Nur H. Orak, Postdoctoral Researcher with  U.S. National Energy Technology Laboratory and Carnegie Mellon University 

Nur H. Orak is a Postdoctoral Associate at The U.S. National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) and Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Pittsburgh, PA. She earned her Ph.D. (2016) under supervision of Prof. Mitchell J. Small at Carnegie Mellon University. Orak is an environmental engineer with a multi-disciplinary research background. Her research interests include statistical modeling, environmental risk assessment, air quality, life cycle assessment, and environmental policy. Orak’s work at Geological and Environmental Systems Division of NETL includes investigating air quality impacts of unconventional shale gas well pad development and production. This is the first study to identify the potential source categories of pollutants from baseline through production activities. Orak’s work at CMU focuses on examining the effect of chronic stressor exposures on the associations between nitrogen dioxide, particulate matter and birth outcomes in New York City. It is a collaboration with Prof. Jane Clougherty at Drexel University. The potential outcomes of this comprehensive study would be of profound public health and policy relevance. Orak works on a range of different topics, but her focus is developing statistical models for different sizes of data sets and maximizing the learned information from theory and experiment by formulating the causal relationships behind the scenario.

 Orak has a long history of leadership positions with several technical and non-technical NGOs in Turkey and the U.S.A. She is the chair of the American Society of Civil Engineers-Environmental Water Resources Institute Pittsburgh Chapter. She is a member of the Student Council Initiative in the ASCE-EWRI National Society. She is the former vice-president of the Turkish Harp Association. She joined Women-Water Nexus in 2017 to be a part of a strong community to support global progress by supporting women professionals all around the world.

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Laura Schifman, National Academies of Science, National Research Council Postdoctoral Research Associate with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Laura Schifman is carrying out post-doctoral research at the National Risk Management Research Laboratory of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Cincinnati, OH, USA. Overall, her focus lies in evaluating chemical, physical, and biological processes in urban areas that aim to improve the performance of green infrastructure insofar as providing ecosystem services and policy guidance.  Laura received her PhD from the University of Rhode Island in 2015 in Environmental Sciences where her work focused on non-point source pollution in the forms of atmospheric deposition of recalcitrant contaminants and stormwater quality improvement through filtration. During her postdoctoral research as an environmental scientist she has taken on a variety of projects that range from more traditional hydrological evaluations of urban soils and assessing a popular stormwater management tool (EPA Stormwater Calculator), to projects that draw together public health, green infrastructure, hydrology, and soil science into a truly interdisciplinary forum. One such project explores the tradeoffs between green infrastructure and other environmental processes that regulate vector populations (e.g., mosquitoes) in subtropical cities, and therefore have implications for public health. Another project deals with evaluating soil black carbon pools in 12 cities in the United States and how these relate to city characteristics. 
While these projects are varied in nature, Dr. Schifman's work revolves around the the urban environment and how the hydrologic cycle and green spaces can be used to leverage ecosystem services and other benefits to humans living in conurbations. Aside from this work, Laura is also interested in gender issues in science and engineering. She is excited to serve as the vice-chair of the Women-Water Nexus since October 2016 and unearth some (mis)conceptions about gender in the water sector. 
If you want to find out more about Laura or her research, check out her personal website or her profiles on GoogleScholar or ResearchGate.


Fariba Arzhang, National Rural Water Supply, Sanitation and Irrigation Programe (Ru-WatSIP)/Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD)

Fariba Arzhang is based in Kabul, Afghanistan, and works primarily in public and internal communications for government-based projects to benefit the people of Afghanistan. She has a decade of experience with initiatives at Afghan government ministries, UN agencies and NGOs. Most recently, she served as a communications and project manager for the Afghanistan Rural Water Supply project, part of the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development’s Sanitation & Irrigation Program (Ru-WatSIP). She recently received the membership of Young Professionals SDG in her program, in which she is responsible to report on Water and Sanitation status of the program. She also served as the Monitoring and Reporting Officer and Gender Focal Point for a project at the MRRD’s National Area-Based Development Program. She has extensive experience preparing progress reports, in building and maintaining donor relations, in writing articles for various publications, in contributing to action plans to increase women’s involvement in programs, and in building working relationships with local people. She has a growing interest in the use of social media and how women can leverage different online tools while working within the societal constraints regarding the value of reputation in her country. She has a Master’s Degree from the University of Queensland, where she studied community development, and her final project was on the creation of a participatory communications strategy for the Livelihood Improvement Practice Group (LIPG) for Women of Paghman district-Kabul Province. She also has a Master’s degree in Public Policy and Administration from Kabul University, and her Final project was Women’s Leadership in Public Organizations (Governmental) in Afghanistan. She also studied development management for four months in 2008 at the University of Washington, Seattle, USA. Outside of her paid employment, she has participated in various community-based initiatives focused on women’s empowerment and the Afghan Women’s Writing Project.
Ms Arzhang recently received the membership of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the program she is currently managing, focused to promote Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Young Professionals. She is currently working with the SDG 6 group to translate and advocate for SDG targets 6.1, which consist on “achieving universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all by 2030”, as well as goal SDG 6.2  “achieving access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation by 2030”. Her specific role is to address the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations in the Afghan context. 

Sponsored by the Women’s Water Nexus task force, Fariba Arzhung was selected as EWRI Visiting International Fellow. She will attend the 2017 World Environmental and Water Resources Congress in Sacramento, California. Additionally, she was selected as Visiting International Fellow by the University of Rhode Island.
As part of this fellowship, Ms. Fariba, will have quite the busy schedule! She will meet faculty and students of the Water:E2S2 research group, the College of Engineering, the College of Environmental and Life Science, the College of Arts and Science, the International Development minor and URI Peace Corps Certificate, Gender and Women Studies, and the Harrington School of Communication at the University of Rhode Island. She will also present some of her work on the Role of Women in the Rehabilitation of Afghanistan Infrastructure as part of a public seminar.