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Officers

President

Dr. David T. Tsao is the Americas Remediation Engineering and Technology Manager in BP’s Remediation Management function at their Naperville, IL office. He is responsible for a team of specialists coordinating, developing, and implementing the technical clean up strategies for a broad range of BP sites.  He is active in oil spill response planning and prevention, and lead the Bio-Chem Strike Team for the Deepwater Horizon response. He is also responsible for evaluating and minimizing the potential environmental impacts of new products and activities associated with unconventional and alternative energy sources.  David is a chemical engineering graduate of Purdue University (B.S., M.S., Ph.D) where his research included plant biotechnology, pharmaceutical production, and plant production for space (NASA) applications.  Upon graduating, David worked for Amoco specializing in the remediation of fuel oxygenates and the use of phytotechnologies for remediation and prevention.  He remains active in several remediation and restoration technology areas by actively developing, publishing research and technical guidance, and teaching these technologies.  He is a founding member in the International Phytotechnology Society and Senior Associate Editor of the International Journal of Phytoremediation. David serves on the Board of Advisors for the Interstate Technology and Regulatory Council, a U.S. regulatory association.

Immediate Past President

Dr. Jason C. White is the current President of the International Phytotechnology Society.  Dr. White’s full time position is as Vice Director and Chief Analytical Chemist at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station (CAES). Dr. White received his Ph.D. in Environmental Toxicology from Cornell University in 1997. After one year as a Post-Doctoral Associate at CAES, Dr. White joined the Department of Soil and Water in 1998. In 2009, he assumed the Department Head position in Analytical Chemistry and in 2013, was also appointed as Vice Director. The CAES Analytical Chemistry department provides sample analysis to all other state agencies, and also participates in the FDA Food Emergency Response Network (FERN) Chemistry Cooperative Agreement Program (cCAP).

Dr. White also has research programs in two separate areas; nanomaterial contamination of agricultural crops, as well as the phytoremediation of soils contaminated with persistent organic pollutants. Dr. White also has Adjunct Faculty Appointments at the University of Texas-El Paso, Quinnipiac University, the University of New Haven, and Post University. He currently resides in Prospect CT with his wife Michelle, and six children (ages 5-19).

Executive Vice President

Dr. Barbara Zeeb received her PhD from Queen’s University, Canada in 1994. She joined the Environmental Sciences Group (ESG) at the Royal Military College of Canada (RMC) in 1996 to co-ordinate environmental research projects, supervise graduate students, and manage environmental projects at numerous active and abandoned military installations across Canada. Since 1999, Dr. Zeeb has been involved in studies to phytoremediate heavy metals and organochlorines (in particular PCBs and DDT). Working with government agencies (Environment Canada, Ministry of Natural Resources, and US EPA), and contaminated site owners, she has worked to provide a realistic picture of the benefits (and pitfalls) of organochlorine phytoextraction. In January 2004 (and renewed in 2009) Dr. Zeeb was awarded a Canada Research Chair in Biotechnologies and the Environment at RMC in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, as well as Canada Foundation for Innovation Awards, to fund the creation of her analytical laboratory and purchase of a controlled plant growth chamber dedicated to biotechnological research. Recently she was awarded a second NSERC Collaborative Research and Development grant to expand her current work on biochar characterization and utilization for contaminant sorption at new field sites, including those impacted with high concentrations of salts. Dr. Zeeb is also an Adjunct Professor in the Departments of Biology and Environmental Sciences at Queen’s University, Canada and on two occasions she has participated in teaching mini-courses on phytoremediation to researchers and land owners in Eastern Europe.

