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Professional Staff

  • Paul Ziemkiewicz

    Director

    (304) 293-6958

    Dr. Ziemkiewicz, a native of Pittsburgh, received his Ph.D. from the University of British Columbia and an MS and BS from Utah State University in the biological sciences. After graduation, he worked for ten years with the Alberta Department of Energy before coming to West Virginia University in 1988 to serve as the Water Research Institute director. The Institute develops and carries out environmental research projects in the region and nationally. Research focus areas include managing and treating waste streams from coal mining and oil and gas development. Major research programs include acid mine drainage, critical mineral and rare earth recovery, coal ash, water use in power generation, coal mine reclamation, industrial water treatment, and watershed restoration.

  • Melissa O'Neal

    Associate Director

    (304) 293-7006

    Melissa O’Neal is the Associate Director for the West Virginia Water Research Institute, where she is responsible for program oversight and supervision of lead managers and Directors of WVWRI divisions. As the Associate Director, she manages the USGS-funded 104b, 104g, and student internship program allocated to the WVWRI as one of the 54 institutes that comprise the National Institutes for Water Research. Melissa started her career with WVWRI as an Environmental Technician in 2008, performing water sample collection for various water quality projects throughout Appalachia. Advancing in her career at WVWRI, Melissa served as a Project and Program Manager between 2014-2019, where she developed and managed a variety of water monitoring projects, building relationships with stakeholders and securing funding for new initiatives. Melissa obtained an Associate of Science degree through the Garrett College Natural Resources and Wildlife and Technology Program and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Resources from West Virginia University.

  • Carrie Staton

    Director, Northern West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center

    (304) 293-7071

    Carrie M. Staton is the Director of the Northern WV Brownfields Assistance Center at West Virginia University. Carrie provides strategic direction and oversight for the Center and its programs, including development and management of internal processes; program development and implementation; financial and administrative oversight; and partnership development and management. She also manages programs and projects related to community engagement, education, research, and collaborative redevelopment. She has published case studies on brownfield redevelopment in industry publications and textbooks and has presented at national and international conferences on brownfields and community development. She has also co-authored published research in public administration journals and an edited volume on organizational management. Carrie is a proud alum of Bethany College, where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Nonprofit Administration, and West Virginia University, where she received a Master of Public Administration.

  • Raymond Moeller

    Economic Redevelopment Specialist

    (304) 293-0390

    Ray Moeller was born and raised in Michigan and went to college at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, MI, where he received his B.S in Computer Science and Applied Mathematics with a minor in Chemistry. After an extensive career in the pharmaceutical industry, he secured an AmeriCorps VISTA position in West Virginia, leading him into the community and economic development field. As an Economic Redevelopment Specialist, Ray works with communities around the state, focusing on downtown / Main Street redevelopment strategies. When Ray isn’t working, he and his wife Connie enjoy time together hiking, kayaking, biking, and reading.

  • Katie See

    Assistant Director

    (304) 293-6984

    Katie See, AICP, is the Assistant Director for the Northern West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center (NBAC). In this role, she provides technical assistance on industrial legacy sites throughout WV and EPA Region 3. Katie assists communities with proposals and site development support to establish sustainable economic development initiatives for West Virginia. In addition to working with WV communities, she is the Technical Assistance to Brownfields (TAB) lead for EPA Region 3, where she coordinates education, outreach, brownfield funding, and project redevelopment assistance in coordination with the EPA and state environmental agencies. Before joining the NBAC, Katie worked as a city and county planner since 2006, starting her career as the city planner for Charles Town, WV, where she had the opportunity to work with brownfield sites. Katie also served as a long-range planner for the City of Clearwater, FL, and a senior planner in the Charlotte, NC, metro area. Throughout her career, Katie has worked with communities and stakeholders to create plans to achieve their vision. Katie received her undergraduate degree in urban affairs and planning from Virginia Tech and her master's in environmental policy & management.

  • Seth Cardwell

    Community Development Associate

    (304) 293-7043

    Seth is the Community Development Associate for the West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center. Seth was born and raised in the heart of West Virginia’s Southern Coalfields and has a passion for community-based change and the promotion of economic and environmental sustainability in Appalachia. Seth received his undergraduate degrees at Concord University with majors in History and Political Science and a minor in International Studies. He is also a recent graduate of West Virginia University with a Master of Public Administration. When not working, Seth enjoys immersing himself in the arts, attending ballets, operas, and orchestral concerts, and reading on the front porch with his partner, Joshua.

