About the Center for Urban Waters

Center for Urban Waters building on the Thea Foss Waterway

The Center for Urban Waters is a community of environmental scientists, analysts, engineers and policy makers developing creative and sustainable solutions to restore and protect the Puget Sound. The center provides an intellectual environment where people with a diverse mix of skills can collaborate to develop innovative approaches to environmental restoration and protection and to sustainable urban development. Learn more at urbanwaters.org.

Research conducted by University of Washington Tacoma scientists at the Center for Urban Waters seeks to understand and quantify the sources, pathways and impacts of chemical pollutants in urban waterways. Highly sensitive analytical tools to measure contaminant levels are combined with sophisticated computer models to track pollutant sources and transport in the Puget Sound region. UW students work side-by-side with Urban Waters colleagues, contributing to research teams while gaining valuable training and experience.

Principal investigators

Joel Baker, Ph.D.

Dr. Joel Baker

Professor Joel Baker holds the Port of Tacoma Chair in Environmental Science and is the Science Director of the Center for Urban Waters. He earned a B.S. degree in Environmental Chemistry from SUNY Syracuse (1982) and M.S. (1985) and Ph.D. (1988) degrees in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of Minnesota.

Dr. Baker's research interests center about the transport of organic contaminants in the environment, specifically atmospheric transport and deposition, aerosol chemistry, the dynamics of contaminant transport in estuaries, and modeling the exposure and transfer of bioaccumulative chemicals in aquatic food webs. He teaches courses in water quality modeling, environmental chemistry, and quantitative methods.

He has co-authored over ninety papers on contaminant cycling in the Great Lakes, the Chesapeake Bay and coastal waters, and edited Atmospheric Deposition of Contaminants to the Great Lakes and Coastal Waters (SETAC Press, 1997). He was the lead author on a scientific review of PCBs in the Hudson River, a contributing author to the Pew Oceans Commission report Marine Pollution in the United States, and a member of the NRC's Committee on Oil in the Sea, chaired the New York Harbor Model Evaluation Group, advised the European Commission on water quality modeling, and served on the Board of Directors of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. Dr. Baker is a member of the Puget Sound Partnership Science Panel, which he chaired from 2007-2009.

Ed Kolodziej, Ph.D.

Dr. Ed Kolodziej

Dr. Kolodziej began his academic studies with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the Johns Hopkins University (1998), after which he focused on environmental issues and went to the University of California at Berkeley where he received his M.S. (1999) and Ph.D. (2004) in Environmental Engineering. He came to the UW in 2014 as part of the UW Freshwater Science Initiative, with a joint appointment with the School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences (UW Tacoma) and Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (UW Seattle).  Prior to the UW, he spent seven years at the University of Nevada, Reno in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. He is affiliated with local and regional water quality efforts through The Center for Urban Waters.

Ed’s interests include water quality and contaminant fate in natural and engineered systems, especially focusing on interdisciplinary approaches to complex environmental issues affecting water and ecosystem health. His research group works to characterize and control non-point source pollution, understand attenuation mechanisms in natural systems, and optimize engineered systems for trace contaminant removal. His research has been published in Science, and featured in news media such as Nature, Scientific American, U.S. News and World Report, Yahoo Health News, BBC Radio’s “Inside Science,” and the Huffington Post among others.

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