Vice President

Dr. Om Parkash (Dhankher) received his PhD in Plant Molecular Biology from Durham University, Durham (United Kingdom) in 1998. He joined the department of Genetics as a senior postdoctoral research associate at the University of Georgia, Athens and later promoted to the Assistant Research Professor in 2002. Dr. Parkash joined the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences as an Assistant Professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2005 and is currently an Associate Professor in the Stockbridge School of Agriculture, University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He is serving as an Associate Editor for the Frontier’s Agricultural Biological Chemistry, International Journal of Plant Biology Research, and International J. of Plant and Environment; also serving on the Editorial board of International Journal of Phytoremediation. Prof. Parkash is a member of the International Phytotechnologies Society, American Society of Plant Biologists, Agrnomy Society of America and Crop Science Society of America. He has served a three-year term (2012-2015) in the Executive Committee of the American Society of Plant Biologists.

Dr. Parkash’s research focus includes the molecular and biochemical mechanistic studies of heavy metals and engineered nanoparticles uptake, transport, detoxification, and accumulation in food and non-food crops; engineering non-food high biomass plants with enhanced phytoremediation of heavy metals; engineering food crops to reduce the uptake of toxic metals in the food chain. His research team is also developing climate resilient crops via manipulating key pathways and network of genes responsible for enhanced tolerance to multiple abiotic and oxidative stresses and GSH homeostasis for improving crop yield under changing climate conditions. Additionally, his laboratory is involved in metabolic engineering of oil seed crops such as Camelina sativa, Crambe abyssinica and Brassica juncea for improved oil yields for biofuels production and specialized biopolymers for industrial uses. Prof. Parkash has extensively published his research findings in high profile journals including Nature Biotech, PNAS, The Plant Cell, Plant Physiology, New Phytologist, Plant Biotechnology J. etc. and has several patents awarded to him based on his research findings. His research has been widely publicized in numerous leading national and international newspapers and science magazines. Further details can be found at his weblink

Vice President

Dr. Liz Rylott has expertise in the remediation of organic and inorganic pollutants from soils by plants. More specifically this involves understanding, at the molecular and biochemical levels, how plants respond to and detoxify environmental pollutants. Her research focuses on explosive compounds, herbicides and metals, particularly nickel, gold and platinum group metals. Species studied include Arabidopsis, a model plant for molecular biology research, along with more phytoremediation-relevant plants such as switchgrass, willow, miscanthus and metal-hyperaccumulator species. The longer-term aims of the current research include developing uses for sustainably extracted metals (http://www.phytocat.org/) and GM-based technologies for the remediation of explosives from military ranges. Dr Rylott received her Ph.D. in Plant Genetics and Biochemistry from The John Innes Centre, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK in 1997. She is a member of the International Phytotechnology Society (IPS; secretary 2012-2015), the Society for Experimental Biology (SEB) and Royal Society of Biology (RSB) and a Scientific Advisor for Science and Plants for Schools (SAPS). Dr Rylott has extensively published her research findings in high profile journals including Science, Nature Biotech, PNAS, The Plant Cell, Plant Physiology and New Phytologist. Her research has been widely publicised in leading national and international newspapers and other media. Further details can be found on her website https://sites.google.com/a/york.ac.uk/liz-rylott/

