Biosolids SPOTLIGHT: A focus on the people of biosolids who work in our region


This issue of the MABA SPOTLIGHT introduces you to the MABA board members who are providing leadership in 2021.  They are helping ensure that MABA continues to offer relevant programs and technical information, continuing education events, and volunteering opportunities to its membership, as well as tracking industry issues and actively advocating for the biosolids profession.

John Uzupis

John Uzupis 1

John Uzupis ([email protected], (410) 371-3195), is President of the MABA Board of Trustees. John is the Technical Services Director for Synagro Mid-Atlantic region. John has been with Synagro since 1996 in various roles and, in today’s role, he is responsible for managing the land base, permits, and compliance for beneficial reuse of biosolids and other residuals. He is an appointed member of Maryland’s Phosphorus Management Advisory Committee. He holds a B.S. in Environmental Resource Management from Pennsylvania State University and is a Certified Nutrient Management Specialist in the State of Pennsylvania. Prior to joining Synagro, John worked for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources permitting mine reclamation sites.  John enjoys the mountains:  biking, hiking, fishing, hunting, and looking at them, especially with my wife Denise and two sons, Aidan and Nolan.  

Al Razik

Al Razik 1

Al Razik ([email protected], (443) 223-5773) has been Treasurer of the MABA since 2013   Al began his career 42 years ago as a student intern working in anaerobic digestion research at the Institute of Gas Technology: “I was sold on the concept of resource recovery from wastes.” Seven years later, he moved to Maryland Environmental Service (MES): “I am responsible for the execution of our organization’s biosolids program, where I manage all aspects of the solids and residuals generated from over 80 facilities. You have to have a passion towards the goal of beneficial reuse to help solve one of society’s most pressing problems – what to do with our wastes AND recycle them while protecting public health.”  Al is a native of the South Side of Chicago and remains a diehard Cubs fan!. He and his wife Susan are parents to four grown children, two precocious grandsons, and two small dogs who think they are kids. Quarantining has brought about new projects. One new venture is cooking, which is a work in progress, and he is recapturing his joy of running.  Al says, “I like being outside when the weather is nice, running on the BWI trail near my house.”

Anne Marek 

Anne Marek 1Anne Marek ([email protected], (215) 589-2162) is the Secretary of the MABA Board of Trustees. Since October 2016, Anne has been the Regional Sales Engineer at Kershner Environmental Technologies, LLC, a manufacturer’s representative in environmental technologies located in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.  Anne serves the central and northeast Pennsylvania regions with innovative technologies to provide communities with clean drinking water and treat used water.  Her goal is to partner during the early phases of process technology selection and to aid customers in the conceptualization of the projects with innovative solutions. Anne has always been an outdoor enthusiast, which likely contributed to her settling into environmental engineering. While dreaming of the day she can start traveling again, you can usually find her running along the river in Harrisburg in hopes of being able to race soon, cooking up a tasty new recipe in the kitchen, or volunteering for her city as a Planning Commissioner and for the Junior League, giving back to those in need.

Howard Matteson

Howard Matteson

Howard Matteson([email protected], (732) 289-7347) is co-Chair of the Programming Committee of the MABA Board.  Howard is a Principal Environmental Engineer and Senior Project Manager for CDM Smith Inc., having first joined the firm as an engineering co-op student, pursuing a second bachelor’s degree from Northeastern University (the first was in history from Colgate). He now has 25 years of experience in management and engineering for planning and design, permitting, and construction of a variety of infrastructure projects, and is experienced in comprehensive wastewater treatment plant upgrades, with a focus on resource recovery. Howard serves as the firm’s Authority Engineer for the Rahway Valley Sewerage Authority (RVSA) and Lambertville Municipal Utilities Authority (LMUA) and has managed other major authority assignments in the New York metro area. Howard lives in New Jersey with this wife, two children, a dog, and a cat. In his spare time, he enjoys weekend home projects, hiking, and, to a lesser degree, small appliance repair. 

 Sean Fallon 

Sean Fallon 1Sean Fallon ([email protected], 919.406.4270) is Vice President of the MABA Board of Trustees. He joined the McGill Environmental Systems management team in 2012 and has been pivotal in the growth of this large-scale composting technology group. His role at McGill includes overseeing business development and intake for all US-based facilities as well as spearheading company-wide safety and educational programs. Sean is a seasoned business development professional with over 20 years of expertise in driving client growth and sustainability awareness.  Sean’s life-long passion has always been focused on the environment and outdoors. He resides on a small farm in NC and is the co-founder of a non-profit animal sanctuary that provides loving homes for farm animals that need a second chance. In his off time, he can be found working the farm or spending time with animals, whom he calls family. Sean is also a lead singer of a popular rock cover band and has performed with noteworthy musicians and acts.  


