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Current Staff

 

Brian G Rahm

Director
Telephone: 607-254-7163
Email: bgr4@cornell.edu
Primary Location: Ithaca (WRI)

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
Primary Location: Ithaca (WRI)

Rassil’s work with WRI is focused on programs relating to drinking water quality and wastewater infrastructure. She also provides support for grants and outreach services. Her previous research included work on iodinated disinfection by-products 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.

 


Ingrid Vianna Sydenstricker

Policy & Environmental Justice Analyst
Email: ies25@cornell.edu
Primary Location: Ithaca (WRI)

Ingrid (she/her) supports WRI’s environmental justice (EJ) efforts by helping to mainstream EJ across projects, build internal capacity, and create new projects specifically focusing on equity and justice. Ingrid also works with teams to navigate policy questions and stay afloat of changing environmental policies. Prior to joining WRI, she was a paralegal at the New York Civil Liberties Union (ACLU of New York) where she supported litigation, advocacy, and public education efforts on various issues including immigration, labor, and transgender rights. Ingrid is originally from São Paulo, Brazil (Tupi land) and grew up in gorges Ithaca, NY (Gayogohó:no’ land). She holds a B.A. from the University of Chicago.


Christopher Bowser

Education and Citizen Science
Email: chris.bowser@dec.ny.gov
Primary Location: Norrie Point (HREP)

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. 


Scott Cuppett

Watershed Management
Telephone: 845-256-3029
Email: scott.cuppett@dec.ny.gov
Primary Location: New Paltz (HREP)

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
Primary Location: New Paltz (HREP)

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.

 


Maija Liisa Niemisto

Education and Citizen Science
Telephone: 845-889-4745
Email: maija.niemisto@dec.ny.gov
Primary Location: Norrie Point (HREP)

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.


Beth Roessler

Tributary Conservation Specialist
Telephone: 845-256-2253
Email: beth.roessler@dec.ny.gov
Primary Location: New Paltz (HREP)

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
Primary Location: New Paltz (HREP)

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. 


Clif StaplesClif Staples

Climate Change Specialist
Email: clifton.staples@dec.ny.gov
Primary Location: New Paltz (HREP)

Originally from Maine, Clif started working at WRI in 2019 researching flood risk with the Climate Change Program. During this time, he has worked with the NYS DEC Hudson River Estuary Program on improving resilience to climate change in the Hudson Valley.  As part of this work, Clif has worked closely with the Office of Climate Change Climate Smart Communities project where he co-chairs the equity and climate justice working group. His interests include climate change communications and interdisciplinary problem solving. 


Katherine Czajkowski

Mohawk Watershed Coordinator
Telephone: 518-402-8251
Email: katherine.czajkowski@dec.ny.gov
Primary Location: Albany (MRBP)

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.