Science Section employees
“To provide scientific knowledge, information, and analysis in support of regional environmental resource management”
Staff by Group
Dave White, Manager, Science and Technical Support Section
Dave White manages the Science and Technical Support Section in the Water and Lands Resources Division. He oversees the work of the section, helping to ensure that the needs of the organization, customers, and employees are met. While many of his duties are administrative, he often gets involved in section projects and programs, as well as policy issues affecting the Division. In addition to education and experience in environmental science, Dave has a background in applied economics, finance, and environmental policy, and has had the privilege to work for all four divisions within the Department of Natural Resources and Parks: Wastewater Treatment, Parks, Solid Waste, as well as the Water and Land Resources Division.
Deb Lester, Water Quality Planner IV / Toxicology and Contaminant Assessment Unit Supervisor
Deb supervises staff in the Toxicology and Contaminant Assessment Unit. The unit works on a wide variety of projects including support to the Lower Duwamish Superfund Site; managing the marine and freshwater tissue monitoring programs; providing technical assistance to the Wastewater Treatment Division in support of contaminant issues in wastewater, biosolids and reclaimed water; conducts studies to assess the effectiveness of stormwater treatment; assesses the ecological and human health impacts of contaminants in sediment and surface waters; provides technical support on environmental regulations, and a wide array of other projects that involve a diversity of contaminant-related issues. Deb has been with King County for 17 years. She previously worked in consulting, served as the WA DNR dredge disposal program manager, spent ten years doing limnology, stream ecology, and contaminant research in the Lake Champlain Basin of Vermont, and also worked on a variety of stream ecology and benthic invertebrate projects in northern Vermont/New York.
Kate O’Laughlin, Supervising Environmental Scientist / Senior Ecologist, Watershed and Ecological Assessment Team
Kate’s skills and background include ecological and biological assessment and analyses of freshwater, marine, and terrestrial (laboratory and field) biota. Kate is the supervisor of the Watershed and Ecological Assessment Team (WEAT) in the Science and Technical Support Section. The team provides technical support for a variety of programs and projects in the County and the region: fish, habitat, and wildlife data and reports for salmon plans and restoration projects, surveys for ecological lands; flows and temperature data and reports for rivers and streams; and technical assessments and summaries for plans and regulations such as the King County Comprehensive Plan, Critical Areas Ordinance, and Shoreline Master Plan. The team’s work involves collaborations with King County internal groups, including Rivers, Stormwater, and WRIA Teams, and other organizations carrying out monitoring and assessment in Puget Sound, such as Puget Sound Partnership, Washington Department of Ecology, NOAA, and UW.
Jim Simmonds, Supervisor, Water Quality and Quantity Unit
Jim is the supervisor of the Water Quality and Quantity Unit in King County’s Science and Technical Support Section. He has over 25 years of experience monitoring and modeling environmental conditions, managing environmental investigations, managing environmental data, assessing potential impacts of stormwater, wastewater, and environmental contamination, and working with multiple federal, state, and local agencies. Jim’s recent work also includes helping King County prepare for climate change. He has been with King County since 1997.
Jim Bower, Environmental Scientist III / Fish Ecologist
Jim is the technical representative for the Lake Sammamish kokanee and WRIA 8 Chinook restoration planning areas. His work with native kokanee involves collaboration with numerous public agencies, private landowners, and conservation organizations; work includes various long-term monitoring and coordination of annual supplementation actions. Jim also provides technical support to WRIA 8 project planning, study design, monitoring implementation, and grant review.
Chris Gregersen, Environmental Scientist II / Fish Ecologist
Chris’s work at King County centers on stream ecology and fisheries, focusing mainly on monitoring river restoration and flood risk reduction projects to assess their benefits to juvenile salmonids and to help guide future projects. He also co-chairs the Water Resource Inventory Area 9 (WRIA 9) Implementation Technical Committee, which advises on the implementation of the Green/Duwamish Salmon Habitat Plan. Aside from this, Chris’s work encompasses a variety of fisheries, habitat, and water quality projects. These include the Lake Sammamish Kokanee supplementation project, adult salmon surveys, fish collection for toxicology assessment, de-fishing for restoration and construction projects, stream and riparian habitat surveys, habitat and landscape GIS analysis, and macroinvertebrate sampling.
