LEADERSHIP 2016-2017


Gualtiero Jaeger


Gualtiero is a PhD Candidate in the MIT-Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Joint Program, studying physical oceanography.  His research takes him to the Indian Ocean, with an international project investigating the ocean's role in the monsoon rainfall patterns.  He is intrigued by society’s interactions with the ocean, and received a B.Sc in Physics from the University of California Santa Barbara. “I’m excited to work with a team that shares a curiosity and passion for water issues far beyond the specific problems we each research, connecting people & ideas across fields and potentially influencing the paths we take.”

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Quantum Wei


Quantum is a graduate student in the Mechanical Engineering Department at MIT, where he researches the energy-efficient design of reverse osmosis systems. He received his SB at MIT in Mechanical Engineering. In the past, Quantum's work at Microsoft and NASA has focused on thermal-fluids modeling. He enjoys cooking, teaching, and playing sports.

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Samantha McBride

Co-Vice President

Samantha received her B.S. in environmental engineering from the University of Nevada, Reno and her M.S. in chemical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Her past research includes emerging water contaminants, environmental fate and transport, and renewable energy. She is currently working on her PhD at MIT investigating novel materials for desalination applications. 

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Yvana Ahdab

MIT Water Summit Director

Yvana is PhD student in the MIT Department of Mechanical Engineering, working on batch reverse osmosis systems for water desalination. She completed her SM at MIT on the minimum energy requirements for groundwater desalination in the continental United States. Prior to attending MIT, Yvana received her BS in Mechanical Engineering from Johns Hopkins University. As an undergraduate, she conducted research on the effects of chemical treatment and ocean currents on oil dispersion and worked on the development of an energy harvesting cooling device.

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Preston Kutney

Water Innovation Prize Co-Director

Preston is a 2nd year MBA candidate at the MIT Sloan School of business. He grew up in Vancouver, BC and studied civil engineering at BYU before spending 3 years in the water resources group at the engineering consultancy AECOM. At AECOM, he designed water infrastructure, built flood models, and evaluated the environmental impacts of transportation projects. His primary interests at Sloan are developing sustainable business strategies and commercializing environmental technologies.

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Juan Bazet

Water Innovation Prize Co-Director

Coming soon... stay tuned!

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Milani Chatterji-Len

Lecture Series Chair

Milani is an undergraduate student in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. She works as an undergraduate researcher at MIT on modeling innovative desalination systems. Milani is passionate about bridging development and engineering, and leads MIT's chapter of Engineers Without Borders. She also will catch any flying disc headed her way.

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Janelle Heslop

Marketing Chair

Janelle is a Leaders for Global Operations (LGO) Fellow at MIT, pursuing an MS in Civil and Environmental Engineering and an MBA.  Before coming to MIT, Janelle was a Senior Associate at Veolia, a leading global water management and environmental services company, where she was a member of their Resource Optimization group and managed the operations of a large-scale performance improvement and sustainable operations program for NYC’s water utility. Previously, Janelle was a consultant at GreenOrder where she advised Fortune 500 companies on their environmental strategies.

She has dedicated her career and personal pursuits to sustainable business and development, pursuing initiatives and ideas at the intersection of environmental sustainability, water access and innovation, and prosperous communities.  Janelle has conducted research in environmental engineering departments at Columbia, Princeton, and Duke Universities; interned in environmental law and policy organizations such as the Riverkeeper and the Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia Law School; and led energy and water projects in Uganda.  Janelle graduated with distinction from Columbia University's School of Engineering and Applied where she received a B.S. in Earth and Environmental Engineering. In 2013, The Guardian named Janelle one of twitter’s "30 most influential sustainability voices in America" and in 2016 she was named one of Greenbiz’s 30 Under 30 emerging sustainability leaders.

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Rachel Schmidt 


Rachel graduated from the University of Virginia (UVA) in 2012 with a BS in Civil and Environmental Engineering.  Following graduation, Rachel moved to South Africa and worked with local female potters to develop a small business creating and selling ceramic water filters.  In 2013, Rachel moved to Denver, Colorado and worked for Arcadis, a global engineering and consulting firm, for three years.  Rachel is currently pursuing an MBA and an MS in Mechanical Engineering from MIT as a member of the Leaders for Global Operations (LGO) Program.

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Isadora Cruxen

Media & Communications Director

Isadora is a PhD candidate in urban studies and international development, focusing on urban water supply governance and sustainable water resources management in the Global South. Originally from Brazil, she holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Brasília and a Master in City Planning from MIT/DUSP. 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 has previously served as Co-Vice President and Lecture Series Chair of the MIT Water Club.

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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. Leo served as Co-President of the Water Club between 2014-2015.

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