Plenary Speakers

Dan Costa

Dan Costa is currently the National Program Director (NPD) for the Air Climate & Energy Research Program (ACE).  Dan earned his B.S. in Biology / Chemistry from Providence College, RI, an M.S. in Environmental Sciences from Rutgers, an M.S. and a Sc.D. (doctor of science) in Physiology / Toxicology from the Harvard School of Public Health.  He previously served as NPD for the Clean Air Research Program and was Chief of the Pulmonary Toxicology Branch of the National Health and Environmental Research Laboratory (NHEERL) for 18 years, where he led an active group investigating the health effects of ozone, particulate matter as well as other air pollutants.  He is a Diplomat and Past-President of the American Board of Toxicology and is Past-President of the Inhalation and Respiratory Specialty Section of the Society of Toxicology.   He has authored / co-authored more than 160 refereed publications, 4 book editorships, and over 30 book chapters, conference proceedings and monographs. He maintains his involvement in research mainly focusing on the role of lung derived neurogenic modulation of cardiac function and response the impact of various stressors in animal models of cardiopulmonary disease. 

Dan is the father of five grown children and has 3 ½ grandchildren. Through them he has had a continued role in sports and other activities, and he stays active as a high school basketball referee, playing basketball, and coaching a Special Olympics basketball team. He has carried the lessons learned on team principles from these experiences to his workplace.

Plenary Title: The Intersecting Realities of Air Science and Policy: Looking Through the EPA Prism

Plenary Abstract:

Few would argue that clean air is not important to both human and environmental wellbeing. However, for many decades smoke billowing from industrial centers and, more recently, a complex highway network around an urban center were the hallmarks of prosperity. However, as the public came to appreciate the negatives of dirty air, they came to demand to their governments that the air had to be cleaned, and they truly believed that it could be had concurrent with prosperity and jobs. Policies evolved to achieve this end and evidentiary science underpinned policies and decisions while at the same time, promoting innovative technologies. The flow of information from the science to policy was, of course, perceived through political and economic lenses, which was brought tensions that exist to this day. Nevertheless, air quality has made major gains over time as has overall economic health. Through this period, air pollution and perceptions thereof have evolved, with sulfur oxides and ozone each having their day “in the light” supplanted by acid rain and then particulate matter coming of age and revolutionizing how we see air pollution and its impacts. Health concerns extended beyond the lungs to the cardiovascular and now perhaps the nervous system. The air is largely clear and the public doesn’t think much about air pollution anymore. But now we are coming to realize even more the complexity of the issues when we see the climate evolving in myriad ways, and perhaps challenging our simplified technical approaches to resolution. Multidisciplined science, inclusive of technical, social and political endeavors, must collaborate to inform cogent policies in the quest a healthy and prosperous environmental future.
Bob Dixson

Bob Dixson is a native Kansan and has been a resident of Greensburg since 1985. Dixson took office as mayor of Greensburg in May 2008 and he is leading the way in rebuilding Greensburg following the May 4, 2007, EF5 tornado that destroyed 95 percent of the community. Sustainable building, renewable energy and “green” technologies are the cornerstones of the recovery of Greensburg. Community involvement and public/private partnerships have been essential in the recovery efforts. Mayor Dixson has presented to groups around the world on post-disaster recovery and sustainability.

Plenary speech titled: Post Disaster Sustainable Redevelopment

Plenary abstract: Presentation will focus on our Planning and Sustainable redevelopment following the May 4, 2007 EF-5 tornado that destroyed 95% of Greensburg, KS. I will discuss the recovery, planning process and the implementation of our Sustainable Master Plan and how we used green and sustainable practices. Renewable energy, LEED building certification, and Environmental Stewardship were our focus to build a community for future generations.

Dr. SHawn McElmurry

Dr. Shawn McElmurry, Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Wayne State University. His research focuses on the fate and transport of pollutants in urban systems and developing new methods and techniques for the detection, quantification and treatment of organic and inorganic constituents. Specific topics of interest include: the influence of land use on surface water quality; assessing the role of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) plays in the transport and toxicity of trace metals and organic pollutants; evaluating the impact of decaying urban infrastructure on human health; assessing the behavior of emerging contaminants, and; developing new analytical techniques that can be used for micro-devices which will allow for real-time, in-situ measurement of chemical constituents.


His plenary speech is titled "TBA" Abstract:TBA

Harsha Ratnaweera

Prof. Harsha Ratnaweera is the Head of Research at the Faculty of Sciences and Technology, Norwegian University of Life Sciences since 2012. He has also worked at the Norwegian Institute for Water Research ( for 20 years as the Director of International Projects and Innovation. Prof. Ratnaweera represents Norway at the Council of the European Water Association and serves as Chairman/Board Member in several water and environment related organizations in Norway. He has been a member of the Norwegian National Commission for UNESCO.

Plenary title: Urban Environment: Sustainable Solutions for Water

Plenary abstract: Water supply and wastewater management in urban areas are already under pressure duBoe to increasing population, backlog of infrastructure rehabilitation needs, lack of resources and pressures to meet increasing water supply expectations from inhabitants and authorities. Climate Change impacts make these challenges even more critical. Finding innovative solutions that are economical, technologically feasible and sustainable are the focus of many ongoing R&D activities. The use of Sustainable Urban Drainage System (SuDS) and intelligent solutions to unveil hidden reserve volumes in integrated sewer systems are potential solutions. They are promising examples that will not only reduce storm water overflows and flood events but will also enable increasing the treatment efficiencies at wastewater treatment plants.