Brown Water Group

School of Civil & Environmental Engineering @ the Georgia Institute of Technology


Joe Brown PhD PE (PI) is an environmental engineer with interests in water and sanitation for underserved communities. Following a BS in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of Alabama, Joe gained a Master’s degree in Environment and Development from Cambridge University and a PhD in Environmental Sciences and Engineering from UNC’s Gillings School of Global Public Health in 2007. He is currently Assistant Professor in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology. Previously, he was Lecturer in Water and Health in the Department of Disease Control, Faculty of Infectious and Tropical Diseases, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), University of London. Joe has also been a consultant with UNICEF, the World Health Organization, the World Bank, and numerous other organizations on topics related to water and sanitation. He has an adjunct appointment in the Department of Environmental Health, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University and is affiliated faculty in the Center for Global Safe WASH. He maintains PE licensure in NC and AL.

David Berendes PhD MSPH is an interdisiplinary epidemiologist interested in evidence-based, sustainable, and applied public health solutions to water, sanitation, and hygiene-related diseases. David completed his BS in Molecular Biology from Duke University (Go Blue Devils**) and his MSPH in Global Epidemiology from Emory University. He worked as a research assistant and ORISE fellow in the International Emergency and Refugee Health Branch of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the wake of the Haiti cholera epidemic from 2010 to 2012 before returning to Emory to complete his PhD with Dr. Christine Moe. His dissertation work focused on how coverage of toilets and fecal sludge management in urban neighborhoods is associated with fecal contamination in the public and private (household) domain and enteric infection in children. Currently, he is a post-doctoral fellow in the Brown Water Group, managing a rotavirus vaccine effectiveness trial nested within an ongoing urban sanitation intervention in Maputo and evaluating the effects of sanitation and the urban environment on antimicrobial resistance in enteric pathogens.

Aaron Bivins MSEnvE PE is licensed civil engineer with interests in the relationship between microbial water quality and public health.  He earned his BSCE from Georgia Tech in May of 2007. After five years in engineering consultaning, he returned to Georgia Tech with a narrowed interest in water quality. Following the completion of his MSEnvE, he began his research assistantship with Dr. Brown in the spring of 2014. His PhD Thesis focuses on assessing the human health risks posed by "improved" drinking water sources in low income countries that are subject to operational and maintenance difficulties including intermittent service and hydraulic transients. His goal is to develop a QMRA tool appropriate for use in data scarce contexts which is still capable of incorporating multiple layers of uncertainty to predict human health impacts of microbiologically contaminated water. When not in the lab, reading, or writing, Aaron can be found fly fishing for trout in the rivers and streams of north Georgia.

Jackie Knee MSPH is a public health scientist interested in the field of water, sanitation and hygiene and the interface between environmental microbiology and human health. Following the completion of her BSPH and MSPH degrees at the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Jackie earned a Fulbright Fellowship and spent a year abroad researching stored rainwater quality in rural Thailand. Upon her return to the U.S., she worked as an environmental scientist in the Waterborne Disease Prevention Branch at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention before making the decision to return to school and earn her doctorate degree. Jackie is currently in her first semester as a PhD student at Georgia Tech and is researching the relationships between improved sanitation, population density, and child health in peri-urban, informal settlements in Maputo, Mozambique. Outside of work, Jackie can be found running on the Atlanta beltline, eating frozen yogurt, and taking her pup to the dog park.

Trent Sumner MS is a second year PhD student at Georgia Tech working on the MapSan study in Mozambique and soil transmitted helminths in the rural American South. Before returning to Tech for a PhD he served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Togo, where he started off teaching and ended up working in rural water and sanitation, where he could put his Tech engineering skill set to best use.

Kevin Zhu is a second year PhD student at Georgia Tech working on novel approaches to fecal source tracking, with funding from NSF. He has served as a TA for the core graduate course CEE 6311: Microbial Principles. He even lifts.

Olivia Ginn is a first year PhD student at Georgia Tech, passionate about learning to use her skills as an Environmental Engineer to solve water, sanitation and public health related problems and will be working on a project that looks at the effects of poor sanitation on air quality and associated risks. She is returning to Tech after spending about a year in the engineering consulting world. Apart from work and school, you'll most likely find Olivia on top of a mountain somewhere in the world.

