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

Nikki Behnke
Nikki is a graduate student in the MSPH program in the Environmental Sciences and Engineering department. Nikki’s master’s research is focused on environmental health of forcibly displaced populations. She is leading a systematic scoping review that has split into three papers—one for each UNHCR phase of displacement (emergency, mid-term, and protracted). During the summer of 2018 she worked in Jordan with World Vision [more]


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 [more]


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]


Emma Kelly
Emma is a graduate student in the MSPH program in the Environmental Sciences and Engineering department. She uses qualitative, quantitative and geospatial methods to evaluate the sustainability of rural water supplies in sub-Saharan Africa. She is passionate about WaSH and believes in the importance of bringing research and practice closer together. In her master’s research, she is exploring the respective roles of sanitary inspections and [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 MSPH 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]


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).

If you are an enrolled UNC student, please contact Emma Kelly. If you are NOT an enrolled student, please send an email to The Water Institute.