Kollin Higgins, Environmental Scientist IV / Ecologist
Kollin’s current major work focus is to provide technical assistance to the ongoing Chinook salmon recovery efforts in the Green and Snoqualmie River systems. The Snoqualmie Farm Fish Flood (FFF) project and the Lower Green River System Wide Improvement Framework (SWIF) are examples of two large scale multi-objective planning programs where he has recently focused significant time and effort. Kollin was heavily involved in crafting the streamlined Agricultural Drainage Assistance Program and the update of King County’s Shoreline Master Plan.
Josh Kubo, Environmental Scientist II/Stream Ecologist
Josh works on a variety of riverine projects, including water quality monitoring, juvenile and adult salmonid assessments, and habitat conditions assessments. Currently, he is evaluating juvenile salmon habitat utilization in the Bear Creek Basin as part of the Bear Creek Watershed-Scale Stormwater Plan. His background includes experience with salmon recovery technical and policy efforts, salmon habitat restoration strategies, tribal treaty rights, and macroinvertebrate assessments.
Dan Lantz, Environmental Scientist II / Fish Ecologist
Dan plans and carries out fisheries and aquatic habitat surveys in lakes, streams, and rivers throughout King County. Much of his time is spent in the field conducting night snorkeling, boat and backpack electrofishing, and wading streams where he collects data for a multitude of projects that evaluate fish use, distribution, and general aquatic/riparian habitat conditions. Prior to working at King County, Dan spent 11 years with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Northern California and Washington working on various projects from bull trout distribution throughout Washington State to conducting culvert surveys on Federal lands.
Scott Stolnack, Environmental Scientist III / Watershed Ecologist
Scott is the Technical Coordinator for the scientific components of Chinook salmon recovery for the Lake Washington/Cedar/Sammamish Watershed (WRIA 8). His work involves coordinating scientists, monitoring, and research related to implementing the WRIA 8 Chinook salmon recovery plan. Recent issues include the effects of artificial light at night on juvenile salmon behavior and survival, and predation of salmon by native and non-native fish in Lake Washington. Scott’s skills and background include but are not limited to restoration and watershed ecology, endangered species recovery, monitoring, and environmental policy.
Mike Thai, Environmental Scientist II
Mike works on a variety of projects including marine shoreline monitoring, juvenile salmonid habitat assessments, and the Snoqualmie Farm Fish Flood (FFF) project. His current focus is on the marine shoreline monitoring project aimed at helping King County update its Shoreline Master Plan. Mike’s background is in large-scale riverine ecology researching food-webs and fish assemblages throughout whole river networks. He also has experience in small and large lake assessments, stream habitat and riparian surveys, and macroinvertebrate assessments.
Jen Vanderhoof, Environmental Scientist III / Wildlife Biologist- Ecologist
Jen’s work often focuses on issues related to wildlife and biodiversity (often beaver-related issues) and climate change (carbon sequestration calculations; Million Tree planting efforts). She frequently participates in projects that involve groups from King County Parks Division (ecological assessments of natural areas for development of Site Management Guidelines; participation in review of Stewardship Plans); Wastewater Treatment Division (Chinook Bend vegetation monitoring); the Director’s Office (Comprehensive Planning and Climate Change committees); and the Floodplain Management Section (review of Channel Migration Zone reports and landslide report; consultation on wildlife-related issues). Jen is currently the Project Manager for a shoreline and estuary restoration project at Saltwater State Park, and she is conducting the wetland and riparian analyses for the Bear Creek Basin Plan. Many of her projects involve GIS work, including land-change analysis. Jen appreciates the intersection of policy and science, and she participates in updating the King County Comprehensive Plan every four years.
