SMCMB Conference Speaker Biographs...
(in alphabetical order)

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Dr. Naomi Balaban is Founder of StaphOff Biotech, Inc. in Boston, Massachusetts. She is internationally recognized as a pioneer and leader in the discovery and design of quorum-quenching inhibitors and target receptors used to combat human and animal bacterial infections. Dr. Balaban received her BSc in Biology from the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, her MSc in Neurobiology, and her PhD in Infectious Disease from the Weizmann Institute of Science, also in Israel. Since 2002, Dr. Balaban has been associated with the School of Veterinary Medicine as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences at Tufts University, Boston, MA. Her research interests are in bacterial pathogenesis and vaccine development. She is author of over 50 scientific and technical publications and holds multiple patents. Dr Balaban is also co-founder of Centegen Inc., which is now developing a cow anti-staphyloccus vaccine through an exclusive license to Merial, Inc.


Professor Rita Colwell holds a PhD in Oceanography from the University of Washington. Currently she is “Distinguished University Professor” at the University of Maryland at College Park and at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, senior advisor and chairman emeritus at Canon US Life Sciences, Inc., and president and CEO of CosmosID, Inc. Her research interests are focused on global infectious diseases, water, and health; and in this context she is developing an international network to address emerging infectious diseases and water issues, including safe drinking water for the world. Professor Colwell served as the Director of the National Science Foundation (NSF) from 1998 to 2004 and in this capacity she served as co-chair of the Committee on Science of the National Science and Technology Council. Dr. Colwell is a nationally-respected scientist and educator, and has authored or co-authored 17 books and more than 750 scientific publications. She is the recipient of numerous prestigious scientific awards and has been awarded 55 honorary degrees from institutions of higher education, including her alma mater, Purdue University. She is the recipient of the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star, bestowed by the Emperor of Japan; the 2006 National Medal of Science, awarded by the President of the United States; and the 2010 Stockholm Water Prize, awarded by the King of Sweden.


Dr. Jean-Philippe Croué is full Professor in Environmental Science and Engineering at Curtin University Perth, Australia and director of the Curtin Water Quality Research Centre since September 2014. He was previously Professor at KAUST, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia from September 2009 to September 2014 where he was conducting his research at the Water Desalination and Reuse Center. He was Professor at the University of Poitiers in France from 1989 to 2009. He obtained is MSc in Environmental Engineering from the University of Chambery – France in 1983 and his PhD degree from the University of Poitiers, France in 1987. Professor Croué has made significant scientific contributions toward understanding the structure and composition of humic and non-humic substances in natural water and urban wastewater effluents using advanced analytical characterization tools. He is recognized globally as a leader in the analysis and characterization of natural organic matter, photosensitization, microbial disinfection, and advanced oxidation processes (AOPs). In recent years, he and his colleagues have made significant strides in understanding complex reaction mechanisms leading to the production of toxic disinfection by-products (DBPs). A large part of his research is related to organic matter/surface interactions, such as those occurring during reverse osmosis and other membrane filtration processes, with a focus on organic fouling and biofouling i.e., structural characterization of foulant and impact on membrane performance. ​




Professor David Davies is Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences and Director of the Binghamton Center for Biofilm Research at Binghamton University, New York. Professor Davies holds a PhD in Microbiology from the Center for Biofilm Engineering at Montana State University where he did pioneering research into the mechanisms of signal transduction and gene expression by surface-adherent bacteria. His laboratory currently focuses on the biology of biofilm bacteria and how they regulate their behavior with the aim of controlling and managing biofilm growth in industrial, medical and built environments. They have conducted groundbreaking studies in recent years in the area of biofilm control using the biofilm-dispersion inducer cis-2-decenoic acid (cis2D). A significant goal of their research is to develop cis2D into a commercially viable option to combat biofilm growth in environments ranging from non-healing wounds to contact lenses to cooling towers.



