LEADERSHIP 2015-2016


Alexis Fischer


Alexis Fischer is a Ph.D. candidate in Biological Oceanography in the MIT-Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Joint Program. Her research focuses on harmful algal blooms (“red tides”) , and in particular how warming temperatures will affect the timing and intensity of blooms. She is interested in entrepreneurship and finding solutions to problems at the intersection of public health and water resource management.

 Email  |  Website  |  WHOI Profile  |  Twitter  |  LinkedIn



Matthew Willner


Matthew is a Master of City Planning candidate at MIT, focusing on climate change adaptation and the resilience of urban drinking water systems. Prior to arriving at MIT, Matthew was an energy and environment policy aide to both the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee’s Democratic Staff and Senator Edward J. Markey (D-MA). A graduate of Oberlin College, Matthew is currently also a Fellow in the MIT Office of Sustainability, and is working with the Institute to develop its first campus-wide climate change vulnerability assessment.

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Isadora Cruxen

Co-Vice President & Communications Director

Isadora is a Master in City Planning candidate at MIT, focusing on the role of civil society organizations and grassroots movements in promoting sustainable water resources management in the Global South.  Prior to MIT, Isadora worked as a research assistant at the Institute for Applied Economic Research in Brazil on projects about public participation in policy development. She was also involved in organizing and facilitating participatory processes, such as the International Children and Youth Conference “Let’s Take Care of the Planet” and the elaboration of Brazil’s Plan of Action for the Open Government Partnership. 

Email  |  Twitter  |  LinkedIn


Brendan Smith

Co-Vice President & Financial Director

Brendan is a third year PhD student in the Materials Science and Engineering program. His research focuses on the development of energy efficient water filtration membranes for desalination and other water treatment applications. One of his main goals is to bridge the gap between emerging disruptive water treatment technologies and the real world applications in which they can make a difference. He is also very interested in conservation, sustainability, and environmental policy!

Email  |   LinkedIn

Reetik Kumar Sahu

MIT Water Summit Director

Reetik is a Masters student in the Center for Computational Engineering at MIT. His current research focuses on applying real time predictive control to hydro-reservoirs to negotiate optimal power contracts. He is interested in defining operating policies and clarifying the various impacts, that consider both economic benefits and environmental costs. Prior to MIT, he received a Bachelor’s in mechanical engineering from IIT Madras, India.

Email  |  LinkedIn


Anjuli Jain Figueroa

MIT Water Summit Content Director

Anjuli Jain Figueroa is a PhD candidate in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at MIT. Her research focuses on resource management and hydrology, particularly looking at the competition for water when it is scarce and the tradeoffs that exist among different water uses. Anjuli also investigates the intersection of water and agriculture. Anjuli has a MS. in Technology and Policy from MIT and a B.S.E in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of Michigan. She has also worked as an environmental engineering consultant in Washington DC and New York.

Email  |  McLaughlin Group Profile  |  LinkedIn


Peter Chamberlain

MIT Water Innovation Prize Director

Peter is a graduate student at MIT in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and the Laboratory for Manufacturing and Productivity. His research combines traditional feedback control systems with a cutting-edge automated manufacturing system for microfluidic devices. He is a founder of Auto-Pilot Medical Technologies, which seeks to aid in the rehabilitation process for ambulatory injuries by using automated personal technology. He is also the director of the 2016 MIT Water Innovation Prize, which awarded $20,000 in innovation grants to water-related startups in its inaugural year. Peter enjoys participating in musical ensembles and is a published choral composer whose works have been performed all around the country. As an alumnus of the University of Portland and an Oregon native, he is an avid fan of Oregon sports team and enjoys playing soccer, basketball, and tennis.



Katie O'Connor

Lecture Series Co-Chair

Katie is a Master’s candidate in the System Design and Management program jointly offered by the MIT School of Engineering and the MIT Sloan School of Management. She currently serves as a fellow for the Waste Management contest of the Climate CoLab program, and is part of the ED4India team that received second place in MIT’s inaugural Water Innovation Prize. Prior to MIT, Katie worked as a licensed remediation engineer and project manager. Her projects ranged from small emergency response actions to long-standing Superfund remedial design, all focusing on addressing contamination in soil, groundwater and/or surface water. She received a B.S. in Civil/Environmental Engineering from Lafayette College.

Email  |  LinkedIn


Divya Panchanathan

Lecture Series Co-Chair

Divya is a graduate student in Mechanical Engineering and she is working on developing coatings and membranes for oil-water separation. Her aim is to find solutions to water related problems using materials technology. Prior to MIT, she completed her Bachelor studies in Mechanical Engineering at Indian Institute of Technology Madras.

Email  |  Website  |  LinkedIn

Deepa Rao

Lunch and Learn Chair

Deepa is a graduate student in Biological Oceanography at the MIT-WHOI Joint Program for Oceanography, where she focuses on modeling the microbial ecology of the ocean. Another one of her missions is to better communicate ocean science to the public. She received a B.S. in Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Science from MIT. Prior to returning to Cambridge, Deepa spent two years in Washington D.C. getting her M.A. in Communication, Culture, and Technology from Georgetown University. She enjoys outdoor adventures, nature documentaries, and watercoloring.

Krithika Ramchander

MIT Water Night Co-Director

Krithika is a Master’s student in the Mechanical Engineering Department currently working on the development of water filters using plant tissue. She is also a fellow with the TATA Center for Technology and Design. Prior to MIT, Krithika worked with Shell for a year and completed her Bachelor’s from Indian Institute of Technology Delhi.

Email  |  Tata Center Profile  |  LinkedIn 

David Warsinger

MIT Water Night Co-Director

David is a PostDoc in Professor Lienhard’s research group, where he does research in efficiency and membrane fouling of the desalination technology membrane distillation. David enjoys teaching and mentoring students, and finds research opportunities with many undergraduate students. David is a coauthor of 20 completed or ongoing conference and journal papers, and 10 patents. He completed his graduate studies at MIT and Cornell in a combined 3 years. David has also cofounded Coolify, a national-award winning startup providing cold storage to the developing world.

Email  |  Website


Leonardo Banchik

Strategic Advisor

Leo is a PhD candidate and NSF Graduate Research Fellow who is aiming to improve the performance of membrane-based desalination technologies. As a Master’s student, he studied osmotic mass exchangers for use in desalination, energy recovery, and power production. Prior to joining the group, Leo worked at two national labs; received a B.S. in mechanical engineering from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas; and received an M.S. from MIT in 2013.

Email  |  LinkedIn


Neha Mehta

Strategic Advisor

Neha is a graduate student in the Technology and Policy Program at MIT and currently pursuing research in the field of wastewater treatment in oil and gas industry. Prior joining MIT, she completed her master’s at University of California Berkeley in Chemical Engineering. Later she joined a California start-up developing membrane system for water purification. At MIT, she has been actively involved in organizing panels and lecture series related to water research and energy. She is also founder of MIT start-up Samperk, which aims to provide clean drinking water in rural India.