Cochrane Fellowship Fund

Established in 2017 by Dr. John J. Cochrane, Professor Emeritus and former Department Chair of the Northeastern University Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, the Cochrane Fellowship Fund provides opportunities for doctoral students to explore cutting edge research and education at Northeastern University. The fellowship provides select students studying in the area of Environmental Engineering or Science full funding for the first academic year, allowing them to conduct research and progress in their coursework while working toward their PhD with their faculty advisors.

Cochrane Fellows
From left to right, Professor Ed Beighley, 2021 Fellow Beth Bartuska, John J. Cochrane, 2021 Fellow Begum Erdincler, and Professor Philip Larese-Casanova.

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Melanie Marino

Melanie Marino graduated from Walla Walla University in 2023 with a B.S. degree in Civil Engineering and a Global Humanitarian Engineering Emphasis. During her undergraduate studies, she was active in Engineers Without Borders, serving as a project manager for a water supply project in Tanzania. Wanting to combine her civil engineering background and passions for environmental sustainability and public service, Melanie was drawn to pursue a Ph.D. in Civil and Environmental Engineering. To further her interdisciplinary knowledge, she also plans to complete an MS in Engineering and Public Policy along the way. Melanie is working with Dr. Matthew Eckelman, looking at sustainability in the health sector and the inextricable link between planetary and human health.

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Amanda Thomas

Amanda Thomas, originally from Brooklyn, New York, is a 2021 graduate of Stony Brook University where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Coastal Environmental Studies with a minor in Environmental Engineering. While at Stony Brook, Amanda interned at Mote’s International Center for Coral Reef Research and Restoration in the Ocean Acidification program. She then obtained an internship at the Stony Brook Civil Engineering laboratories and participated in research assessing nitrogen removal in biochar amended filters as well as evaluating the sorption of PFAS onto granular activated carbon (GAC). After graduating, Amanda worked as a research technician at the Center for Clean Water Technology. She continued the experiments pertaining to short-chain PFAS removal from water matrixes as well as collecting surface tension data. During this time, she also worked at Stony Brook as an adjunct professor teaching undergraduate biology labs. Amanda is currently working with Professor Akram Alshawabkeh and the PROTECT Center to develop a portable electro-oxidation drinking water treatment system for removing contaminants that pose a significant health risk to communities in Puerto Rico.

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Kyla Drewry

Kyla Drewry graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2022 with a B.S.E. in Environmental Engineering. Her undergraduate research focused on snow and precipitation impact on streamflow dynamics in New England. She was active in the UConn chapters of Society for Women Engineers and Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society. In 2021, she participated in the University of Florida SURF Undergraduate Research experience program where she worked on modeling atmospheric secondary organic aerosols. Kyla also worked as a hydrologic technician intern at the United States Geological Survey. At Northeastern, Kyla is working with Dr. Kelsey Pieper to characterize well water contamination after flooding events.

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Colin Richardson

Originally from Lower Merion, PA, Colin Richardson is a 2019 graduate of the State University of New York College of Environmental Science & Forestry (ESF) where he obtained his bachelor’s degree in Environmental Resources Engineering and minors in Renewable Energy and Mathematics. While at ESF, Colin acted as an officer/backpacking trip leader in the Bob Marshall Club, a member of Engineers without Borders, and performed undergraduate research related to the water balance of the Great Lakes and the State of New York Reimagine the Canals Initiative. He was awarded the ESF National Scholarship, and upon graduation, was recognized as the Environmental Resources Engineering Departmental Scholar. Post-graduation, Colin worked in New York State as a civil engineer focused on stormwater management before moving to Boston in the summer of 2022. At Northeastern, Colin is working with Dr. Ed Beighley on a project supported by the NASA Water Resources program. His research is focused on modeling drinking water contamination in private wells related to surface water flooding. In his free time, he enjoys hiking, baking, and traveling.

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Begum Erdincler

Begum Erdincler graduated from Sabanci University (Istanbul, Turkey) with a B.S. degree in Industrial Engineering. Wanting to advance in green engineering and sustainability, she continued her studies and received her M.S. degree from the Institute of Environmental Sciences at Bogazici University (Istanbul, Turkey). Her master’s thesis, “Techno-Economic Assessment of an Integrated Algal Biorefinery” focused on the sustainability and feasibility of a biorefinery producing bio-jet fuel and multiple value-added bioproducts. In her Ph.D. at Northeastern University, Erdincler is working with Dr. Philip Larese-Casanova on the removal, techno-economic analysis and life cycle assessment of organic pollutants in the explosives industry wastewaters.

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Beth Bartuska

Beth Bartuska is a 2021 graduate of Penn State University’s Schreyer Honors College where she majored in Biological Engineering with a specialization in Natural Resources Engineering. During her time at Penn State she researched modeling concentrated flow pathways within riparian zones of agricultural landscapes and their potential impacts, and additionally assisted in research on crop evapotranspiration. She also served as the Director of Student Affairs on the Council of Commonwealth Student Governments, President of Alpha Epsilon Honors Society, and Vice-President of Penn State’s student branch of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers. At Northeastern, she is a co-chair on the College of Engineering PhD Council. She conducts research under Dr. Ed Beighley and Dr. Kelsey Pieper on remote sensing of floods and associated impacts on communities.

