Kristen Downs

PhD Program
Environmental Sciences and Engineering
Advisor: Dr. Dale Whittington

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 such as environmental change, development and population growth. Kristen’s research focuses on modeling the risks, uncertainties and economic implications associated with climate change impacts on waterborne disease, as mediated by the service quality of water and sanitation infrastructure and its interactions with weather variability and extreme events. She is also interested in the monitoring and sustainability of rural water supply and sanitation. Prior to pursuing her PhD at UNC, Kristen obtained her MS in Environmental Engineering at the Johns Hopkins University in 2010 and her BS in Chemistry, with a minor in French, from the University of Florida in 2006. After her PhD, she would like to further develop her skills in the intersecting fields of water, energy and climate.

Research Interests
  • Environmental engineering
  • Climate change
  • Water and sanitation sustainability
  • Policy and economics
Email: Kristen Downs