SPOTLIGHT on Biosolids Users

Our commitment to RESOURCE RECOVERY is only as genuine as we have people out in the field using our biosolids products for soil improvement and plant growth. The May SPOTLIGHT is on these "customers" of biosolids who every day are working on projects to put biosolids to good use. Four profiles are offered below, but we hope to have many more in the future.


Strong client relations and premium compost are two key ingredients to Rodney Hopkins’s success with Innovative Turf Application and Consulting (ITAC), a company he founded outside of Richmond, Virginia. ITAC is a premiere turf company, with a highly trained staff, offering services tailored to turf demands of athletic fields.  ITAC has had success with its use of McGill SoilBuilder Premium Compost in sports field management.  According to Hopkins, the biosolids-based compost positively impacts soil structure which in turn improves moisture retention, producing a result that both ITAC and its customers quickly realized as a major benefit and positive alternative to synthetic products. ITAC counts some of the best athletic fields in Virginia as its clients, with a strong focus on building and maintaining the best athletic fields, utilizing biosolids based product as a key part of that success.


Peter Price, raised on a beef and veal farm in rural Bradford County, Pennsylvania, is the ultimate biosolids guy. He is a big biosolids user, with his father and siblings moving the family farm operation from that of hay purchaser to that of hay seller, through the great yields afforded by biosolids pellets.  He is also a biosolids expert, serving as Technical Services Manager for Synagro in Maryland and Pennsylvania, where he and his team (Corinne Darragh, Daniel Rohe, Amy Welker and Kevin Smeltz) are responsible for land base management, permit and registration processing, regulatory compliance, and community relations.  In his spare time, Peter keeps bees, scuba dives, and works toward his private pilot license. He resides in East Coventry, Chester County, with his wife Natasha and their three sons – Rowan, Peyton and Braeden.   



Leroy Zimmerman is owner of Custom Ag Service, LLC, a company out of Marietta, PA, that applies lime and manure for farmers in Pennsylvania.  Importantly for the biosolids profession, Leroy has applied biosolids to farms in eastern Pennsylvania for well over 30 years. He has recently been spreading heat-dried biosolids pellets, using equipment of his own design that reduces dust release.  He has been a key part of the distribution program for the Clean & Green Recycling Corporation, a merchant dryer operation in Lindenhurst, Long Island, NY. Leroy has been providing pellets to farmers in the northeastern quadrant of Pennsylvania, which is not as over-supplied with manure as is the southcentral region. He works with biosolids specialist, Diane Garvey, Garvey Resources, Inc, under a distribution program authorized by PADEP General Permit 7 for Exceptional Quality Biosolids. Diane provides Leroy support with compliance with nutrient management, notification, recordkeeping and reporting requirements.


Mark Younkins connects the anaerobically digested cake produced by Capital Region Water AWTF in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, with farmers such as Mahlon Lapp, in Lancaster County. Although the son of health care professionals in State College, Mark was instead inspired to seek a career that offered time in the outdoors and in agriculture, and thereby completed a soil science option in the Environmental Resource Management program at Penn State. Mark found a great match with the biosolids services offered by his employer, Material Matters, Inc. Mark’s role is to provide the logistics of matching the farmer’s windows of  landspreading opportunity with truck deliveries, WRRF cake production with field staging or on‐farm storage. He also oversees biosolids spreading at the farm sites under Pennsylvania’s General Permit, flagging of field setback boundaries, setting biosolids application rates, and complying with recordkeeping and regulatory requirements. In a real sense, Mark makes the connection between biosolids and soil.