David Funke, Engineer III / Hydrologist
David is the technical lead and manager for the Science Section’s Hydrologic Monitoring Program. He provides program design and planning services along with implementing and maintaining stream flow and water quality monitoring equipment, technologies and projects. The program is responsible for managing the hydrology database and conducting data QA/QC evaluations. The program currently operates over 300 continuously recording monitoring sites, including 75 telemetered stations.
Brendan Grant, Engineer II / Hydrologist
Brendan works within the Science Section’s Hydrologic Monitoring Program. While earning his BS degree in Geology, he was introduced to stream monitoring measuring technics and equipment. A few years later he started his 20 plus year career in stream gaging. He currently deploys data loggers in streams and measures stream parameters (discharge, level, temperature, dissolved oxygen, and conductivity). He is responsible for downloading data on site and remotely using cell phone telemetry. Brendan assesses and evaluates the data and custom builds Microsoft Access databases to process and store data on a web-accessible SQL Server.
Ian Higgins, Water Quality Planner I / Hydrologist
Ian holds a B.S. in Environmental Chemistry and an M.S. in Geoscience. Ian was first introduced to hydrology while an undergraduate via an internship in Oregon. Since this original foye into the discipline, he has worked on a variety of ichthyology, botany, hydrology, algae, and aquatic bacteria related projects. As a Water Quality Planner, Ian supports ongoing monitoring programs by deploying and maintaining in-situ hydrological and chemistry probes. Ian performs data acquisition and management for long-term monitoring projects and special studies. Ian also conducts statistical and geospatial analysis of hydrological data.
Andrew Miller, Water Quality Planner II / Hydrologist
Andrew is a water quality planner in the Watershed and Ecological Assessment Team. He supports ongoing monitoring programs that track general river and stream health via measurement and assessment of stream flow and in-stream concentrations of bacteria, nutrients, conventionals, and other parameters. Andrew is also involved in several special projects such as the Redmond Paired Watershed Study and microbial source tracking in Newaukum and Issaquah creeks.
Dan Smith, Engineer II / Hydrologist
Dan produces stream flow values from data recorded at King County’s many stream flow monitoring sites. This task is a process that includes the installation of field data recorders, field measurements over a range of flow conditions, and processing the data in the office.
Debra Bouchard, Water Quality Planner III / Senior Limnologist, Lead of the Lakes and Streams team
Debra is the project manager for the King County Swimming Beach Monitoring Program that seasonally tracks both fecal coliform bacteria and harmful algal blooms (HABs) throughout the county. She also manages the Routine Streams Monitoring Program and works on microbial source tracking efforts. Her work involves data analysis and reporting as well working collaboratively with local and state health and environmental agencies, local jurisdictions, citizen scientist groups, and the general public. Debra has been with the county since 1999. Prior to that she worked as a consultant developing nutrient budgets for numerous lakes around the Puget Sound area.
Tim Clark, Water Quality Planner I / Limnologist
Tim specializes in analyzing and interpreting water quality data for lakes and streams. His work spans from managing a floating wetlands project in a small, eutrophic lake in White Center to large-scale pollutant loading estimates as part of the County’s Combined Sewer Overflow Control Program. He joined King County in 2014. Tim has a MS in Environmental Sciences and a MPA from the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs. His limnological interests include stormwater pollution modeling and management, exploring applications of remote sensing using satellite imagery, and fostering environmental stewardship through civilian science, education, and effective communication.
Rachael Gravon, Water Quality Planner I / Limnologist
Rachael works as a project manager of the Lake Stewardship Program, a volunteer-based water quality monitoring program. She also manages phytoplankton and zooplankton monitoring in Lakes Sammamish, Union, and Washington. Her work involves program coordination, field work, data analysis, report generation, community outreach, and phytoplankton identification and enumeration. Rachael’s other skills and interests include photography and graphic design.
Chris Knutson, Water Quality Planner / Project Manager II
Chris is currently the co-manager of The King County Lake Stewardship Program. In addition, he manages the statewide Ecology database on harmful algal blooms; is the technical advisor on two Lake Management Districts; and responds to freshwater invasive species issues. Chris has also worked projects involving riparian restoration, critical areas effectiveness monitoring, and numerous microbial source tracking programs.