Vice President

Mr. Walter H. Eifert is Principal Hydrologist/Vice President of ELM Site Solutions, Inc.  Mr. Eifert has over 33 years of experience in the environmental engineering/consulting field.  His major career emphasis has been the development and implementation of passive natural treatment technologies including constructed treatment wetlands (CTW’s), phytotechnologies, natural media filters (NMF’s), aerobic/anaerobic limestone drains, and low-impact technologies. His practical experience has resulted in successful projects not only in the US, but in countries such as Iceland, Saudi Arabia and Canada.  In 1999, Mr. Eifert was awarded a U.S. Patent for an Enhanced Subsurface Flow CTW (U.S. Patent No. 5,893,975) that focused on the aeration of a subsurface flow CTW treatment bed.  This innovation resulted in significant improvements to, and sustained performance of, subsurface flow CTW treatment systems.  It also achieved up to a 60 percent reduction in the footprint of a typical CTW system. Over his career, Walt has completed the design, installation and management of many cost-effective natural treatment system projects for clients such as BASF Corporation, Alcoa, ExxonMobil and BP.  These projects have resulted in millions of dollars in savings.  He has directed the installation of over 80,000 specialty trees (Phytoplots) at 15 sites in the US.  Additional applications have included landfill surfaces, hydraulic barriers along with in-situ soils and groundwater remediation sites.  His work with Alcoa has led to their receipt of three Global Achievement Awards for Engineered Natural Systems-based projects.  Mr. Eifert remains very active with the International Phytotechnology Society, having served on its Board of Directors and, currently, as a Vice President. Walt is a native of Hershey, Pennsylvania but has spent the last 28 years living with his wife Kim of 40 years, and three children (Adam, Erin and Molly) in the community of Whitings Neck, WV. Walt served in the US Air Force and was honorably discharged in 1974.   He holds a B.S. degree in Aquatic Biology/Chemistry (1980) and a Masters Degree in Hydrology (1982) both from the University of Wyoming.  His favorite hobbies are wood working, fishing and listening to his wife. 

Secretary

Elizabeth Guthrie Nichols is an Associate Professor in the Environmental Technology and Management Program, Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources at North Carolina State University.  She is also associate faculty with the NCSU Department of Environmental and Molecular Toxicology.  She has a M.Sc. and Ph.D. in Environmental Sciences and Engineering from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  Her research interests are focused on contaminant cycling and bioavailability in forest systems.  Her key interests are the protection of surface waters and groundwater quality point and non-point sources.  Key to this research is the use isotopic tracers to understand water resource use by trees, fate of contaminants in vegetated systems, and the use of trees to monitor and track subsurface contamination.  She also manages a research program to integrate biomass/bioenergy production with environmental protection on marginal lands. As an educator, she teaches undergraduate courses in Environmental Monitoring and Analysis, Environmental Forensics, Assessing Lands for Bioenergy, and the Practice of Environmental Technologies, a capstone senior undergraduate course.  She teaches a graduate online, distance education course in Environmental Monitoring for NC State’s online Masters of Environmental Assessment. She directs NC States online undergraduate certificate and minor in Renewable Energy Assessment. 

Treasurer

Dr. Stephen Ebbs is a native of Southern Illinois, but has lived throughout the United States. His undergraduate honor’s thesis from McKendree College was the first undergraduate thesis published in The Sigma Zetan, the official publication of the Sigma Zeta National Science and Mathematics Honor Society. After leaving McKendree College, Dr. Ebbs moved to Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, to begin his graduate studies in Environmental Toxicology. His Masters research was carried out at the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research on the Cornell campus under the supervision of the late Dr. Leonard Weinstein, examining a trace element interaction between selenium and arsenic in plants. His dissertation research was conducted at the U.S. Plant, Soil, and Nutrition Laboratory, USDA-ARS under the supervision of Dr. Leon Kochian. This research examined several facets of heavy metal and radionuclide phytoremediation, including the screening of plants for contaminant bioaccumulation and the use of soil amendments to increase solubility and plant uptake. The contaminants of focus were zinc, copper, radiocesiumand uranium. Dr. Ebbs followed with a two year post-doctoral position with Dr. Kochian, studying the mechanisms of transport and tolerance in the metal hyperaccumulator Thlaspi caerulescens. Dr. Ebbs accepted a tenure-track position in the Department of Plant Biology at Southern Illinois University in the fall of 1999. In August, 2004, Dr. Ebbs was promoted to Associate Professor. During his time at SIUC, Dr. Ebbs has held a three-year term adjunct appointment at Carnegie Mellon University, and has been a visiting professor at Purdue University (2002), the University of Melbourne (2005), and Cornell University (2006). Since 2008, Dr. Ebbs has served as the Assistant Chair of Plant Biology and has been networking with regional community colleges to aid with undergraduate recruiting. On November 1, 2011, Dr. Ebbs became the Interim Chair of the Department of Plant Biology. 