SPOTLIGHT on Sustainable Environment Research Laboratory

Had the coronavirus pandemic not torpedoed the WEF Residuals and Biosolids Conference early April, many of us would have witnessed the outpouring of great research of the Sustainable Environment Research Laboratory (SERL), Virginia Tech’s northern campus. SERL is closely working with utilities and consulting firms to develop innovative environmental technologies and prepare a quality workforce capable of solving real world problems. With some luck, WEF will offered again these SERL papers:

  • “Anaerobic digestion process intensification using temperature-phased anaerobic digestion and thermal hydrolysis”
  • “Effect of thermal hydrolysis pretreatment on recalcitrant dissolved organic nitrogen contents quantified after anaerobic and aerobic treatment”
  • “A comprehensive examination of the dewaterability of aerobic granular sludge cultivated in continuous flow bioreactors fed with real domestic wastewater”
  • “Identification of Source and Cause of the Biosolids Odor Emission in Western Branch Water Resource Recovery Facility of Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission”
  • “A comprehensive examination of the dewaterability of aerobic granular sludge cultivated in continuous flow bioreactors fed with real domestic wastewater”
  • “Effect of THP and Anaerobic Digestion on the Dewatering Behavior of WAS and Primary Biosolids”

Leading the amazing work at SERL is Dr. Zhiwu (Drew) Wang, Ph.D., P.E., Assistant Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, 9408 Prince William St. Manassas, VA 20110-5670, Phone: (703) 361-5606 Ext. 119,: [email protected].  Dr. Wang’s research portfolio focuses on the development of advanced municipal sludge management technologies for intensifying anaerobic digester capacity1,2, mitigating biosolids odors3,4, enhancing cake dewaterability3,5-7, recovering nutrients5,6, mitigating emerging contaminants8,9, etc. His studies provide insight into engineered processes specifically designed for wastewater treatment10,11 and value-added bioproducts recovery12,13. Most importantly, Dr. Wang is seeding our profession with many new scientists. 

Here are the several new biosolids researchers:

Dr. Dian Zhang ([email protected]) joined Dr. Wang’s team back in 2017. He just successfully defended his Ph.D. dissertation titled “Effects of process intensification techniques on biosolids management“ in March and will join Stantec’s Fairfax office as a civil engineer in June. During his Ph.D. study, Dr. Zhang worked with Arlington Water Pollution Control Plant, Alexandria Renew Enterprises, and Upper Occoquan Service Authority (UOSA) to investigate: Effect of solids retention time, shear force, and storage time on the polymer consumption, odor emission, and sludge dewaterability3; Recalcitrant dissolved organic nitrogen formation in thermal hydrolysis pretreatment8; Using cerium chloride to control soluble orthophosphate concentration and improve the dewaterability of sludge5,6and Kinetic modeling of the anaerobic digestion4

Dr. Yewei Sun ([email protected]) joined Dr. Wang’s team back in 2016.  He just successfully defended his Ph.D. dissertation titled “Advanced Biofilm and Aerobic Granulation Technologies for Water and Wastewater Treatment” in March and will join Hazen & Sawyer’s Fairfax office as Scientist in June. Dr. Sun performed his Ph.D. research in Upper Occoquan Service Authority (UOSA) on the topic of aerobic granular sludge which holds promise to revolutionize the wastewater and biosolids industry for its advantageous settleability10 and dewaterability7 over the traditional activated sludge.


Mr. Jeffrey Nicholson ([email protected]) joined Dr. Wang's team as a PhD student in 2019. He received his B.S. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Virginia Tech. Jeff is working with both the Hampton Roads Sanitation District (HRSD) and Matt Higgins at Bucknell University. His research is focused on identifying the parameters and fundamental mechanisms that control the dewatering and polymer demand of biosolids with respect to the effects of biological phosphorus removal, thermal hydrolysis pretreatment and anaerobic digestion.

Mr. Hao Luo ([email protected]) joined Dr. Wang’s team as a Ph.D. student in Spring 2019.  He received his B.S. in Environmental Science from Kunming University of Science & Technology in 2014 and his M.S. in Science & Technology from Southeastern Louisiana University in 2017. Hao has been working with Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) on the research to identify the source and cause of the biosolids odor emission in the Western Branch Water Resource Recovery Facility. He is also working on a project funded by Virginia Tech Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science on the topic of biomass phosphorus recovery and immobilization to be used as slow-releasing fertilizer.

 Mr. Jiefu Wang ([email protected]) joined Dr. Wang’s team as a Ph.D. student in Fall 2019. He received his B.E. in Environmental Engineering from Beijing University of Chemical Technology in 2017 and M.E. in Water, Waste & Environmental Engineering from University College Dublin in 2018.  He is continuing Dr. Dian Zhang’s effort on the topics of process intensification of anaerobic digestion through temperature phased anaerobic digestion and/or thermal hydrolysis pretreatment in collaboration with Arlington Water Pollution Control Plant and Alexandria Renew Enterprises. Meanwhile, Jiefu is also making effort to understand the effect of cationic polymer on the performance of microbial communities in anaerobic digesters as a result of thermal hydrolysis pretreatment. 