  • Ganga Nakarmi

    Brownfields Inventory Project Manager

    (304) 293-7009

    Ganga Nakarmi is the Brownfields Inventory Project Manager at West Virginia Water Research Institute. In this role, she provides critical support in the development and management of projects, programs, and staff associated with the Northern West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center (NBAC). Ms. Nakarmi is completing her PhD in Human and Community Development from West Virginia University (WVU) in May 2023. She has received a Graduate Certificate in Geographic Information System and Spatial Analysis from WVU. She has also received her Master’s Degrees in Protected Area Management from Alpen-Adria University, Klagenfurt, Austria and in Botany (Ecology) from Tribhuvan University, Nepal. She has served in the fields of protected area management, human dimensions and conservation, and sustainable development through research, education, and outreach programs affiliated with national and international organizations. Ms. Nakarmi grew up in Kathmandu, Nepal and moved to Morgantown to continue her studies at WVU. She enjoys hiking and biking in the mountains of WV and sharing her ethnic dishes with friends.

  • Becca Phillips

    Outreach and Education Coordinator

    (304) 293-7002

    Becca is the Outreach and Education Coordinator for the Northern West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center (NBAC) and the West Virginia Water Research Institute (WVWRI). Becca supports all outreach activities, including organizing conferences and events, coordinating webinars, and managing websites and social media. Becca earned her degrees from Utah State University, specifically a bachelor's degree in marketing and master's degree in instructional leadership with an emphasis in student affairs. Becca and her family reside in Point Marion, PA and run a small gluten-free bakery from their home.

  • Drew Bucy

    Project Manager

    (304) 293-8274

    Drew Bucy is a Project Manager for the West Virginia Water Research Institute. In this role, she provides project and budget coordination as well as proposal management support across WRI’s portfolio of projects. Drew specializes in business development and communications and has worked in the federal contracting sphere across a wide variety of fields, including energy and environmental support, international development, and national security. She holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Vermont and a Master’s from WVU.

  • Kelli Hill

    Project Manager

    (304) 677-8495

    Kelli Hill is a Project Manager working in the Office of Research Program Management (ORPM). In the past, Kelli successfully managed projects focused on biometric research through the FBI and various addiction research projects in conjunction with the WVU Health Science Center. Before coming to the Research Corporation in 2019, she worked in several industries, including higher education, aerospace engineering, energy, national security, and government contracting. Currently, Kelli works with the West Virginia Water Research Institute (WRI) team. In this role, she provides proposal and project management support. She says her favorite part of working at WRI is knowing that she contributes to making the earth a cleaner and safer place for future generations. Kelli, a West Virginia native, and proud Prestonian, holds B.S. degrees in Business Administration and Marketing. She also received an M.A. in Communications from West Virginia University.

  • Terry Polce

    Program Assistant II

    (304) 293-7041

    Terry has worked for West Virginia University for 28 years. She first began working at WVU Extension Service in 1994, where she worked for Family, 4-H, and Youth Development. After that, she worked for the wonderful kids' program through Extension, Energy Express, and the Alternative Fuels Training Consortium, a National Resources for Coal and Energy program. Terry began working with the West Virginia Water Research institute in 2005 and has helped make the entire office run smoothly for the last 17 years. In Terry's spare time, she enjoys sun tanning and swimming at her best friend's swimming pool, going on cruises to exotic places and beaches, kayaking (just a beginner), walking, and spending time with her grandchildren. Terry also enjoys spending time walking with her lab/boxer mix, Elliott.

  • David Hoffman

    Critical Materials Scientist

    (304) 293-6894

    David is a graduate of Geneva College in Beaver Falls, PA, where he obtained a Bachelor of Engineering degree in Chemical Engineering and a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry. David has served as a Critical Materials Scientist at WRI since July 2020. David’s primary responsibility is to aid in developing acid leaching and solvent extraction circuits to recover rare elements and critical materials from acid mine drainage treatment. David has a passion for the environment and hopes his work will incentivize landowners to treat their acid mine drainage to help create a better environment for wildlife and local communities.

  • Jason Fillhart

    M.S., M.Ed., Watershed Project Manager

    (304) 293-7066

    Jason Fillhart is the Watershed Project Manager for the West Virginia Water Research Institute. He is charged with managing various projects under the banner of the National Mine Land Reclamation Center at WVWRI. Previously, he worked as the STEM Program Coordinator for WVU Extension Service, and he spent time in an industry setting with Williams Energy, where he was an Environmental Specialist. Mr. Fillhart has over 20 years of experience in the field of environmental science and management of water quality and extensive non-formal teaching experience. Jason was also a Project Coordinator for WVWRI from 2012 to 2018, where he managed projects and was the Primary Investigator for Acid Mine Drainage projects. Mr. Fillhart holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Environmental Science from Thiel College, a Master of Science Degree in Park and Resource Management, and a Master of Education Degree in Environmental Education, both from Slippery Rock University. Jason lives on a 12-acre hobby farm in Washington County, PA, with his wife, son, and chocolate lab.

