Maney Publishing and the International Desalination Association (IDA) recently announced the appointment of Dr. Isabel C. Escobar as the new editor-in-chief of the IDA Journal of Desalination and Water Reuse and will succeed Dr. Jim Birkett, who steps down this year after a long and dedicated service to the journal. In this Online Exclusive interview, Water Technology’s Editorial Director Rich DiPaolo interviewed Dr. Escobar for some more insight into her background and experience in desalination.

 

Rich DiPaolo: Please explain your background in the industry and the key attributes you bring to the position of Editor-in-Chief.

Dr. Isabel C. Escobar: First, let me start by saying how excited I am about being chosen by IDA and Maney Publishing to be the new Editor-In-Chief of the Journal of Desalination and Water Reuse. Dr. Jim Birkett has devoted much effort to making the Journal a success, and I am looking forward to taking the Journal to the next level and make it the premier journal in the field of desalination and water reuse.

I am a full professor in the Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering at the University of Toledo, Ohio, USA. My research focuses on methods to improve membrane separations through material modifications and process modifications for the treatment of low quality waters, such as wastewater for reuse applications, at low costs.

As lead investigator, I have received over $1million (US) in research funding from competitive sources, such as National Science Foundation and Department of Interior U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. I have one patent on anti-microbial feed spacers for reverse osmosis spiral wound elements, and have published over 50 articles in peer-reviewed journals. I was invited to give session keynote addresses at the 2008 and 2011 International Conference on Membranes (Hawaii, July 2008, and Amsterdam, July 2011), to present at the 2012 V Workshop on Reuse of Water and Effluents, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil, and to present at the 2013 International Conference on Materials for Advanced Technologies (ICMAT), Singapore.

I have edited two books in the field of desalination, water reuse and membrane separations. The first one, I edited with Professor Andrea Schaefer (University of Edinburgh, Scotland), and it was entitled Sustainable Water for the Future—Water Recycling versus Desalination (Elsevier Science, The Netherlands: 2009. ISBN: 9780444531155). The second book was edited with Professor Bart Van der Bruggen (K.U. Leuven, Belgium) entitled Modern Applications in Membrane Science and Technology (ACS Symposium Series; American Chemical Society: Washington, DC, 2011. ISBN: 9780841226180).

I have also chaired/co-chaired dozens of sessions on membrane materials and separations at professional meetings and three conferences: 2006 American Water Works Association (AWWA) Desalination Symposium (Honolulu, Hawaii); 2007 North American Membrane Society (NAMS) Annual Meeting (Orlando, Florida); and 2012 NAMS Annual Meeting (New Orleans, Louisiana). Lastly, I have been a member of the NAMS Board of Directors since 2005.

In 2011, I received the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) Kunesh Award. In 1997, I was awarded an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Science To Achieve Results (STAR) Fellow. In 2000, I received a Ph.D. degree in Environmental Engineering from the University of Central Florida.

 

RD: What are the Journal’s mission and vision statements and what is your plan to carry out these goals?

Dr. Isabel C. Escobar: The Journal of Desalination and Water Reuse is the technical Journal of IDA. The IDA Journal publishes articles on all aspects of desalination and water reuse research and practice, providing professionals and academics engaged in the desalination and water reuse industry with invaluable insights into existing and emerging technologies and practices that help improve current operations and shape future strategies. Topics covered by the IDA Journal include:         

  • Membrane technologies
  • Thermal desalination technologies
  • Alternative separation technologies
  • Alternative energy sources
  • Environment and public health
  • Pre- and post-treatment
  • Materials
  • Energy use and efficiency
  • Recycling and reuse.

 

To achieve this goal, I plan to work closely with IDA and Maney Publishing to publicize the Journal and solicit manuscripts. Manuscripts will be reviewed in a single-blind manner with prompt evaluation and timely scheduling for publication. We will also appoint an Editorial Advisory Board made up of leading experts in desalination to help us stay on the goal of making the Journal the premier desalination journal.

 

RD: How is the Journal transitioning from Dr. Jim Birkett and what, if any, initial changes do you anticipate making to the Journal’s direction?

Dr. Isabel C. Escobar: First, let me say that Dr. Birkett has done an outstanding job as Editor for so many years, and I am honored to follow in his footsteps. Dr. Birkett, IDA and Maney Publishing are all working closely with me to make the transition as smooth as possible. The initial changes will involve the fully electronic nature of the Journal, such as electronic submission by authors and electronic publications.

Regarding other initial changes, my main goal during the interview process and now has been to make the Journal the leading resource for the latest in desalination technology. The first change authors will see is the request for Rapid Communication manuscripts. These will be short manuscripts that discuss new and emerging desalination technologies and discoveries. We will expedite review and publication of these pieces (if they are accepted) so that our readership can become familiarized with the future in desalination.

Authors will have to explain why the manuscript submission is a new technology, process or discovery and as noted, we will endeavor to publish their submission in a timely manner that should help them with visibility. Regular manuscripts will also receive a faster turnaround since I strongly believe that it is important for both authors and readers to have timely publications.

 

RD: What specifically interested you most about the Journal of Desalination and Water Reuse and IDA?

Dr. Isabel C. Escobar: I have worked in desalination since my time as a PhD student, so IDA has always been an important influence and resource for my career, and I have always kept up with the Association and its publications. What has interested me the most regarding the Journal is the openness of IDA and Maney Publishing to changes. Being able to take a reemerging Journal to the next level is a great challenge and opportunity, which is very exciting to me. Furthermore, I am excited about becoming the Editor since the Journal focuses on two of the most important topics in water treatment, desalination and water reuse, with the capability of addressing the global water situation.

 

RD: What are you looking forward to the most in this new position?  

Dr. Isabel C. Escobar: I will have to use a previous response here since what attracted me to the Journal is also what I am looking forward the most — being able to take a reemerging journal to the next level is a great challenge and opportunity. Working with leading desalination authors and experts will also be a great perk of this new position.