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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

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 (AUB).

 


Rewa Phansalkar

Research and Outreach Specialist
Email: rp589@cornell.edu

Rewa is an urban planner, architect and researcher based in Ithaca, New York. She obtained her Bachelor of Architecture in 2017 from Academy of Architecture, Mumbai, after which she worked as a project architect and researcher at Case Design, Mumbai and the School of Environment and Architecture (SEA) before pursuing a master’s degree in Regional Planning at Cornell University. Her undergraduate thesis, 'Storytelling through Architecture,' won the National Association of Students of Architecture's Ethos trophy for academic excellence, and she later received the John Reps Pioneer award for her master’s Exit Project on Indigenous Adaptation Approaches in the U.S Pacific Northwest, and the Mellon Collaborative Fellowship for studies in Architecture, Urbanism and the Humanities. In the past, she has worked with the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat, NYS Water Resources Institute at Cornell and Urbz Research Collective based in Dharavi, Mumbai - on projects that integrate sustainable urban design, policy and governance planning for community resilience. She has contributed to publications such as Indian Architect and Builder and the Council of Architecture India newsletter, and is interested in map-making, graphic communication, and spatial and inferential statistics for climate adaptation planning. Long term, she aims to pursue a career in international development, with a focus on designing and planning for coastal communities and cultural landscapes in the wake of climate change.


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: Buffalo

Ryan Elliott

Western Great Lakes Watershed Coordinator
Telephone: 716-851-7018
Email: Ryan.Elliott@dec.ny.gov

Ryan works as the Western Great Lakes Watershed Coordinator for the NYSDEC and WRI. Ryan earned a B.S. in Environmental Studies from Binghamton University and an M.S. in Lake Management from SUNY College at Oneonta.  Ryan has a variety of experiences that make him well-suited for the interdisciplinary nature of his job.  Prior to joining the WRI team, Ryan worked with the Catskill and Western New York Partnerships for Regional Invasive Species Management, NYSDEC, and private environmental consulting firms.  Ryan resides in Buffalo, NY and is excited to see his work with WRI improve the communities in the Buffalo area and the entire Great Lakes Basin.  Ryan’s areas of interest are biomanipulation, fisheries, invasive species, resiliency, and environmental outreach and education.  When he is not working Ryan enjoys hiking, camping, fishing, and identifying plants.


Lindsay Yoder

Aquatic Invasive Species Coordinator, DEC Region 9
Telephone: (716) 851-7114
Email: Lindsay.Yoder@dec.ny.gov

Lindsay serves as the Aquatic Invasive Species Program Coordinator for NYS DEC Region 9 out of Buffalo. She first began working with aquatic invasive species in 2017 as the Assistant AIS Program Manager for the Lower Hudson Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management (PRISM) before assuming the role of AIS Program Coordinator in 2018 and establishing a rigorous program focused on monitoring, management, and education of invasive species in the Hudson Valley. She is excited to bring her experience to Western New York and the lower Great Lakes and strengthen the capacity for early detection and rapid response of emerging AIS threatening the health of the region through collaboration with NGOs, municipal, state, and federal agencies, and local stakeholders. Lindsay has a B.S. in Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences from Oregon State University, where she focused on aquatic ecology and fisheries biology, and is primarily interested in the impacts of AIS on community dynamics in freshwater systems.


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.

 


Jesenia Laureano

Climate Adaptation Planning Specialist
Email: jesenia.laureano@dec.ny.gov

Jesenia serves as the Climate Adaptation Planning Specialist in the NYS DEC Hudson River Estuary Program (HREP). She supports communities and partners in the Hudson Valley to adapt to climate change and build resiliency through planning support, capacity building, and collaborative research. Jesenia loves to go hiking, do puzzles, and travel around the world in her free time. She received a Bachelor of Science in Coastal Environmental Studies from Stony Brook University. 


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.