To learn more about becoming a Water Institute affiliated student, please click here.


Rachel Baum
Rachel is interested in finding solutions to improve water resource management for a world that is facing growing water stresses. Rachel previously worked on developing a framework to measure progress on the human right to water and sanitation, redefining progress on access to improved sanitation, and understanding truly improved drinking water sources through accounting for microbial quality. All of this work has helped inspire her to search for solutions [more]


brownKaty M. Brown
Katy is trained in environmental microbiology, soil science, and hydrology as well as qualitative research and community organizing targeting racial and gender equity. She is currently a doctoral student under the advisement of Dr. Jamie Bartram at the Water Institute. Her research focuses on access to sanitation and waste management, specifically the intersection of menstrual hygiene, fecal sludge management, and the built environment.


Elizabeth Christenson
Elizabeth is an AAUW (American Association of University Women) fellow whose master’s research is improving access to industrial hog farm data among an interdisciplinary team of government officials, environmental modelers, microbiologists, and epidemiologists. She is mapping sprayfields to analyze demographic patterns and potential health and environmental impacts of sprayfields in North Carolina using spatial statistics and other modeling techniques. [more]


connollyKatie Connolly
Katie is pursuing a Master of Science in Public Health in the Environmental Sciences and Engineering Department. Her current research focuses on climate change adaptation in water and wastewater utilities and water professionals’ perceptions of climate change risk and adaptation efficacy. After completing her masters degree, Katie hopes to continue working in the field of climate change adaptation, specifically as it relates to water resources and sanitation. Research interests: Climate change and WASH Climate change adaptation and resilience Risk perception and decision-making Hazard mitigation


Kristen Downs
Kristen’s interest in water and sanitation issues in developing countries began when teaching high school science in the Peace Corps in Kenya and has since led to water and sanitation fieldwork in Mozambique and South Africa with UNC, UNICEF, and Engineers Without Borders. Her primary interests include how infrastructural planning and policies and technology development can be used to provide sustainable services in the face of uncertainties [more]


fechterAllison Fechter
Allison helps develop Monitoring Evaluation and Learning (MEL) programs for Water Institute partners. She is also involved with MEL training, and has helped train partners in Niger, Ghana, and Nepal. Her Master’s research addresses the relationship between water system management and sustainability and how MEL can be used to better understand this relationship. Before coming to UNC, Allison worked for an engineering firm that gave her the opportunity to support a wide range of international development projects.


fleming-letterboxLisa Fleming
Lisa’s research is aimed at improving local sanitation planning to reduce environmental health threats from fecal pollution. She is specifically focused on developing pathogen die-off models to assist planners, donors, researchers, and engineers in assessing hazard of different sanitation technologies. Prior to joining the Water Institute she lived and worked in Sri Lanka for two years with Sewalanka (a Sri Lankan NGO), and in partnership with the Sri Lankan Government, JICA, and UNDP.


guoAmy Guo
Amy is a research assistant and an undergraduate student in the Department of Environmental Sciences & Engineering (ESE). She began her work with the Water Institute in 2013 under Dr. Pete Kolsky and Dr. Georgia Kayser, assisting in the design and analysis of a baseline study of WaSH in rural households, schools, health care facilities, and water points in ten sub-Saharan African countries. She also has an interest in water microbiology; under the guidance of Dr. Jill Stewart, she is working on a study characterizing Staphylococcus aureus survival in water exposed to sunlight.


Sarah Hatcher
Sarah is a fourth-year PhD student and NSF GRFP fellow whose research focuses on the environmental and occupational health impacts of industrial animal production in North Carolina. Through recent work, she studied the presence multidrug-resistant S. aureus and MRSA in surface water near industrial animal operations. Her current research investigates pediatric exposure to zoonotic multidrug-resistant bacteria among children of [more]


David A. Holcomb

David is a PhD student using environmental microbiology to evaluate water and sanitation infrastructure. He received his bachelor’s in environmental science from UNC and researched the impacts of climate change on forest biodiversity and on access to water and sanitation infrastructure before returning to UNC for his graduate studies. In his dissertation research, David is using molecular detection and stochastic modeling to characterize [more]


Meghan Miller
Meghan is a graduate student in the M.S.P.H. program in the Environmental Sciences and Engineering department. Her research addresses the sustainability of rural drinking water systems in sub-Saharan Africa. She is specifically focused on solar-powered drinking water systems. Her duties include working with NGOs, local governments and communities to identify the formal and informal processes that promote sustainability in solar-powered [more]


Karen Setty
Karen is working toward her PhD under Dr. Jamie Bartram, focused on evidence-based decision making in the WaSH sector. Her primary research interests include the science/policy interface, appropriate technologies to prevent waterborne disease, and decision-support tools for water and sanitation. Originally from Youngstown, Ohio, she previously studied Environmental Biology at the University of Dayton and earned a Master’s in Environmental Science and Management [more]


Hai-Ryung Sung
Hai-Ryung has a M.P.H from University of North Carolina. While she is studying in the Department of Maternal and Child Health, she realized that additional research is still needed in the field of water, sanitation and hygiene as it relates to maternal and child health. Her research is focused on improving Maternal and Child Health through better WaSH facilities and behavior changes at health care facilities such as delivery environment in Cambodia. [more]


Vidya Venkataramanan
Vidya joined the Water Institute in 2012 as a PhD student. Her research is focused on understanding the nature and effectiveness of sanitation behavior change interventions, specifically Community-led Total Sanitation (CLTS). She is also interested in assessing the impact of rural-urban migration on sanitation behavior. While at UNC, Vidya has conducted a systematic literature review on the effectiveness of CLTS, and is currently gathering field data [more]


Interested in Becoming a Water Institute Affiliated Student?

Being a Water Institute affiliated student is a valuable and exciting experience that presents numerous opportunities for growth.

Students affiliated with the Water Institute are registered students at UNC and have active interest in water-health-environment linkages through their own research, Engineers Without Borders (EWB) or other pursuits. Typically, Water Institute students work in one or more of the Water Institute focus areas and with faculty advisors affiliated with The Institute. We encourage Water Institute affiliated students to pursue an interdisciplinary outlook on their work, maintain high academic standards and actively network among their fellow Water Institute affiliates. As a Water Institute student affiliate, you will have the opportunity to:

  • Collaborate with other students, share your research ideas and receive feedback in a safe environment.
  • Contribute to ongoing Water Institute research, thereby constantly expanding the comprehensiveness of your own research.
  • Hone your presentation skills and receive constructive feedback at the Water Institute’s biweekly, free-lunch seminars. This is a perfect forum to improve communication of your research to a diverse audience.
  • Volunteer and receive complimentary registration at Water Institute hosted conferences, which provide excellent learning and networking opportunities with hundreds of professionals from around the world.
  • Receive alerts for funding opportunities that emerge from The Water Institute. Although direct funding is not provided, student affiliates receive alerts to external opportunities.
  • Be a part of a community that has a shared passion for improving health and promoting development through water, sanitation and hygiene (WaSH).

For further information contact Meghan Miller.