Eric Willman

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As the Executive Director of the Rice WaTER Institute (Water Technology, Entrepreneurship, and Research) and the NEWT Center, Eric seeks to catalyze collaborative research in water and its translation into accessible clean water technologies that enhance human capacity and prosperity. The Institute serves to strengthen water related research at Rice by coordinating activities across Rice schools; to connect the Rice water community with industrial, government, and academic partners; and to engage with global leaders across all areas of water science, technology and policy.  Research at WaTER focuses on water and public health, water-energy nexus, resilient water infrastructure as well as foundational work in the social, natural and engineering sciences related to these thrusts.  To achieve its mission, WaTER seeks to host programming and events that strengthen the broader water community at Rice, to connect interdisciplinary teams to apply for and execute center-level grants, and to create industrially funded consortium around high priority water topics relevant to industry. 

Since its inception in 2015 with a substantial $37 million grant from the National Science Foundation spanning a decade, the Nanotechnology Enabled Water Treatment (NEWT) Center has played a pivotal role in shaping the landscape of water treatment research and development. NEWT's legacy will be its enduring influence on the Rice Water Institute.

Eric has spent his entire career in the water space.  After graduating with a Ph.D. and completing a postdoc, he spent 24 years in corporate R&D leading teams that developed products, processes and systems for the Healthcare, Food and Beverage, and Ultrapure Water markets.  Some of the most gratifying achievements have come from reducing the water footprint and enhancing the environmental sustainability of commercial systems.



1999 Postdoctoral Research in Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, University of California-Davis

1998 Ph.D in Environmental Engineering - Water Chemistry, University of Wisconsin-Madison

1993 B.S. in Chemistry, University of Notre Dame


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