  • Rachel Pell Spirnak

    Water Research Project Manager

    (304) 293-6968

    Rachel is a Water Research Project Manager for the West Virginia Water Research Institute. In this role, she provides a leadership role in initiating, implementing, and supervising environmental water-focused research and outreach within the Three Rivers QUEST program and other water-centric projects at WVWRI. Rachel holds a Master of Science degree in Energy Environments from WVU and a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Penn State Behrend. She joined the WVWRI team in 2020 as a Water Resources Specialist and transitioned into the Water Research Project Manager position in 2024. Prior to her time at WVWRI, she served as an AmeriCorps member at Mountain Watershed Association (Laurel Highlands, PA) and Friends of Deckers Creek (Morgantown, WV), which inspired her to protect communities’ water resources.

  • Caitlin Glascock

    Critical Materials Engineer

    (540) 323-4184

    Caitlin is a recent graduate of West Virginia University, where they received their Bachelor of Science in Civil and Environmental Engineering. Caitlin was formerly an undergraduate student worker within the Critical Materials Program and has since been recruited as the Critical Materials Engineer. Caitlin is responsible for the operation and monitoring of rare earth element recovery processes.

  • Eliza Siefert

    Critical Materials Water Researcher

    (304) 293-7003

    Eliza Siefert serves as the Critical Materials Water Researcher at the West Virginia Water Research Institute, assisting within the Waters and Critical Materials divisions. Eliza graduated from WVU in 2022 with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Microbiology. She has been with WVWRI since 2021, transitioning from a student worker to full-time staff after graduation. Within her position, Eliza is involved in field sampling, process optimization at the rare earth extraction facility, laboratory work, and data management. Eliza is a native of West Virginia, growing up along the scenic Ohio River. In her free time, she loves to explore the Mountain State and all its beauty with her partner, Evan. Eliza is excited to keep helping her home state though the research conducted at WVWRI!

  • Nate DePriest

    Water Resources Engineer

    (304) 293-4974

    Nate is Water Resources Engineer for West Virginia Water Research Institute. Nate manages engineering services and supports watershed, mine land reclamation, and critical materials projects. Nate grew up in Fairmont, WV and attended West Virginia University for his Bachelors, Masters, and PhD degrees in Civil and Environmental Engineering. His research was focused on reclamation of surface coal mines in central Appalachia. After several years as a consulting engineer working on mining and other energy projects, Nate returned to West Virginia and WRI due to an interest in research projects relevant to the state.

  • Melissa Shafer

    Water Research Scientist

    (304) 293-4974

    Melissa (Mel) Shafer is a Water Research Scientist for the West Virginia Water Research Institute. Mel obtained her Bachelor of Science in Biology with a minor in Chemistry at East Stroudsburg University in Pennsylvania. After graduation she began working in vaccine manufacturing and worked up to vaccine research and development. After 7 years in the industry, she decided to pursue her passion for river and water conservation by completing a Master of Science degree in Forestry with a focus in Forest Hydrology at West Virginia University. During this time, she started as a student worker for WVWRI. She is excited to continue working at WVWRI as a Water Research Scientist. Previously, she worked as a Graduate Research Assistant for the Mountain Hydrology Lab at WVU and a Field Assistant for the Natural Resource Analysis Center working on stream restoration. She has also worked for the Mountain Watershed Association as a Watershed Research Assistant. Mel is an avid whitewater canoeist which made her pursue a move to the Mountain State to explore all the wild and wonderful whitewater rivers West Virginia has to offer. This passion for whitewater changed her professional career goals to do everything to protect the rivers of West Virginia.

  • Deb Dubois

    Part-Time Administrative Assistant

    (304) 293-7083

    Deb DuBois joined the WVWRI as a part-time office assistant in May 2022. A native of Pittsburgh, Deb now calls West Virginia home. Deb has worked in various industries in administrative assistant roles and most recently worked for one of the region’s largest mining companies in Pennsylvania. WRI’s research and projects are of great interest to Deb, having come from the mining industry. In her spare time, Deb and her husband, Gary, enjoy summers on Tygart Lake, and snow skiing in the winter. Her true passion is training and competing in agility with her border collie, Frankie.