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Current Staff

Location: Ithaca (WRI)

Brian G Rahm

Director
Telephone: 607-254-7163
Email: bgr4@cornell.edu

From upstate NY, Brian started with NYSWRI in 2010 by focusing on the intersection of engineering, science, and policy associated with potential shale gas extraction in New York state. He has since worked on water resource infrastructure management and policy more generally, and enjoys the challenge of addressing the state's water issues via interdisciplinary research, institutional capacity building, and local stakeholder engagement.  


Kristen Hychka

Research and Outreach Specialist
Email: kch235@cornell.edu
Primary Location: Ithaca (WRI)

Kristen’s research and outreach focuses on watershed issues, particularly flood resiliency and the management of wetland and riparian systems. She works in partnership with the Syracuse University Environmental Finance Center and the Hudson River Estuary Program to promote statewide assistance to individuals and organizations regarding these issues.


Rassil Sayess

Research and Outreach Specialist
Email: re232@cornell.edu

Rassil’s work with WRI is focused on issues relating to water quality and micropollutants in drinking water. She also provides support for grants and outreach services with utilities across the state. Her previous research included work on iodinated disinfection by-products (DBPs) and other emerging contaminants in drinking water. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts – Amherst, and her M.Sc. and B.Sc. degrees from the American University of Beirut.


Seth Lutter

Program/ Extension Aide III
Email: shl72@cornell.edu

Seth provides support for WRI research and extension efforts across the state. He has a research background in conservation social science, and is a local to the Ithaca area. Outside of work, he enjoys canoeing, sailing, and playing with his dog.

 


Val Z. Schull

Research and Outreach Specialist
Email: vzs2@cornell.edu

Val's research interests are in agricultural water resources management, hydrological modeling, environmental justice, and the Food-Energy-Water nexus. Outside of work, they enjoy gardening and power-lifting.

 


Location: Albany (MBRP)

Katherine Czajkowski

Mohawk Watershed Coordinator
Telephone: 518-402-8251
Email: katherine.czajkowski@dec.ny.gov

Kathy serves as the Mohawk Watershed Coordinator, assisting NYS DEC with coordination and implementation of the Mohawk River Basin Program and Mohawk River Basin Action Agenda. In this capacity, she works with the partners and stakeholders of the watershed to achieve the goals and objectives of the Action Agenda, focused on conserving, preserving and restoring the Mohawk River and its watershed. Kathy holds a degree in Regional and Urban Planning from the State University of New York at Albany with a concentration in environmental and land use planning.


Location: New Paltz (HREP)

Beth Roessler

Tributary Conservation Specialist
Telephone: 845-256-2253
Email: beth.roessler@dec.ny.gov

Beth’s focus is outreach on stream corridor restoration and protection. She coordinates the Hudson Estuary Trees for Tribs program, working with non-profits, municipalities, private landowners and volunteers on streamside tree plantings and other projects aimed at protecting the water quality in the tributary streams of the Hudson River.

 


Libby Zemaitis

Climate Change Program Coordinator
Telephone: 845-256-3153
Email: libby.zemaitis@dec.ny.gov

Libby Zemaitis leads the Climate Change Program at the NYS DEC Hudson River Estuary Program. Her team helps communities adapt to climate change and build resiliency to flooding, heat and social risks using nature-based solutions, in collaboration with the DEC Office of Climate Change and other state agency and non-profit partners. The Climate Change team is committed to incorporating environmental justice into their work and the state's Climate Smart Communities program. Libby grew up in the Hudson Valley where she has spent the last 15 years working on climate change, clean tech and sustainable business. She did her M.B.A. in Strategic Management and M.S. in Climate Science and Policy from Bard College, and a B.A. in Geology from Vassar College. 


Lyndsey Cooper

Climate Outreach Specialist
Telephone: 845-256-3017
Email: Lyndsey.Cooper@dec.ny.gov

Lyndsey serves as the Climate Outreach Specialist at the NYS DEC Hudson River Estuary Program. She supports communities in the Hudson Valley to adapt to climate change and build resiliency through community planning, ecological solutions, and collaborative design. She comes to this position from the non-profit world where she served as a community organizer, guiding parents to take climate action. Outside of work, she loves biking, cooking, playing video games, and making digital art. Lyndsey holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the State University of New York at New Paltz. 