Research in his laboratory focuses on the interface between pollutants, plants, and the soil-water environment. This includes fundamental studies of plant uptake and transport of contaminants, physiological effects of pollutants on plants, interactions of pollutants with mineral nutrients, phytotoxicity, hyperaccumulation, tolerance, and detoxification. His work also focuses on the biogeochemistry of pollutants and their trophic transfer to wildlife and humans. The pollutants of primary interest include Cd, Zn, cyanide and metal cyanides, engineered nanoparticles, and automotive friction materials while past work has examined Au, Cu, Pb, As, Se, radionuclides (137Cs, 90Sr), and uranium. He also has a long standing interest in phytotechnologies such as phytoremediation, phytomining, and green roofs and conduct basic research that contributes to the development of those techniques.  He has served as the Senior Associate Editor for Inorganics for the International Journal of Phytoremediation since 2010.

Board of Directors

Dr. Louis A. Licht, Ecolotree; Illinois, USA

Ronald S. Zalesny Jr, PhD, Team Leader, Research Plant Geneticist, Institute for Applied Ecosystem Studies, US Forest Service; Rhinelander, Wisconsin, USA

Craig Just, Assistant Professor, Dept of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Iowa; Iowa City, Iowa, USA

Nele Weyens, University of Hasselt; Belgium

Elena Maestri, Professor, Universita’ Degli Studi di Parma; Parma, Italy

Matt Limmer, Post-Doctoral Researcher, University of Delaware; Newark, Delaware, USA

Renee Stoops, Ecological Horticulturist and Phytotechnology Educator, Plant Allies; Portland, Oregon, USA

Kate Kennan, RLA, Landscape Architect and President, Offshoots Inc; Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Dr. Jing Song, Associate Professor, Institute of Soil Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences; Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, P.R. China

Website Administrator

Renee Stoops is a clear and passionate ecological horticulturist and communicator specializing in bridging diverse scientific and spiritual dimensions for the purposes of applying practical strategies to our managed landscapes to provide ecosystem services-clean water, clean soil, clean air, and habitat and to re-balance the human relationship with the natural world. She is currently Owner and Principal at Plant Allies with her substantial academic, professional, and life experience in stormwater and wastewater treatment consulting, plant selection and management, writing, teaching, science translation, partnership building, wetland conservation/restoration/management, sustainable landscapes, and Plant Spirit Medicine (TM). Renee received her B.A. in Biology/ Geology from Brown University in 1994, and her M.S. in Plant Science from the University of Rhode Island in 1999. She recently developed, wrote curriculum, launched, and taught an Associates Degree Program in Phytotechnology at Chemeketa Community College- the only program of its kind in the country designed to train the workforce needed for expanding phytotechnology application and demand. Renee managed the Oregon Garden’s 17+acre constructed treatment wetlands for 12 years- a system that is unique in its integration of regulatory, science, and public botanical paradigms. From 2003-2012, she directed and managed all aspects of The Sustainable Plant Research and Outreach Center (SPROut). Her accomplishments with SPROut include innovative research with floating wetlands, notable publications (such as supplements to Sustainable Industries Journal), a regional phytotechnology conference called “Soak It Up‚” and hosting the 2011 IPS Conference in Portland, Oregon. She was a member of the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Advisory Committee to rewrite the regulations for Recycled Water use. She was one of the inaugural certified “Green Roof Professionals” by Green Roofs for Healthy Cities. In reference to the Oregon Garden wetlands and SPROut’s outreach efforts and in partnership with the City of Silverton, she won the “Sustainability Award” from the Pacific Northwest Clean Water Association at their 2009 annual conference. She has lectured and given keynote presentations for many different industries and continues to actively seek out opportunities for technology transfer from science to landscape.