Drew Capone is a first year PhD student working on fecal sludge management in Maputo, Mozambique. A native of New Jersey, Drew joined the group after serving as a US Peace Corps Volunteer in Mozambique, where he taught secondary school math and chemistry. When not in the lab, Drew is an avid hiker and enjoys geocaching.

Victoria Dean is an Environmental Engineering PhD student at Georgia Tech. She is currently working on a CDC-funded project that characterizes antibiotic resistance in concentrated poultry feeding operations and its impacts on environmental waters. She has also assisted with the sanitation studies for Maputo, Mozambique. Victoria received her B.S. from The University of Texas at Austin Petroleum Engineering, and has worked in the oil and gas industry for a few years. Amidst this career change, Victoria also taught high school Algebra I/II for a semester. Fun fact: Victoria enjoys playing her keytar and her electric drumset in her free time.

Amanda Lai is a first year PhD student working on antimicrobial resistance in environmental media.

Cat Reynolds is a first year masters student at Georgia Tech working on the MapSan project in Mozambique. She completed her bachelors in Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Virginia, where she worked in the Limpopo Province of South Africa with emerging drinking water sanitation technologies. Outside of Georgia Tech, Cat is a devoted yogi and a lover of all things outdoor.

Yufan Lu is an MS student studying quantitative microbial risk assessment and cholera risk.

Arjun Bir is focused on development and dissemination of the Oasis water quality test, a low-cost, semi-quantitative test for E. coli.

Olivia Stehr is an undergraduate assistant on the Alabama EPA project and molecular analysis of DEUF samples.

Ann Johnson is an undergradate biological sciences major developing and testing low-cost water quality sensors. She hopes to go to medical school soon.

Winnie Zambrana is working on molecular analysis of MapSan samples and biomarkers of environmental enteric dysfunction.

Lauren Aycock is working on population density measurements for MapSan.

Former group members

Richard Chunga PhD was co-advised with Dr. Jeroen Ensink of LSHTM. Richard is a SHARE-funded student originally from Malawi, where he has worked extensively on sanitation with WaterAID and other organizations.  He has an MSc in Water Management from Cranfield University, an MSc in Project Planning and Management from the University of Bradford, and a BSc in Agriculture and Rural Development from the University of Malawi.  His PhD work focused on ecological sanitation uptake in peri-urban areas of Lilongwe and Blantyre City: "Investigating factors affecting the adoption of ecological sanitation in peri-urban areas: application of the theory planned behaviour". He (successfully) defended his thesis in 2015.

Ameer Shaheed PhD was co-advised with Prof. Sandy Cairncross at LSHTM. Before joining LSHTM, Ameer worked at the World Health Organization.  He received an MSc in Environmental Engineering from Imperial College London and a BSc (Hons) in Biochemistry from the University of Warwick. His field-based PhD research has taken him to Cambodia, Zambia, and Pakistan. He (successfully) defended his thesis in 2015.

Michelo Simuyandi was co-advised with Dr. Val Curtis at LSHTM. Originally trained as a teacher, Michelo comes to LSHTM from the University of Cape Town, where he received a BSc (Hons) in Molecular and Cell Biology and an MSc in Radiation Oncology. He is a researcher with CIDRZ, Zambia, and previously was a member of the Tropical Gastroenterology and Nutrition (TROPGAN) group at the University of Zambia, School of Medicine. He recently led a randomized, controlled trial on a safe water intervention in urban Lusaka, the subject of his PhD work.

Sid Patel is an MS student working on anti-microbial resistance (AMR) in fecal wastes, contributing to the MapSan project. He specializes in amazing meme-ology.

Nikunj Khelurkar MS EIT completed his MS in EnvE in 2016. His work in the group focused on quantitative microbial risk assessment and water quality in the Ganges River.

Andrew Loo MS EIT received his MS in EnvE in 2015.

Farran Bush assisted on MapSan sample processing.

Kelsey Eichbauer assisted with spatial analysis and GIS for MapSan.

Valeria Angulo Hernandez worked on molecular methods.

Samantha Becker received her BS in Civil Engineering at Georgia Tech.

Shannon Evanchec co-founded Drinkably with Samantha Becker. Also while at Georgia Tech, Shannon has co-oped for Center for Transportation and the Environment and studied abroad at Georgia Tech Lorraine.

Lorenzo Tolentino worked on low-cost water quality testing in India. A recent BS in EnvE grad from Georgia Tech, he's currently working on a number of projects in international development.

Rebecca Yoo was an undergraduate researcher with the group, now working in industry.


