AWWA Member Spotlight – Jeanine Dudle, Ph.D., P.E., Brookfield, Mass.
Job title and employer: Associate Professor, Civil & Environmental Engineering, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI)
Education: B.S., Civil Engineering, Cornell University; M.S., Environmental Engineering, and Ph.D., Civil Engineering, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Job duties: I teach undergraduate courses in environmental engineering and laboratory methods and advise student projects related to water quality and treatment. At the graduate level, I teach courses in water treatment, water chemistry and surface water quality modeling. My research focuses on water quality and the safety of drinking waters. I study water from source to tap: where do contaminants originate, what is their fate in the environment, how do we engineer treatment processes to protect public health? I also actively volunteer with AWWA, coordinate programs for new faculty at WPI and lead assessment activities for my department’s national accreditation.
How and why did you pursue a water-related career? I developed an interest in environmental engineering while an undergraduate at Cornell. I had the opportunity to participate in summer research focused on groundwater contaminant modeling funded by the National Science Foundation. I quickly discovered water quality was my passion and continued part-time research through my senior year while taking every environmental class I could find. My professors were amazing, and I wanted to learn everything, which meant continuing with graduate studies.
What led to your focus on drinking water quality? My graduate school advisor, Dr. James K. Edzwald, sparked my interest the first semester of my program. We had weekly talks about issues related to water quality and water treatment while deciding on a topic for my master’s thesis, and it really opened my eyes to the vast array of water issues. That was the year of the cryptosporidiosis outbreak in Milwaukee, Wis., and I worked on a project involving physical and chemical treatment methods for removing oocysts. It was really exciting to work on something so pertinent that had a direct impact on public health.
What do you enjoy most about reaching and research? I really enjoy working with students and seeing them find their passions. Not everyone I work with becomes an environmental engineer, and that’s ok! Every student needs something different as they navigate from high school to an adult professional. I get great satisfaction helping them gain knowledge and technical skills and also seeing them grow personally. It means so much to hear back from a student after a course or their graduation – to know that something I did or said helped them in some small way.
How have you benefited from being involved with AWWA? I joined AWWA as a graduate student and my first presentation at a national conference was at ACE in 1995. I was so nervous! Since then I’ve presented at and attended many AWWA conferences, which are a great source of information and the best place to network. I have colleagues throughout the country with whom I can share research ideas, exchange teaching tools and generally share knowledge. I can’t imagine being where I am today without AWWA. My students also greatly benefit from networking through AWWA, especially as they finish their degrees and begin looking for permanent employment.
I started as an AWWA volunteer with the University Student Activities Committee and have been since involved with research committees, Divisions and Councils. This has opened my eyes to the amazing work done by AWWA staff and volunteers and how the efforts of one, and the collective efforts of many, make an impact. As chair of the Technical & Educational Council during this unique time, when the ways we interact and communicate with colleagues have changed dramatically, I see myself and the Council helping develop new ways to share our collective knowledge for today and in the future.
What are some of your interests outside of work? I’m married to another AWWA member, Steven Dudle, and we live in a small town in central Massachusetts. We enjoy the outdoors as much as we can, skiing and snowshoeing in the winter and hiking and kayaking the rest of the year. We raise egg-laying chickens and plant an extensive garden. I ride horses and have two – a retired thoroughbred racer and a Clydesdale-paint cross. I’m also an avid reader – my family and friends are always giving me new books to try.
What is something people would be surprised to know about you? I was certified as a scuba diver in 2018. My sister wanted to go diving in Belize! It’s another connection I have with water.