Professor Hans-Curt Flemming is recognized worldwide as a leading academic and expert on microbial biofilms in natural and human-engineered environments. He has published more than 300 scientific and technical articles and edited 11 books related to all aspects of the science and technology of biofilms. Currently he is a "Distinguished Visiting Professor" at the Singapore Center for Life Science and Engineering (SCELSE) at Nanyang Technological University. He earned his PhD on the biosynthesis of O-antigens in Escherichia coli at the Max-Planck-Institute for Immunobiology in Freiburg, Germany. In 1986 he established the Biofilm Research Group at the University of Stuttgart and in 1994 co-created the Biotechnology Department at TU Munich headed by Prof. Peter Wilderer. From 1996 to 2014 he was Full Professor for Aquatic Microbiology at the University of Duisburg-Essen; and in 2001 he founded the International Curriculum on “Water Science” at his university. Between 2001-2014 Prof. Flemming founded and directed the Biofilm Centre at the University of Duisburg-Essen and he currently serves on the board of directors of the IWW Water Centre, Muelheim. From 2012-2014 he was Chairman of IWA BioCluster. Since October 2014 Prof. Flemming has been Professor Emeritus.




Professor Charles Gerba is Professor in the Department of Soil Water and Environmental Science at the University of Arizona, Tucson. He holds a PhD in Microbiology from the University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL and a BSc in Microbiology from Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ. Professor Gerba is recognized around the world for his scientific contributions and community service in solving global water issues. He is the recipient of numerous academic and industry awards, including the 1997 American Water Works Association Honorary Lifetime Membership Award for dedicated service to the water treatment industry, Water Quality Association; the 2005 Shah Distinguished Lectureship in Risk Assessment, Stanford University; and the 2007 Quentin Mees Research Award for outstanding research in applied water science, Arizona Water Pollution Control Association. Professor Gerba’s research interests include environmental microbiology, gene probe design and utilization, water reuse, biocolloid transport in subsurfaces, virology, parasitology, and risk assessment. He has authored numerous books and scientific publications in the above areas.


Professor Eric Hoek is CEO of Water Planet, Inc. and is an internationally recognized expert in water treatment, UCLA environmental engineering Full Professor, founder of 4 successful water technology startups, and considered a thought leader across the water industry. He has worked on various aspects of water treatment including drinking water treatment, wastewater treatment, desalination, oil & gas produced water treatment, municipal and industrial water reuse and oil spill remediation. His research interests include bacterial adhesion to membrane materials and the innovation of control strategies for biofilm formation in membrane systems. He has served as a consultant to municipal water authorities, water technology startups, hedge funds, venture capital funds, law firms, private research foundations, non-profit foundations, US federal, state and local agencies and foreign national research agencies. He has over 130 scientific publications, over 70 patents filed in the U.S. and internationally, and serves as the Editor-in-Chief of the Nature Publishing Group journal npj Clean Water. He is a graduate of Penn State (B.S.), UCLA (M.S.), Yale University (Ph.D.) and the Executive Management program at the UCLA Anderson School of Management.

Professor Sunny Jiang is “Professor of Environmental Engineering” in the Henry Samueli Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, with joint appointment in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of California, Irvine. Dr. Jiang teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in Environmental Processes, Microbiology for Engineers and Desalination & Water Reuse. She has over 20 years of experience in environmental microbiology research and is a leader in the field of water quality, pathogen detection, microbial risk assessment and membrane biofouling. Recently, Dr. Jiang and her colleagues have shown that quorum sensing (QS) pathways play an important role in biofilm formation and subsequent membrane biofouling; and they’ve successfully reduced biofilm formation on membranes through addition of QS inhibitors (QSI). Professor Jiang has authored >70 scientific publications in the field of environmental microbiology (http://www.researcherid.com/rid/H-7702-2012). She received her Ph.D. degree in Marine Science from University of South Florida and completed her postdoctoral training with Dr. Rita Colwell in University of Maryland. She is a recipient of several honors and awards including Excellent Research Mentor Award and Sacket Prize for Innovative Research. During her spare time, Dr. Jiang enjoys outdoor activities and has completed 13 full marathons.