Daniel Nidzgorski, Water Quality Planner I / Limnologist
Daniel’s work focuses on King County’s long-term monitoring programs in large and small lakes, rivers, and streams – conducting fieldwork, managing and analyzing data, and writing up findings for public and technical audiences. He also works to track harmful algal blooms and bacterial concentrations at swimming beaches and other recreational sites. Daniel has a PhD in ecology from the University of Minnesota, and joined King County in 2017. His other skills and interests include advancing equity and social justice in the sciences, mentoring students, and developing engaging and effective scientific communications.
Sevin Bilir, Environmental Scientist IV, Hydrogeologist
Sevin provides project management and hydrogeologic and geologic technical services. She has provided groundwater reporting, database development, hydrogeologic characterizations, and 3 D geologic modeling for SWD at county landfills. Work for WTD included review and reporting on countywide groundwater levels in support of the Reclaimed Water Comprehensive Plan. Within WLRD, Sevin has provided technical and project management services on habitat restoration assessments, landslide mapping, channel migration zone studies, wetland banking mitigation reviews, historical water resources evaluation of Vashon–Maury Islands, and various field and reporting needs. Other work has involved climate change indicators and county operations performance measures and environmental indicators for annual reporting.
Before working at the County, her work focused on engineering and environmental geologic projects involving site characterization, remediation alternatives, groundwater flow modeling, 3-D geologic modeling, database development and field management of contaminated soils, rock, and groundwater sites.
Jeff Burkey, Engineer II, Hydrologist
Presently, Jeff is the project manager for the NPDES Phase I Municipal Stormwater Permit requirement to develop a Bear Creek stormwater management plan. He is also working with University of Washington Climate Impacts Group to characterizing climate change impacts on large rainfall events within King County. During the last several years, Jeff has developed watershed models; projected stormwater retrofit needs based on population growth projections; and evaluated climate change impacts on stormwater flow control facilities for an EPA-funded project in King County’s Green River Watershed.
Curtis DeGasperi, Engineer IV / Lead Hydrologist / Limnologist
Curtis provides technical support to various King County monitoring and modeling projects and manages the Major Lakes water quality monitoring efforts, including routine sampling, automated profiling buoys, and thermistor chains. Technical support activities include development and application of river and lake water quality models; stream flow, temperature and stream water quality data analysis; and analysis of stream benthos and riparian habitat data. Curtis has a BS degree in Biology-Geology, and his MS degree research focused on lake restoration. His post-graduate professional career led in other directions, including fresh and marine water, aquatic biota, and sediment contaminant investigations, and water and sediment quality modeling.
Eric Ferguson, Water Quality Planner III / Hydrogeologist
Eric provides technical support to the Groundwater Protection Program. Half of his work involves monitoring this resource on Vashon, Sammamish River Valley, and Lake Forest Park with the help of staff from the King County Environmental Laboratory. Current work includes updating the “A Report Card to the Community”—a set of indicators to measure the sustainability of Vashon-Maury Island water resources. The other half his work involves work for Science and Technical Support Section projects such as stream gaging, stream water quality review, and the Bear Creek Watershed-scale Stormwater Plan.
Wendy Eash-Loucks, Water Quality Planner II / Marine Scientist
Wendy provides support for King County’s marine water quality and sediment monitoring program. Her focus is on benthic invertebrate ecology, sediment quality, and bacteria. Specifically, she is the project lead for the marine sediment and beach water quality monitoring programs. Her work involves coordinating with other agencies, particularly the Washington Department of Ecology and the Department of Health. Wendy’s background and interests include marine ecology and invertebrate taxonomy; marine water quality (field work and data analysis); and marine sediment quality. Wendy is particularly interested in analyzing long-term trends in Puget Sound and also enjoy projects involving ArcGIS.
