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Ryerson Urban Water

Executive Committee

David M. Atkinson, PhD

David Atkinson is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies at Ryerson University and is also the Director of the Polar Regions Spatial & Environmental Analysis Lab (Polar SEAL). Dr. Atkinson is an Arctic Spatial Ecologist with a PhD from Queen’s University, and a MES and BES from the University of Waterloo. He has over 16 years of experience in the Canadian North and 9 field seasons undertaking remote mid-­ and high-­Arctic field research. Dr. Atkinson’s research focuses on examining biophysical properties of terrestrial Arctic ecosystems and how satellite imagery can help to better understand Arctic change and disturbance. Most recently, Dr. Atkinson has been examining perennial snow packs and how they impact adjacent wetlands in terms of carbon dynamics and water resources. He is pursuing research into how Nunavut can best protect and manage its community source water. Additionally, Dr. Atkinson collaborates on various Arctic projects that examine how mapped Inuit knowledge can be best integrated into ecosystem and water management. Dr. Atkinson supervises graduate students both the Environmental Applied Science and Management program as well as for the Masters of Spatial Analysis. Each year Dr. Atkinson teaches GEO131 Energy Earth and Ecosystems where he leads ~100 students on an all‐day tour of the Credit River watershed, from the headwaters to the mouth.

Darko Joksimovic, PhD, PEng

Darko Joksimovic is an Associate Professor in the Department of Civil Engineering at Ryerson University. Dr. Joksimovic’s research interests are in the area of urban water management. His research is conducted in close collaboration with municipalities, Conservation Authorities and engineering companies, and funded by NSERC, Mitacs and Environment Canada. His past and current research projects include: incorporating new technologies, ranging from latest remote sensing products to sensors and information technologies, in management of urban drainage systems; integration of legacy storm water practices with green infrastructure, including monitoring, modeling and alternative project delivery methods; and optimal planning and design of water reuse systems, through development of methodologies and tools to address the significant growth in number and complexities of water reuse schemes. Dr. Joksimovic received a PhD in Engineering from the University of Exeter, an MASc from University of Toronto and BEng from Ryerson University.

Andrew Laursen, PhD

Andrew Laursen is an Associate Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biology at Ryerson University. His primary research interests surround the study of ecosystem function, both natural and human made. In particular, Dr. Laursen is interested in how systems respond to disturbances such as storms, land-­use change, or biological invasion. His research runs the gamut from microbial ecology and effects of small scale variations on microbial activities, to whole-­ecosystem measurements of biogeochemical processes, allowing a better understanding of ecosystem function across a range of temporal and spatial scales. This is currently directed to better understand how retention ponds built as part of storm water infrastructure are functioning, and how this function may be improved. His research group is also engaged in watershed-­scale modeling to assess how a whole river network might respond to land use and climate change scenarios. Dr. Laursen has supervised 22 Master students and 2 PhD students, published 21 peer reviewed scientific articles and more than 50 conference abstracts. Dr. Laursen is a passionate teacher, and a recent recipient of the Provost’s Innovative Teaching Award and Dean’s Teaching Award.

James Li, PhD, PEng, DWRE

James Li is a Professor in the Department of Civil Engineering at Ryerson University, a licensed professional engineer in Ontario, and the Diplomat of American Academy of Water Resource Engineers. Dr. Li’s research interests include: hydraulic and sediment transport in natural streams, hydraulics of oil/water separators and contaminant transport in unsaturated zones, urban storm water management, treatment techniques for combined sewer overflows and urban water budget, urban green development, laboratory analysis of dioxins and furan, and Integrated Geographic Information System (GIS) and hydrological modeling. Dr. Li was one of the six international storm water experts in 2013/2014 of the Canadian Water Network and currently is a member of the MOECC Low Impact Development Stakeholder Review Group.

Lynda McCarthy, PhD

Dr. Lynda McCarthy is a Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biology at Ryerson University. Her research includes aquatic ecotoxicology, Great Lakes pollution and remediation, and the impact on organisms from land-­applied pulp mill and municipal biosolids. She is the recipient of several merit awards and is frequently an invited speaker at international conferences. Dr. McCarthy has acquired approximately $1.8M in funding to support her research and graduate students. For example, funds have been provided by NSERC, the Canadian Water Network, and Imperial Oil. Dr. McCarthy is well-­known for her incredibly passionate lectures focused around ecotoxicology, limnology, and environmental biology and has been the recipient of several teaching excellence awards. She attended both Queen’s University and the University of Waterloo where she gained a BSc and a PhD respectively and was a federal government scientist for many years at the Great Lakes institute Canada Centre for Inland Waters (CCIW). At Ryerson University, Dr. McCarthy is the founding visionary behind Ryerson Urban Water (RUW) and is currently an Executive Member. She is an active member in the community and champion of water and environmental education. She is currently leading an initiative that brings Ontario school boards and the Ministry of Education together with education experts to find a path forward for educating our youth in environmental education. Dr. McCarthy has contributed to Advisory Boards and Conference Committees and is currently National Co­‐Chair of the Water Dialogues of the International Woman’s Forum. Her motto is: from the classroom to the boardroom to the legislature.