Peer-reviewed journal articles


Chunga, R., Jenkins, M.W., Ensink, J., and Brown, J. 2017. Moving up the sanitation ladder with the help of microfinance in urban Malawi. Journal of Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene for Development DOI: 10.2166/washdev.2017.186. [abstract]

Bivins, A., Sumner, T., Kumpel, E., Howard, G., Cumming, O., Ross, I., Nelson, K., Brown, J.   2017. Estimating infection risks and the global burden of diarrheal disease attributable to intermittent water supply using QMRA.  Environmental Science and Technology 51(13):7542–7551. DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.7b01014 [full text]

Berendes, D., Sumner, T., and Brown, J.  2017. Safely managed sanitation for all means fecal sludge management for at least 1.8 billion people in low and middle income countries.  Environmental Science and Technology 51(5): 3074–3083. DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.6b06019 [abstract]

Burt, Z., Njee, R.M., Mbatia, Y., Msimbe, V., Brown, J., Clasen, T.F., Malebo, H.M., and Ray, I.  2017. User preferences and willingness to pay for safe drinking water: experimental evidence from rural Tanzania.  Social Science and Medicine 173: 63-71. [full text].


Chunga, R., Jenkins, M.W., Ensink, J., and Brown, J.  2016. Adopt or adapt: sanitation technology choices in urbanising Malawi.  PLoS ONE 11(8): e0161262. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0161262. [full text]

Brown, J., Hamoudi, A., Jeuland, M., and Turrini, G.  2016. Seeing, believing, and behaving: Heterogeneous effects of an information intervention on household water treatment.  Journal of Environmental Economics and Management (accepted). [full text]

Marois-Fiset, J.-T., Shaheed, A. Brown, J., Dorea, C.  2016. Laboratory evaluation of a new coagulant/disinfectant POU water treatment product for emergencies.  Journal of Applied Microbiology 121(3):892-902. doi: 10.1111/jam.13206. [full text]

Stauber, C., Wedgworth, J., Johnson, P.D., Olson, J., Ayers, T., Elliott, M., and Brown, J.  2016. Associations between self-reported gastrointestinal illness and water system characteristics in community water supplies in rural Alabama: a cross-sectional study.  PLoS ONE [full text].

Mohamed, H., Clasen, T., Mussa, R., Malebo, H.M., Mbuligwe, S., and Brown, J.  2016. Microbiological Effectiveness of household water treatment technologies under field use conditions in rural Tanzania.  Tropical Medicine & International Health 21(1):33-40. [abstract]


Jeuland, M., Orgill, J., Shaheed, A., Revell, G., and Brown, J.  2015. A matter of good taste: Investigating preferences for in-house water treatment in peri-urban communities in Cambodia.  Environment and Development Economics DOI: 10.1017/S1355770X15000248. [abstract]

Brown, J., Cumming, O., Bartram, J., Cairncross, S., Ensink, J., Holcomb, D., Kolsky, P., Knee, J., Liang, K., Liang, S., Nala, R., Norman, G., Rheingans, R., Stewart, J., Zavale, O., Zuin, V., Schmidt, W.P.  2015. A controlled, before-after trial of an urban sanitation intervention to reduce enteric infections in children: research protocol for the Maputo Sanitation (MapSan) study, Mozambique.  BMJ-Open doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2015-008215. [full text

Wedgworth, J.C., Brown, J., Olson, J.B., Elliott, M., Grammer, P. and Stauber, C.E. 2015.  Temporal heterogeneity of water quality from rural water supplies in Alabama. Journal of the American Water Works Association 107(8): E401-E415. [abstract]

Mohamed, H., Brown, J., Mussa, R., Clasen, T., Malebo, H.M., and Mbuligwe, S.  2015.  Point of use chlorination of turbid water in Tanzania.  Journal of Water and Health 13(2):544-552. [abstract]


Wedgworth, J.C., Brown, J., Johnson, P., Olson, J., Elliott, M., Forehand, R., and Stauber, C.E.  2014.  Associations between perceptions of drinking water service delivery and measured drinking water quality in rural Alabama.  International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 11(7): 7376-7392. [full text]

Heijnen, M., Cumming, O., Peletz, R., Chan, G., Brown, J., Clasen, T. 2014. Shared sanitation: a systematic review.  PLoS ONE.  DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0093300. [full text]

Shaheed, A., Orgill, J., Montgomery, M., Jeuland, M., Brown, J.  2014.  Why “improved” water sources are not always safe.  Bulletin of the World Health Organization 92: 283-289. [full text]