Ben Eck

A Massachusetts native, Ben graduated from MIT with a B.S. in Environmental Engineering and a minor in Mechanical Engineering. Combining these two fields, Ben spent the last several years in the industry implementing sensor networks for water quality monitoring and control. Recognizing that both data methods and novel sensor fabrication technologies will be necessary to enable transformative distributed water quality sensing, Ben joined Northeastern’s Civil and Environmental Engineering department to pursue a PhD in Civil Engineering with a concentration in Data and Systems. Ben works with Assistant Professor Amy Mueller on developing game-changing nitrate sensors for coastal water quality and aquaculture monitoring.

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Michelle O’Donnell

Michelle O’Donnell is a Northeastern graduate (BS Environmental Science, 2016), and as an undergraduate did co-ops with the Massachusetts Division of Ecological Restoration in the River Instream Flow Stewards program, the USGS in the New England Water Science Center, and the Coastal Systems Group at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. After graduating, Michelle worked as the Watershed Management Assistant at the Cambridge Water Department, where she monitored water quality and quantity to inform reservoir management decisions. Most recently, she completed her MS in Civil Engineering at the University of Colorado Boulder with Dr. Ben Livneh investigating how changes in snowpack in the West will impact warm-season streamflow. As a PhD in Civil Engineering student working with Dr. Samuel Munoz, Michelle is focusing on integrating paleoflood records with hydrologic models. She is also an NSF GRFP recipient.

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Max Rome

A PhD candidate working under Dr. Ed Beighley. He is interested in understanding eutrophication and translating ecological research into tools that can be used by environmental engineers for better managing aquatic pollution. Max is working to design and permit a prototype floating wetland that will be installed on the Charles River in the spring of 2020. He hopes that data collected from this project can be used to evaluate existing regulatory models and to understand the role that restored habitat can have in controlling toxic algal blooms. Max grew up in Cambridge and enjoys cycling, cooking, and gardening.

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Alanna Sparagna

Alanna Sparagna attended Smith College in Northampton, MA, graduating in 2015 with a Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry and French. While attending Smith, she served as a Student Researcher in Aqueous Geochemistry and Environmental Analytical Chemistry, as a Student Liaison for the French Department, and as a Representative of the Social Justice and Equity Committee. Upon graduation, she worked as a Chemist for Nalas Engineering Services Inc., and later as a Pretreatment Manager and Lab Technician for the town of Wareham’s Water Pollution Control Facility. She is a member of Sigma Xi, a science research honors society.

At Northeastern, Alanna works with her advisor, Assistant Professor Loretta Fernandez, in the Environmental Organic Chemistry Laboratory. They study the ways in which man-made chemical contaminants accumulate and move through the environment.

Michael Knapp

Graduating in 2018, Michael Knapp double majored in Environmental Engineering and Political Science at Clarkson University in Potsdam, New York. While completing his undergraduate degree, he worked as a Student Assistant to the Design Group for the New York Department of Transportation, where he assisted with wetland delineations and redesigned aspects of existing sidewalks to meet regulatory standards. He interned for the Mohawk Valley Water Authority in Potsdam, NY and served as a tutor to fellow students at his university. Michael completed his Eagle Scout Service Project in 2014.

At Northeastern, Michael studies environmental engineering and environmental health under the direction of his PhD advisors, Assistant Professor Loretta Fernandez and Associate Professor Philip Larese-Casanova.

2017 Cohort

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Katherine Vilardi

A Rhode Island native, Katherine Vilardi graduated from the Wentworth Institute of Technology with a Civil Engineering degree in 2017. While at Wentworth, she was a member of the Women’s Institute of Leadership Development and the Wentworth Leadership Institute, as well as the philanthropy committee head for the Phi Sigma Pi Honors Fraternity. She worked extensively in undergraduate research at Wentworth, and held positions at the Harvard School of Public Health and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation. She was an honorable mention for the National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship.

Currently, Katherine works with Dr. Ameet Pinto’s lab, focusing on environmental microbiology. She is a member of Graduate Women in Science and Engineering, as well as Students of Environmental and Water Resources Engineering, Research, and Sustainability.

Cassandra Nickles

Hailing from Los Angeles, CA, Cassandra Nickles graduated Loyola Marymount University with a Civil Engineering degree and a minor in Applied Mathematics in 2017. While at Loyola, she served as President of the American Society of Civil Engineers, was a member of the Marians Service Organization, and was an active undergraduate researcher in their labs. She was awarded the College Scholar Award for the Frank R. Seaver College of Science and Engineering, as well as the Seaver College of Science and Engineering 2017 Jerome K. Doolan Award, a 2017 Presidential Citation, and the Slattery-Burns Engineering Full Scholarship Recipient

Currently, Cassandra works with Dr. Ed Beighley on a project supported by NASA’s SWOT program. They plan to launch a satellite in 2021 that will analyze the Earth’s surface water, enabling hydrologic discovery, model advancements and new applications currently not possible or conceivable. She is an active volunteer at the local Boys and Girls Club, and this is her first year in the PhD program at Northeastern University.

John J. Cochrane

John Cochrane

Dr. Cochrane graduated from Northeastern University in 1960 with a B.S. degree in Civil Engineering. He earned his M.S. and Ph.D. at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and returned to join the College of Engineering faculty in 1965, and remained a professor at the College for 30 years. He served as chair of the department from 1977 to 1980 and retired as Professor Emeritus in 2000. As a licensed professional engineer, he consulted on a number of environmental engineering projects in the Northeast. Throughout his career, Dr. Cochrane was active in professional societies including the Boston Society of Civil Engineers, the New England Water Environment Association, and the New England Waterworks Association. Those in our community who worked with Dr. Cochrane during his tenure at Northeastern will remember him to be an avid skier and sailboat racer, two activities that he continues to be involved with today.