Mehrab Mehrvar, PhD, PEng

Dr. Mehrvar joined Ryerson University in 1998 and he is now a Full Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering. He earned his PhD in Chemical Engineering at the University of Waterloo in 1998 and worked as a post-doctoral research associate for six months at the University of Waterloo. He obtained his BSc in Chemical Engineering from Sistan and Baluchistan University, Iran, in 1988 and his MSc also in Chemical Engineering from Shiraz University, Iran, in 1991. Dr. Mehrvar has gained considerable industrial experience in both marine and pharmaceutical industries as a research engineer.

His main research interests include the integration of advanced oxidation technologies and biological processes for the treatment of water and wastewater, photochemical reaction engineering, and improvement of feeding strategies for the production of high cell mass in fed-batch fermentation. In addition, he has done an industrial research project on the modeling of gas bubbling in a liquid steel flow channel in collaboration with Advent Process Engineering Inc., Burlington, Ontario.

He has been the interim chair of the Department of Chemical Engineering during 2009-2011. He has served in many committees such as curriculum, departmental appointment committee (DAC), and the chair of departmental council for several years. In faculty level, he has served in several promotion, merit, and teaching standard committees. At the university level, he has served as the departmental representative in the RFA Rep’s council during 1999-2011. He has also been active in professional society as a member of organizing committee for several international conferences, invited lecturer, international research collaborator, and senior life member of AIChE. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the American Journal of Modern Chemical Engineering. Dr. Mehrvar was also part of the Program Review Team for Chemistry Program at Ryerson University in 2014. Dr. Mehrvar is a licensed professional engineer in the province of Ontario, Canada.


Stephanie Melles, PhD

Stephanie Melles, PhD., is a spatial ecologist working to study in thorough detail where organisms are located, both on land and aquatic habitats. Her research is focused on understanding the principle ecological drivers of species distribution and diversity patterns across a range of spatial-temporal scales.  Dr. Melles combines field-based observation with theoretical modelling and statistical simulation to unravel current and past ecological drivers of diversity. She is very interested in studies of how humans observe, modify, and control patterns of species distribution and diversity in different ecosystem types (e.g., urban lands and waters, rivers, lakes, forested, and agricultural systems).

Stephanie's current work is mainly focused on unravelling how climate change, urbanization, and invasive species lead to altered communities and extinctions across scales, which can have dramatic consequences for ecosystem diversity. She is also interested in how sampling design affects inference and the design of more (cost) effective sampling strategies.

Angela Murphy, MSc

Angela Murphy is Manager of Research and Partnerships at Ryerson Urban Water where she manages impactful research projects, facilitates research contracts and funding proposals, and manages partnerships and activities that promote progressive and innovative approaches to managing our most precious resource.

Angela is originally from Ottawa where she was Senior Science Policy Advisor at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada for nearly a decade and advised the Minister’s Office and senior officials on strategic science and innovation advancements. Angela developed strong networks across federal and provincial governments and industry. Angela advised on the Canadian Science and Technology Strategy, Canadian Biotechnology Strategy, Canadian Regulatory Reform, and was on the Steering Committee of the International Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and published three policy papers on Biotechnology to 2030: Designing a Policy Agenda.

In addition, Angela led the print and web publication of biomedical journals at National Research Council of Canada for nearly a decade as Managing Editor of the Canadian Journal of Microbiology, the Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology, and Genome. There she led a team of science editors and delivered seminars on Ethics in Research, Presentation of Data, Translation of Research, and Science Communication.

Earlier in career, Angela also worked as a science editor (as Assistant Managing Editor of the Canadian Journal of Veterinary Medicine and the Canadian Journal of Veterinary Research).  In this role she served as the national link between veterinarians, clinical best practice and public policy. Angela holds a Masters in Science and has published in the Canadian Journal of Botany and Ecological Monographs


Claire Oswald, PhD

Dr. Claire Oswald is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies at Ryerson University in Toronto, ON. Dr. Oswald is a broadly-trained physical geographer with research interests in catchment hydrology, biogeochemistry, pollutant (e.g. mercury, chloride) fate and transport, and dissolved organic matter quantity and quality.  These interests span both natural and human-dominated landscapes, from the Boreal forests of northwestern Ontario to constructed wetlands in the Alberta Oil Sands Region to urban and urbanizing watersheds in south-central Ontario. Dr. Oswald holds a PhD (2011) in Physical Geography from the University of Toronto, an M.Sc (2002) in Physical Geography from McMaster University and a B.Sc (1999) in Physics from McMaster University.

Nicholas Reid, BSc

Nick Reid is the new Executive Director of RUW. Nick has a BSc Hon in Environmental Science & Biology from Trent University and has enjoyed a long career in the water and environmental sectors.

As an executive at the Ontario Clean Water Agency (OCWA), he was general manager of the Region of Peel’s four main drinking water and wastewater plants, ensuring continuous service to 1.2 M residents under the largest operating contract in Ontario. One of Nick’s strengths is his collaborative work with a diverse network of stakeholders in organizations, municipalities, ministries, and industry, seeking opportunities to execute long‐term strategic initiatives fundamental to Ontario’s water sector. In his role with OCWA, he participated in several stakeholder consultations as the province developed the Water Opportunities Act and its Water Sector Strategy.

As an active member of the American Water Works Association (AWWA), Nick took over as chair of their Manufacturers and Associates Council Subcommittee on the Low Economic Value of Water.  In 2015 he became a Director of the Ontario Water Works Association and is also an active mentor with the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council, helping highly skilled immigrants adapt to Canadian business practices.