Shaheed, A., Orgill, J., Ratana, C., Montgomery, M.A., Jeuland, M.A., Brown, J.  2014. Water quality risks of "improved" water sources: evidence from Cambodia.  Tropical Medicine & International Health 19(2): 186-194. [full text]

Presser, E., Simuyandi, M., Brown, J.  2014.  The effects of storage time and temperature on recovery of salivary immunoglobulin A.  American Journal of Human Biology.  DOI: 10.1002/ajhb.22525. [abstract]

Izenberg, M., Johns-Yost, O., Johnson, P.D., and Brown, J.  2014. Nocturnal convenience: the problem of securing universal sanitation access in Alabama’s Black Belt.  Environmental Justice 6(6): 200-205. [abstract]

Holman, E.J. and Brown, J.  2014.  Safety of packaged water distribution limited by household recontamination in rural Cambodia.  Journal of Water and Health doi:10.2166/wh.2013.118. [abstract]


Wedgworth, J.J. and Brown, J.  2013.  Limited access to safe drinking water and sanitation in Alabama’s Black Belt: a cross-Sectional case study.  Water Quality, Exposure and Health 10.1007/s12403-013-0088-0. [full text]

Bhathena, Z.P., Shrivastava, S., Londhe, P., and Brown, J.  2013.  Microbiological performance of novel household water treatment devices in India.  Water Science and Technology: Water Supply 14(1): 91-98. [abstract]

Brown, J., Cairncross, S., and Ensink, J.  2013.  Sanitation, water and hygiene and child health: a critical review.  Archives of Disease in Childhood 98(8):629-634. doi: 10.1136/archdischild-2011-301528. [full text]

Orgill, J., Shaheed, A., Brown, J., Jeuland, M.  2013.  Water quality perceptions and willingness to pay for clean water in peri-urban Cambodian communities.  Journal of Water and Health 11(3): 489–506. [abstract]

Brown, J., Hien, V.T., McMahan, L., Jenkins, M., Thie, L., Liang, K., Printy, E., and Sobsey, M.  2013.  Relative benefits of on-plot water supply over other “improved” sources in rural Vietnam.  Tropical Medicine and International Health 18(1): 65-74. doi: 10.1111/tmi.12010. [full text]

Brown, J., Ratana, C., Wang, A., and Sobsey, M.  2013.  Microbiological effectiveness of mineral pot filters in Cambodia.  Environmental Science and Technology 46(21): 12055-12061. doi: 10.1021/es3027852. [abstract


Brown, J. and Clasen, T.  2012.  High adherence is necessary to realize health gains from water quality interventions.  PLoS ONE 7(5): e36735. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0036735. [full text]

Brown, J., Cavill, S., Cumming, O., and Jeandron, A.  2012.  Water, sanitation, and hygiene in emergencies: summary review and recommendations for further research.  Waterlines 31(1&2): 11-29. [abstract]

Brown, J. and Sobsey, M.  2012.  Boiling as household water treatment in Cambodia: a longitudinal study of boiling practice and microbiological effectiveness.  American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 87(3): 394–398. [full text]

Before 2012

Özdemir, S., Elliott, M., Brown, J., Pham, N.K., Vo Thi, H., and Sobsey, M.D.   2011.  Practices, preferences and attitudes for rainwater harvesting in Mekong Delta, Vietnam.  Journal of Water, Saniation, and Hygiene for Development 1(3): 171-177. [abstract]

Brown, J., Stauber, C., Murphy, J., Khan, A.  Mu, T., Elliott, M., and Sobsey, M.  2011.  Ambient temperature incubation for the field detection of E. coli in drinking water.  Journal of Applied Microbiology 110(4): 915-923. [full text]

Brown, J. And Sobsey, M.  2010.  Microbiological effectiveness of locally produced ceramic filters for drinking water treatment in Cambodia.  Journal of Water and Health 8(1): 1-10. [full text]

Brown, J. And Sobsey, M.  2009.  Metal oxide amended ceramic media for the capture of viruses in drinking water.  Environmental Technology 30(4): 379-391. [abstract]

Brown, J., Proum, S., and Sobsey, M.  2009.  Sustained use of a household-scale water filtration device  in rural Cambodia.  Journal of Water and Health 7(3): 404-411. [full text]