Stephanie Jaeger, Water Quality Planner I / Oceanographer
Stephanie supports King County’s Puget Sound water quality monitoring program, which includes reviewing and analyzing physical, chemical, and biological data to assess conditions and trends. She is the project lead for continuous real-time monitoring using moorings and ocean acidification assessment. Her work also involves working with other agencies and institutions to support coordinated monitoring efforts in Puget Sound. Stephanie completed her M.S. in Oceanography at Oregon State University. Her background and interests include but are not limited to biogeochemical cycling in marine systems, sensor development, and science education and outreach.
Ben Larson, Water Quality Planner II / Marine Scientist
Ben supports King County’s water quality monitoring program with a focus on biogeochemical dynamics and trend analysis of long term time series. He works with data from King County and Washington Department of Ecology to study the impact of nutrient loading and climate variability on Puget Sound water quality. His past work at NOAA focused on sensor development, gas chromatography, and the biogeochemistry of microbial habitats in underwater volcanoes, including the Axial Volcano just off the coast of Washington. Ben has a Ph.D. in Oceanography from University of Washington, and prior to that, worked as a science writer for The Oregonian. His interests include geochemical modeling, time series analysis, machine learning, and ocean engineering and field work, and he considers data wrangling to be a therapeutic past time.
Kim Stark, Senior Water Quality Planner III / Marine Biologist
Kim is the project manager for King County’s Marine Water Quality Monitoring Programs, including the phytoplankton and zooplankton programs. Her work supports a variety of special projects (such as siting of the Brightwater Treatment System marine outfall, eelgrass restoration, and a nitrogen management study in Quartermaster Harbor. Further, her work involves collaborating with other organizations conducting marine monitoring in Puget Sound (such as UW, Washington Department of Ecology, and NOAA). Kim’s skills and background include but are not limited to chemical and biological analyses (laboratory and field), marine biota, including charismatic megafauna and marine birds.
Larry Jones, Program Manager III, Special Programs
Larry’s current Science and Technical Support Section work program consists of assisting the Section Manager and Supervisors with implementing various elements of the Science Business Plan and ongoing work programs. His responsibilities also include being the Water and Land Resource Division Equity and Social Justice Program’s representative and coordinator along with coordinating a portion of the Division’s Performance Management programs. As a former Senior Wastewater Facilities Planner, he was responsible for planning and developing projects ranging from water reuse; conducting research into new Wastewater Treatment technologies; producing the facilities and service area status reports; environmental impact assessments; including council resolutions and ordinances.
Debbie Ervin, Administrative Specialist II
Debbie is currently the Administrative Specialist and financial support for the 40-plus employees of the Science and Technical Support Section. She oversees the day to day operations of the section, including employee needs, equipment, and vendor payments. Along with her administrative duties, she “KEEPS FOLKS HAPPY.” Debbie is working on getting a degree in Oracle/Science.
Tom Ventur, Graphic Designer
Tom is responsible for supporting Science and Technical Support Section employee final report product output. His duties include formatting, proofing, and preparing scientific reports for hardcopy and web publication. He also does digital image compositing/Photoshop work, performs magic with Adobe Acrobat, helps out with MS Word and its many enigmas, and performs a host of varied day-to-day duties. Tom’s responsibility is to make the section’s products professional, functional, and aesthetically pleasing.
Dawn Duddleson, Research Librarian
Dawn is the librarian for the King County Water and Land Resources Division and the King County Wastewater Treatment Division. She conducts research and gathers information for division staff. Dawn also maintains a collection of reports created by or for the King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks, and before that by the Municipality of Metropolitan Seattle.
Jenée Colton, Water Quality Planner III / Ecotoxicologist
Jenée has over 20 years of experience as an environmental scientist. At King County, she designs and conducts studies and manages projects that address chemical contamination of water, sediments, and fish. Jenée leads King County’s Marine Fish Tissue Toxics Monitoring program which tracks chemical bioaccumulation in Puget Sound fish over time. She also provides technical services on contaminated sediments, stormwater contamination and treatment, and water quality projects. Her specialties include chemical bioaccumulation in fish, air deposition of chemicals, and PCB contamination issues. Before King County, Jenée worked in the environmental consulting field on cleanup site characterizations and ecological risk assessments.