Professor John Orbell completed his PhD in Chemistry at the University of Auckland, NZ in 1979 where he had been a Lecturer. He subsequently conducted postdoctoral studies under a prestigious Johns Hopkins University Research Scholarship, and from 1982 to 1987 he held research and teaching positions at the University of Trieste in Italy, Flinders University of South Australia, University of Maryland in the USA, and St. Vincent's Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne, Australia. In 1988, he was appointed Lecturer in Chemistry in the School of Applied Science at the Western Institute, Melbourne, AU - later to become part of Victoria University. From 1993 to 1997 Dr. Orbell was the Head of the Department of Environmental Management at Victoria University and in 2004 was appointed as full Professor of Chemistry in the Institute for Sustainable Industries and Liveable Cities (ISILC), College of Engineering & Science. Professor Orbell has a diverse range of research interests and has an international profile in a number of areas, including computational chemistry, medicinal chemistry, environmental studies, and microbial control.


Dr. Andrew Orry has more than 20 years of experience in the field of structure-based drug design. He has worked on and led many successful small-molecule drug discovery projects at MolSoft, Inc., a computational chemistry and biology software company based in San Diego, California. Dr. Orry earned an MSc in Bioinformatics at the University of Manchester and completed his PhD in Biophysics at Birkbeck College University of London, UK. The focus of his PhD thesis was predicting the structure and function of membrane proteins using in silico biophysics approaches. In 2001, he moved to the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California to work as a Postdoc with Prof. Ruben Abagyan at UCSD. His postdoctoral studies were focused on molecular modeling and drug design of G-Protein Coupled Receptors. He later moved to Molsoft as a Senior Research Scientist. Dr. Orry is currently involved in contract research projects with biotech and pharmaceutical companies at MolSoft, as well as providing support for the company’s Internal Coordinate Mechanics (ICM) desktop modeling software. Notably, ICM ranked “First” in docking accuracy in the 2016-17 D3R “Drug Design Challenge Competition” (Lam, Abagyan and Totrov 2018), as well as in a recently published 2018 independent covalent docking study (Scarpino et al.)




Professor Francois Perreault is Assistant Professor in the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment at Arizona State University. Prior to ASU, he completed his PhD in Environmental Sciences in the Institute of Environmental Sciences and the Department of Chemistry of the University of Quebec in Montreal. He worked at Yale University as an NSERC postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering. In his research, he explores the interface between biological and engineered systems, with an emphasis on environmental nanotechnology, nanotoxicology, environmental microbiology, and water quality.

Dr. Sadhana Ravishankar is Associate Professor in the School of Animal & Comparative Biomedical Sciences, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ.  Her research focuses on various aspects of food safety, including: Control of foodborne pathogenic bacteria including antibiotic resistant strains using various technologies and multiple hurdle approach; Natural antimicrobials and their applications in organic foods, plant antimicrobial washes for fresh produce, antimicrobial and anti-oxidative activities of plant compounds in grilled meats; Bacterial attachment and biofilm formation in leafy green production environments; Survival and prevalence of foodborne pathogens in fresh produce growing environments/organic composts; and Stress tolerance responses of foodborne pathogenic bacteria. Dr. Ravishankar has published over 50 manuscripts in peer-reviewed international scientific journals.  Her research has been featured in various mass media including magazines, newspapers, televisions and radio. 


Professor Scott Rice holds MSc and BSc degrees from the University of Tennessee and Virginia Tech, respectively; and a PhD (1996) from the University of Tennessee. He is currently Senior Research Fellow in the Center for Marine Bio-Innovation, University of New South Wales, Sydney, AU and Visiting Professor in the School of Biological Sciences and the Singapore Centre on Environmental Life Sciences Engineering (SCELSE), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. His current and recent research span a diversity of topics, including: (1) Use of nitric oxide (NO) and other signaling compounds for controlling biofilms and biofouling on water purification membranes used in reverse osmosis and bioreactor applications; (2) Bioinspired liquid infused coatings to prevent marine biofouling in tropical environments; (3) Controlling biofilm dispersal by defined molecular switches; (4) Inter-microbial community interactions and their impact on host colonization of host; (5) Microbially induced corrosion; (6) Multi-action antibiotics to treat chronic biofilm infections; (7) Novel antimicrobial hydrogel formulations for biomedical devices; (8) The SiaABCD Signaling Pathway as a target for novel anti-infective drugs against Pseudomonas Aeruginosa; (9) the human skin microbiome; and (10) Understanding the viral composition of phytoplankton blooms in Singapore coastal waters.