Mr. Zhaohui An ([email protected]) joined Dr. Wang’s team as a Ph.D. student in Fall 2018. He received his B.E. in Environmental Engineering from Tongji University in 2017 and M.S. in Civil Engineering from University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign in 2018. Zhaohui is working with Loudoun Water to understand the potential impact of the recalcitrant dissolved organic nitrogen formation as a result of the thermal hydrolysis on the Loudoun Water reclamation plant operation.



1. Xu, F., Wang, Z.-W., Tang, L., and Li, Y., 2014. A mass diffusion-based interpretation of the effect of total solids content on solid-state anaerobic digestion of cellulosic biomass. Bioresource technology, 167: 178-185

2. Xu, F.Q., Li, Y.B., and Wang, Z.W., 2015. Mathematical modeling of solid-state anaerobic digestion. Progress in Energy and Combustion Science, 51: 49-66

3. Zhang, D., Strawn, M., Broderick, T., Novak, J., and Wang, Z.D., 2020. Effects of anaerobic digester solids retention time on odor emission and dewaterability of biosolids subjected to various shear intensity, polymer doses, and storage duration. Environmental Science: Water Research & Technology:

4. Zhang, D., Strawn, M., Novak, J.T., and Wang, Z.W., 2018. Kinetic modeling of the effect of solids retention time on methanethiol dynamics in anaerobic digestion. Water Research, 138: 301-311

5. Zhang, D., Angelotti, B., Schlosser, E., Novak, J.T., and Wang, Z.W., 2019. Using cerium chloride to control soluble orthophosphate concentration and improve the dewaterability of sludge: Part II. A case study. Water Environment Research: 92 (3): 331-337

6. Zhang, D., Angelotti, B., Schlosser, E., Novak, J.T., and Wang, Z.W., 2019. Using cerium chloride to control soluble orthophosphate concentration and improve the dewaterability of sludge: Part I. Mechanistic understanding. water Environment Research: 92 (3): 320-330

7. Zhang D., Sun Y.W., Angelotti B., and Z.W., W., 2020. Understanding the dewaterability of aerobic granular sludge formed in continuous flow bioreactors treating real domestic wastewater: is it really better than that of the activated sludge? . Journal of Water Process Engineering (Accepted)

8. Zhang, D., Feng, Y., Huang, H., Khunjar, W., and Wang, Z.-W., 2020. Recalcitrant dissolved organic nitrogen formation in thermal hydrolysis pretreatment of municipal sludge. Environment International, 138: 105629

9. Sun, Y., Angelotti, B., Brooks, M., Dowbiggin, B., Evans, P.J., Devins, B., and Wang, Z.W., 2018. A pilot-scale investigation of disinfection by-product precursors and trace organic removal mechanisms in ozone-biologically activated carbon treatment for potable reuse. Chemosphere, 210: 539-549

10. Sun, Y., Angelotti, B., and Wang, Z., 2019. Continuous-flow aerobic granulation in plug-flow bioreactors fed with real domestic wastewater. The Science of the total environment, 688: 762-770

11. Sun, Y., Vaidya, R., Khunjar, W.O., Rosenfeldt, E.J., Selbes, M., Wilson, C., Bott, C.B., Titcomb, M., and Wang, Z.-W., 2019. Mathematical modeling of biologically active filtration (BAF) for potable water production applications. Water research, 167: 115128

12. Yu, D., Sun, Y., Wang, W., O’Keefe, S.F., Neilson, A.P., Feng, H., Wang, Z., and Huang, H., 2020. Recovery of protein hydrolysates from brewer’s spent grain using enzyme and ultrasonication. International Journal of Food Science & Technology:

13. Wang, Z.-W., Hamilton-Brehm, S.D., Lochner, A., Elkins, J.G., and Morrell-Falvey, J.L., 2011. Mathematical modeling of hydrolysate diffusion and utilization in cellulolytic biofilms of the extreme thermophile Caldicellulosiruptor obsidiansis. Bioresource technology, 102(3): 3155-3162

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