Carly Greyell, Water Quality Planner II / Ecotoxicologist
Carly has worked with King County since 2013 helping wastewater and stormwater managers with issues around chemicals in the environment. Her job consists of data analysis, technical report writing, data validation, project planning, and literature reviews for projects in the Toxicology and Contaminant Assessment Group. Recent and ongoing projects include stormwater treatment effectiveness studies, fish tissue monitoring for contaminants, and source control projects related to the Lower Duwamish Waterway.
Richard Jack, Water Quality Planner III
Richard has over 25 years of contaminant and habitat assessment experience to help other King County sections investigate and remedy contaminated land and sediments, especially those at habitat restoration sites. He is also the technical lead for a variety of special studies investigating water quality issues at wet weather treatment facilities along with the movement and partitioning of PCBs through the environment. Richard serves as a technical expert for the department on chemicals of emerging concern, such as hormones and pharmaceuticals. He also provides technical support on department-wide policy issues such as state and federal water quality standards and updates to related guidance documents.
Liora Llewellyn, Water Quality Planner I
Liora is an environmental scientist and geographer with over 15 years of experience working in freshwater, marine and terrestrial ecosystems. For King County, Liora is investigating the stressors affecting aquatic insects and working on recommendations to restore and protect stream basins within the Puget Sound region. Her work includes field sampling, vegetation monitoring, geospatial analysis, water quality and habitat analysis, wetland delineation and support of other projects in the Science Section.
Kate Macneale, Environmental Scientist III / Stream Ecologist
Kate is an aquatic ecologist with a keen interest in streams and the communities they support. Her work has focused on aquatic insects and salmonids, and the stressors that can affect them. Her most recent projects have focused on quantifying stormwater BMP effectiveness, studying possible thermal benefits of restoring wood to streams, and evaluating how macroinvertebrate communities can help inform the restoration and protection of stream basins. Before joining King County, Kate was a post doc and research scientist at NOAA's Northwest Fisheries Science Center where she studied the effects of non-native species and contaminants on juvenile salmon and their prey.
Rory O’Rourke, Water Quality Planner II / Ecotoxicologist
Rory analyzes metal and organic chemical data in water, sediment, fish tissue, and shellfish tissue for both freshwater and marine environments. He will be preparing technical reports that summarize the findings and will also be supporting the rest of the team with a variety of tasks dealing with contaminant issues. This information will help King County, state, and federal agencies assess progress on human health and ecological impacts from these contaminants in different media. His background includes toxicology, environmental health, risk assessment, site remediation and cleanup, algal toxin monitoring, environmental justice, and permitting.
Beth Sosik, Water Quality Planner/ Project Manager I
Beth is an ecologist with 10 years of experience working in the marine and freshwater environments of the Pacific Northwest, with a particular focus on habitat quality. She is currently focused on King County’s macroinvertebrate monitoring program, and she will provide support for a variety of other ecological projects within the Science section. She performs statistical and geospatial analysis, data management and field sampling, as well as technical report writing.
Debra Williston, Water Quality Planner III
Debra is an environmental scientist with 25 years of experience in conducting water and sediment quality assessments and ecological risk assessments. Over the last 15 years, she has focused on contaminated sediment sites. Debra is a member of the technical team conducting remedial investigations and feasibility studies for both the Lower Duwamish Waterway and East Waterway Superfund sites, and is the coordinator of King County’s Lower Duwamish Waterway Source Control Implementation Plan. She also provides technical and project management support for various WTD Sediment Management Plan work products, marine tissue monitoring studies, as well as source control investigations and other special studies (e.g., Fisher Study, Activated Carbon Pilot Study, pre-design studies) that support the Superfund sites.
Dean Wilson, Senior Water Quality Planner III
Dean is currently working on the CSO Water Quality Assessment and Monitoring Study, as part of a large multidisciplinary team investigating current water quality conditions and the effects of combined sewer overflows (CSOs) in the waters where CSOs discharge. This effort will inform the Wastewater Treatment Division’s Long-term CSO Control Plan, which is planning to invest almost $1 billion to control the last remaining CSOs in King County.