Dr. Harry Ridgway holds a PhD in Marine Microbiology from Scripps Institute of Oceanography in San Diego, California. After conducting postdoctoral research on signal transduction in Eshcherichia coli at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and water/biofilm microbiology at UC Irvine, he formed the Biotechnology Research Group at Orange County Water District (OCWD) in southern California. Dr. Ridgway and his colleagues carried out seminal research on the role of bacterial biofilms in the performance decline of reverse osmosis (RO) membranes used in desalination and water reuse. Their pioneering studies helped shape the current generation of high-flux, low-fouling RO membranes now in use around the globe. Dr. Ridgway was the 2002 recipient of the Athalie Irvine Richardson Clarke Prize. In 2003, Ridgway formed AquaMem Scientific Consultants focused on the development and application of molecular dynamics and related computational modeling approaches across the water treatment community. From 2003 - 2013, Dr. Ridgway was "Consulting Professor" in Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University. Currently Dr. Ridgway is Adjunct Professor in the Institute for Sustainable Industries & Liveable Cities (ISILC), Victoria University, Melbourne, AU. He assists clients around the globe with their research needs in the areas of molecular simulations and fluid dynamics modeling with an emphasis on water treatment applications.




Professor Phil Stewart is currently Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering in the Norm Asbjornson College of Engineering at Montana State University (MSU). From 2005 – 2015 he was Director of the Center for Biofilm Engineering, also at MSU. Professor Stewart earned his doctorate in Chemical Engineering at Stanford University and is known worldwide for his seminal contributions in the area of microbial biofilms in natural and human-engineered systems. His specific research interests include: (1) Biofilm control with antimicrobial agents; (2) Transport phenomena in biofilms; (3) Biofilm modeling; and (4) Biofilm detachment processes. Most recently, Dr. Stewart and his colleagues have completed a major 4-year study aimed at elucidating how the life-threatening bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa can withstand antibiotic therapies. Professor Stewart has authored >150 scientific papers and contributed to numerous books about biofilms.

Professor Johannes (Hans) Vrouwenvelder is currently Director of the Water Desalination and Reuse Center (WDRC) at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), Saudi Arabia. He is also full professor in the Department of Biotechnology, Delft University of Technology, Netherlands. His research focuses on: (1) Microbiological and process technological aspects of water treatment and transport; (2) Biofouling, biofilms, hydraulic biofilm resistance, biological stability, microbial (re)growth; (3) Fouling control of membrane systems (e.g. RO, NF, UF, FO) and cooling towers; (4) Sensors and tools for (i) early detection and in-situ non-destructive biofouling/biofilm monitoring and characterization and (ii) rapid sensitive microbial water quality monitoring; (5) Numerical modelling of fouling and water treatment system performance; and (6) Dynamics of microbial ecology of drinking water distribution systems.​ Professor Vrouwenvelder earned his PhD in Biotechnology at the Faculty of Applied Sciences, Delft University of Technology, Netherlands. He is the 2011 recipient of the Waternet Watercyclus Innovation Award and has authored more than 150 scientific publications​.


Professor Harvey Winters is Professor Emeritus at Fairleigh Dickinson University, Teaneck, New Jersey in the School of Natural Sciences. Professor Winters received his PhD (1970) from Columbia University, New York in Chemical Biology and did Post-Doctoral Fellowship at Columbia University (1970-72) on micro-fouling of marine surfaces supported by the Office of Navy Research. Professor Winters began his research interests into Reverse Osmosis (RO) desalination in 1976 and eventually became Director of Desalination Technology Transfer Center at Fairleigh Dickinson University in 1980. His research, which focuses on microbial fouling of RO membranes in seawater applications, has been supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), Office of Navy Research (ONR), U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) and Middle East Desalination Research Center (MEDRC) in Muscat, Oman. He has over 60 research publications and holds patents in RO desalination. Professor Winters is a reviewer for Journal of Membrane Science and IDA Journal of Desalination and Water Reuse. He has been Director of the International Desalination Association (IDA) and has been awarded two prestigious awards from IDA for most outstanding research papers at the 1995 and 2005 IDA World Congresses on Desalination and Water Reuse. In 2011, Professor Winters accepted “Visiting Professorships” at (1) Nanyang Technological University as part of Environment and Water Technologies Visiting Professor Programme, Singapore; and (2) WDRC, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.


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