2017 Conference Chairs
Dr. Rula A. Deeb
Principal Civil and Environmental Engineer, Geosyntec Consultants
Rula Deeb received her doctorate from the University of California at Berkeley in Civil and Environmental Engineering where her research focused on substrate interactions of gasoline aromatics and oxygenates. As a post-doctoral fellow at Berkeley, she developed and implemented research programs in collaboration with scientists and engineers at other universities, consulting firms and the U.S. Air Force on the remediation of sites impacted with contaminant mixtures. Her research has been recognized with awards from the National Science Foundation, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Water Environment Federation, American Society of Civil Engineers, American Association of University Women, Air and Waste Management Association, American Chemical Society and American Society for Microbiology. Following teaching assignments at Berkeley and Stanford, Dr. Deeb was selected as a National Science Foundation Engineering Education Scholar for Excellence in Engineering Education.
Dr. Deeb’s technical expertise includes the cross-media fate and transport of contaminants, and the remediation of complex soil and groundwater sites impacted by non-aqueous phase liquids. Her focus on emerging contaminants has promoted awareness and improved the understanding of the sources, occurrence, fate and transport and behavior of these compounds (including perfluorinated compounds, 1,4-dioxane, MTBE and other fuel oxygenates, perchlorate, NDMA, EDCs, PPCPs and others) in natural and treatment environments. Dr. Deeb is heavily engaged in the National Academy of Engineering Frontiers of Engineering program which brings together emerging engineering leaders from industry, academia and government to discuss pioneering technical work and leading edge research in various engineering fields and industry sectors. She is the recipient of the 2008 Berkeley Engineering Innovation Young Outstanding Leader Award.
Dr. Joseph B. Hughes
Dean of the College of Engineering; Distiguished University Professor, Drexel University
Dr. Joseph B. Hughes is the Dean of the University’s College of Engineering at Drexel University. As dean of the College of Engineering, Hughes leads Drexel’s largest college with more than 3,500 students enrolled in six departments specializing in research, experiential and global education.
Hughes was the he Karen and John Huff School chair and professor of civil, environmental and materials science engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology and held dual appointments at Georgia Tech as a professor of civil and environmental engineering and a professor of material science and engineering. Prior to his time at Georgia Tech, he served on the faculty at Rice University. He is active in the National Academy of Engineering's Frontiers of Engineering program as a speaker and organizer; is a Diplomat (by Eminence) of the American Academy of Environmental Engineering; and, is a member of the U.S. EPA science advisory committee on environmental engineering.
He has received the McKee Medal from the Water Environment Federation; the Walter P. Huber Research Prize from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE); the Charles Duncan Award for Outstanding Academic Achievement at Rice University; is a member of Chi Epsilon, and twice was recognized with the ASCE Outstanding Professor Award at Rice University. Hughes earned his master’s and doctoral degrees in environmental engineering from the University of Iowa and received his undergraduate degree in chemistry from Cornell University.
Dr. Jim C. Spain
Professor Emeritus, Georgia Institute of Technology
Research Professor, University of West Florida
Jim Spain joined the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology at the beginning of 2005. Dr. Spain received his PhD in microbiology from The University of Texas at Austin and a BS in Biology from the University of Texas at Arlington. He studied the biodegradation of pesticides in the marine environment for five years as a post-doctoral fellow and research scientist at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Marine Environmental Research Laboratory.
Prior to joining Georgia Tech Dr. Spain directed the Environmental Biotechnology research program at the Air Force Research Laboratory in Panama City, Florida where he studied the biodegradation of synthetic organic compounds in the environment. His research interests in environmental biotechnology include: discovery and construction of bacteria for degradation of substituted aromatic compounds; physiological and ecological factors controlling microbial processes; and discovery of biocatalysts for green chemistry synthesis of novel materials. He works at the interface between basic microbiology research and practical applications to solve environmental problems.
Dr. Spain is a former editor for Applied and Environmental Microbiology and has published over 130 peer reviewed papers, several books, and numerous book chapters on the biodegradation and biosynthesis of organic compounds. He has served on review committees for the EPA, DoE, NIEHS, and DoD and on the editorial boards of a variety of journals.
Senior Vice President, Operations, Cascade Drilling, L.P.
Tim Cechini is Cascade Drilling’s Senior Vice President of Operations, Western Region. Tim’s deep technical experience includes a wide range of drilling technologies in diverse applications across environmental, infrastructure, geotechnical, geoconstruction and mining industries.
For more than twenty years, Tim has designed, implemented and managed thousands of drilling projects throughout the Western United States. One of Tim’s specialties is developing innovative solutions for complex drilling and abandonment projects using a wealth of technical expertise and practical knowledge.
As SVP of Operations, Tim works closely with clients to solve complex site challenges from lithology to restricted access. Tim manages a fleet of over 150 sonic, rotary, auger, direct push, diamond core drill rigs, specialty tooling, support equipment and 400 of the industry’s best drillers, technicians, mechanics, geologists, project managers and administrative personnel. Tim’s dedication to safety is backed by the company’s impeccable safety record OSHA TRIR <1.5 and EMR <0.8.
Tim holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Geology from Colorado State University and is a licensed Certified Well Installer with the National Ground Water Association.