Scott Cuppett

Watershed Management
Telephone: 845-256-3029
Email: scott.cuppett@dec.ny.gov

Scott leads a watershed management and outreach team in the Hudson River Estuary, which includes much of the Hudson Valley between Troy and NYC.  The watershed team works with municipalities, nonprofits, NYSDEC, regional environmental groups, and landowners to implement strategies and best management practices that protect and restore Hudson River tributaries, drinking water supplies, and the Hudson Estuary.  When not at work, Scott enjoys  spending as much time as he can outdoors, especially kayaking down mountain creeks and rivers.


Sherri Mackey

Administrative Assistant
Telephone: 845-256-3016
Email: sherri.mackey@dec.ny.gov

Sherri supports the WRI team as well as the Hudson River Estuary Program. When she is not working, she enjoys spending time with her family and volunteering with the local fire department where she also serves as their President.

 


Thomas Niekrewicz

Water Resource Specialist
Email: thomas.niekrewicz@dec.ny.gov

Tom focuses on assessing and characterizing water quality as well as identifying threats to the full use of the Hudson River Estuary and watershed. Working with NYS DEC, watershed communities, municipalities, and stakeholders, he helps develop and implement corrective actions to address impacts and concerns in the Hudson River and its tributaries. Off the clock, Tom enjoys staying active outside, especially hiking in the Catskills.


Location: Norrie Point (HREP)

Christopher Bowser

Education and Citizen Science
Email: chris.bowser@dec.ny.gov

Chris Bowser coordinates the education team at the NYSDEC Hudson River Estuary Program and Hudson River National Estuarine Research Reserve. This team implements citizen-science programs like the Eel Project and student initiatives like the Day in the Life of the Hudson and Harbor. Bowser’s other experiences include serving as reforestation volunteer with the Peace Corps in West Africa, working as education director for the Sloop Clearwater, and teaching environmental science at Marist and Bard Colleges. 


Maija Liisa Niemisto

Education and Community Science
Telephone: 845-889-4745
Email: maija.niemisto@dec.ny.gov

Maija grew up in Minnesota to a family of professional musicians. She attended University of Wisconsin-Madison and the American University of Beirut, as an undergraduate student of International Relations and Environmental Studies. It was through a United Nations Department of Environmental Protection internship in Lebanon, that she gained hands on experience and a passion for protecting wetland habitats. After graduating from university, Maija lived aboard a 28-foot sailboat and sailed the eastern seaboard, eventually discovering the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater. She joined the crew and education team of the environmental tall-ship and spent almost 10 years living on the Hudson and teaching about the tidal estuary. Maija then completed her graduate studies at Stonybrook University’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences with bioacoustic research of fish and zooplankton of the Hudson River Estuary. In 2019, she joined the Cornell University Water Research Institute and the NYSDEC at the Hudson River Estuarine Research Reserve.


Location: Watertown

Emily Fell (Sheridan)

Eastern Great Lakes Watershed Coordinator
Telephone: 315-785-2382
Email: Emily.Fell@dec.ny.gov

Emily works as the Eastern Great Lakes Watershed Coordinator for the NYSDEC and WRI. Her background is in natural resources management, and she received her B.S. from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. She has been with the NYSDEC and Natural Heritage Trust in this role for 7 years prior to joining WRI, and is excited to be a part of the WRI team. Emily grew up within communities in NY’s Great Lakes and enjoys working with communities and stakeholders to advance goals of NY’s Great Lakes Action Agenda, including water quality, natural resource management, invasive species, resiliency, and stewardship of recreational resources, and works closely with NY Sea Grant to promote Great Lakes Literacy and Stewardship under the Great Lakes Ecosystem Education Exchange. Emily enjoys visits to the beaches of Lake Ontario, hiking in the Adirondacks, and paddling or tubing within the many rivers and lakes of NY’s Great Lakes.