is Executive Director of World Water Watch ( He received his B.S. degree from the University of Notre Dame. His graduate degrees (M.S. and Ph.D.) were completed at Cornell University. Paul’s research interests include: the impact of climate change on flow regimes; water quality monitoring networks; Integrated Watershed Management (IWM) and watershed scale conservation systems.

Tucker, Adrienne

Dr. Adrienne LaBranche Tucker has a Ph.D. and M.S. degree from Virginia Tech and a B.S. degree from Clemson University. Adrienne has researched and worked in the rainwater harvesting field and has collaborated to develop Virginia rainwater harvesting guidelines. She has also researched alternative water supply options to meet irrigation demands. Adrienne has been working in higher education sustainability to train educators on sustainability topics and to integrate sustainable practices both on campus and within communities.

Zendehdel, Kamran

Dr. Kamran Zendehdel as the Assistant Director of Center for Sustainable Development obtained his Ph.D. in Environmental Policy Making from Ghent University in Belgium in 2008. Dr. Zendehdel is currently working on various components of urban sustainability including green infrastructure, urban agriculture and composting policies. He is also teaching Environmental Sustainability related courses at UDC. Prior to joining to UDC, he worked as an Environmental Scientist at Tetra Tech Inc. in Fairfax, Virginia, where he managed the Chesapeake Bay non-point source pollution control project. Prior to his Ph.D. study, he was working for more than 7 years as a Natural Resources Conservation Expert in Iran. Dr. Zendehdel research interests emphasize the application of community-based decision making in environmental sustainability in particular where people and policy makers’ interests intersect.