Sobsey, M.D., Stauber, C.E., Casanova, L.M., Brown, J., and Elliott, M.A.  2008.  Point of use household drinking water filtration: a practical, effective solution for providing access to safe drinking water in the developing world.  Environmental Science and Technology 42: 4261-4267. [abstract]

Brown, J., Sobsey, M., and Loomis, D.  2008.  Drinking water filters reduce diarrheal disease in Cambodia: a randomized, controlled trial of locally made ceramic filters.   American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 79(3): 394-400. [full text]

Brown, J., Proum, S. and Sobsey, M.  2008.  E. coli in household drinking water and diarrheal disease risk: evidence from Cambodia.  Water Science and Technology 58(4): 757-763. [abstract]

Clasen, T., Brown, J., Collin, S.  2006.  Preventing diarrhoea with household ceramic water filters: assessment of a pilot project in Bolivia.  International Journal of Environmental Health Research 16(3):231-239. [full text]

Clasen, T., Brown, J., Collin, S., Suntura, O., and Cairncross, S.  2004.  Reducing diarrhea through the use of household-based ceramic water filters: a randomized, controlled trial in rural Bolivia.  American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 70(6): 651-657. [full text]

Clasen, T., Brown, J., Suntura, O. and Collin, S.  2004.  Tratamiento casero de agua con filtros de cerámica por goteo.  Caudal Revista Sectoral de Agua y Saneamiento 4: 20-22.

Clasen, T., Brown, J., Suntura, O., and Collin, S.  2004.  Safe household water treatment and storage using ceramic drip filters: a randomized controlled trial in Bolivia.  Water Science and Technology 50(1):111-115. [abstract]

Johnson, P., Watson, M., Brown, J., Jefcoat, I.A.  2002.  Peanut hull pellets as a single use sorbent for the capture of Cu (II) from wastewater.  Waste Management 22(5): 471-480. [full text]

Brown, P., Brown, J., and Allen, S.  2001.  The application of kudzu as a medium for the adsorption of heavy metals from dilute aqueous wastestreams.  Bioresource Technology 78:195-201. [full text]

Brown, J.  2000.  Kudzu as a medium for the adsorption of heavy metals in dilute aqueous wastestreams, American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE): Practice Periodical of Hazardous, Toxic, and Radioactive Waste Management 4:82-87. [abstract]

Peer-reviewed books and book chapters

Berendes, D. and Brown, J. 2017. Inequality beyond the toilet: fecal sludge management and the community-level dimensions of sanitation. Chapter in: O. Cumming & T. Slaymaker (ed.) Achieving Equality in Water and Sanitation Service Delivery. London: Routledge.

Brown, J. and Grammer, P. 2015. ‘Indicators of microbial quality’, in Bartram, J., with Baum, R., Coclanis, P.A., Gute, D. M., Kay, D., McFayden, S., Pond, K., Robertson,W. and Rouse, M.J. (eds) Routledge Handbook of Water and Health. London and New York: Routledge.

Brown, J., Cavill, S., Cumming, O., and Jeandron, A. 2015. Water, sanitation, and hygiene in emergencies.  Chapter in: Richard Carter (ed.) Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in Humanitarian Contexts: Reflections on current practice.  London: Practical Action Publishing. ISBN 9781853398841. 

Sobsey, M., and Brown, J.  2011.  Evaluating household water treatment options: health- based targets and performance specifications.  Geneva: World Health Organization.  ISBN: 978 92 4 154822 9. [full text]

Peer-reviewed monographs 

Cairncross, S., Baker, S., Brown, J., Cavill, S., Cumming, O., Ensink, J., Rheingans, R., and Schmidt, W.P.  2013.  Evidence Paper: Water, Sanitation and Hygiene.  UK Department for International Development (DfID) commissioned review. [full text]

Brown, J., Jeandron, A., Cavill, S., and Cumming, O.  2012.  Evidence Review and Research Priorities: Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene for Emergency Response.  UK Department for International Development (DfID) commissioned review/monograph.  SHARE Consortium. [full text]

Brown, J., Outlaw, T., Clasen, T., Wu, J., and Sobsey, M.  2009.  Safe Water for All:  Harnessing the Private Sector to Reach the Underserved.  Washington, D.C.: World Bank/International Finance Corporation. [full text]

Brown, J., Sobsey, M., and Proum, S.  2007.   Use of Ceramic Water Filters in Cambodia.  Washington, DC: WSP-World Bank Field Note. [full text]