| AWWA Member Spotlight – Dr. Joseph E. Goodwill, Kingston, R.I.
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AWWA Member Spotlight – Dr. Joseph E. Goodwill, Kingston, R.I.

Joseph GoodwillNote: Joseph Goodwill (pictured right), member of AWWA and the New England Section, recently was awarded a prestigious five-year, $507,240 National Science Foundation CAREER Award to develop a new water treatment method especially useful for small, rural communities.

Name and location: Dr. Joseph E. Goodwill, P.E., Ph.D., Kingston, R.I.

Job title: Assistant Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Rhode Island (URI)

Education: B.S., Civil Engineering, Lafayette College; M.S., Environmental Engineering, University of Massachusetts (UMass); Ph.D., Civil Engineering, UMass

Why are you focused on water treatment for rural communities? There is a higher rate of health-based drinking water violations in small, rural systems than in urban systems, and that gap has gotten worse over the last 15 years. I grew up in the small town of Camden, N.Y., so I am personally concerned about this growing problem. One approach to environmental engineering will not always work for communities of all sizes. Rural areas, or communities with developing economies, might not be in a position to do what works in cities such as Boston or Providence. So, there is a need to develop appropriate and sustainable treatment approaches specifically for small systems. I view the rural water gap as an environmental justice issue. 

What water treatment approach are you developing? I am working with ferrate, a form of iron, and sulfite, a form of sulfur, to develop an advanced oxidation process (AOP) that can be used to treat water using shelf-stable inputs. I believe this approach will be advantageous to small systems that view other AOP approaches as prohibitively complex. I began working with ferrate as a doctoral student at UMass and continued it at URI. After reading a study by researchers at Texas A&M about the improvements that came from combining ferrate with a small amount of sulfite, my lab replicated these positive results and we are now researching why the two chemicals work well together and how they can best be used. I am hopeful we can develop a new tool to do advanced oxidation in an operationally simple way that small, rural systems will find especially attractive.  

How and why did you get involved in the water sector? Growing up in a rural area taught me to appreciate the natural beauty of the environment. Chemistry was also my favorite class as a kid. A water quality class I took as an undergraduate showed me how I could combine these two interests, and everything just “clicked”. I enrolled in the Environmental and Water Resources Engineering (EWRE) program at UMass to gain expertise in this area and had the opportunity to work on a project with The Water Research Foundation that deepened my appreciation for the interplay between the natural environment, water chemistry, and public health that defines the water sector. Working on pressing water problems and teaching others to do the same gives my life a strong sense of meaning and purpose.  

How have you benefited from being involved with AWWA and the New England Section? My involvement in NEWWA and AWWA has benefitted me in a few important ways. First, AWWA and the New England Section catalyzed the development of my professional network. Through involvement in committees and conferences I have been introduced to many interesting people who have become collaborators, colleagues, mentors and friends. Second, I had the honor of being awarded several AWWA and NEWWA scholarships during my graduate studies, including the Larson Aquatic Support (LARS) Scholarship, the American Water Scholarship, and the George E. Watters Scholarship. The financial support from these awards was very helpful; however, the intangible support inherent in these organizations saying, in essence, “your work is good and important,” was invaluable and inspired me to deepen my commitment to the water industry.  

Joseph Goodwill working in BoliviaInvolvement in AWWA also led me to Water for People. While helping with fundraising efforts on a local committee, I felt compelled to get directly involved in support of their mission to achieve safe water access for “Everyone Forever.” I have traveled to Malawi (twice) and India to execute monitoring of projects and programs through Water for People’s World Water Corps. I have also worked on unique acid mine drainage issues in Bolivia (pictured right). Those experiences changed my life in ways that are difficult to articulate. 

What is something that people would be surprised to know about you? I played Division 1 NCAA Football in college and was also in a fairly successful indie rock band. 

Joseph Goodwill playing the banjoPlease describe your hobbies and interests: My current hobbies are clearly a product of my NFL and rock stardom dreams being slow to fade. I enjoy staying physically active and can often be found in the gym or running. I have (only somewhat gracefully) transitioned from playing the bass guitar in clubs to playing the banjo (pictured left) for my nieces and nephews, whom I am proud to call my biggest fans. 

Is there anything else you’d like to add? I am grateful for the role AWWA has played in my life. I encourage everyone interested in the water industry to fully engage with AWWA. It is a high leverage activity that will benefit others and yourself.  

(Photos courtesy of Joseph Goodwill)