Statement of Research Objectives

My research objectives are to use engineering to solve problems that threaten public health.  My current research, and the subject of my doctoral dissertation, is the development and evaluation of an improved groundwater remediation technique.  I used computational fluid dynamics and laboratory experiments to explore the fluid mechanics and validate the technology.

In public health, solutions are only sustainable if education and outreach is a fundamental component to interventions.  I am also very interested in research in education (formal schooling and informal) and outreach (such as focused educational programs).  Education of the public on current events and contemporary research (such as climate change) is critical for an informed democracy.  The role of education in water resources has only begun to be explored.

Moving forward, I plan to work on engineering solutions to water and sanitation problems.  Our world’s water resources are threatened by contamination (e.g., pathogens spread by feces), groundwater contamination (by industrial waste or natural sources), and saltwater intrusion.  In my career I would like to address these problems in three areas: technology, infrastructure, and education.  This area of study is motivated by the overwhelming need for improvements in the developing world.  Every 14 to 15 seconds someone dies from diarrhea, usually a child in a developing country.  This is unacceptable.  Mortality can be significantly reduced by improved sanitation, appropriate water treatment, and education.  Unfortunately, population, climate change, and urbanization in developing regions continue to endanger water supplies and overload sanitation efforts.  Advances are needed in technology, but also, implementation and urban planning.  Of course, these actions will only be sustainable with extensive education efforts.

The demand for these solutions will increase in the future.  In a related subject, climate change is an issue that greatly impacts water resources and agriculture.  For example, in Bangladesh, most agricultural areas are on the river delta.  With current sea level rise predictions coupled with longer flooding periods, Bangladeshis stand to effectively loose most of their agricultural land.  More research is needed on the implications of a decrease of the growing season and impact on water resources.  Climate change must hold a central role to research on safe water and sustainable agriculture.  This type of research presents unique opportunities to study learning by communities as well as by undergraduate research assistants in service-learning positions.  Furthermore, these problems are not exclusive to the developing world; domestically, this work presents opportunities for hands-on and inquiry-based lessons for K-16 students.  Research on service learning is needed as universities increase these types of programs.

My research goal is to use my expertise in environmental engineering in a global health setting to help governments, communities, and individuals safeguard and improve their health and well being.  I believe that education should be incorporated into global health initiatives to increase efficacy and sustainability.