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Alasdair Cohen

Alasdair is an Assistant Professor of Environmental Epidemiology in the Department of Population Health Sciences and the Public Health Program at Virginia Tech (VT); he also has an affiliate faculty appointment in the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering at VT, and serves as Research Director for the Berkeley/China/Virginia Tech Program for Water & Health. He earned his PhD in Environmental Science, Policy, & Management, and an MPH in Epidemiology, from the University of California, Berkeley, as well as an MSc in Water Science, Policy, & Management from the University of Oxford. In addition to applied research, he has also worked for United Nations agencies to develop water and rural poverty focused indicators/metrics, and lived in Italy for ~3 years and China for ~4 years.

Postdoctoral Researchers

Md Rasheduzzaman

Rasheduzzaman (Rashed) is a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Department of Population Health Sciences and the Public Health Program at Virginia Tech (VT). He earned his PhD in Environmental Engineering from Drexel University in 2021, and also earned an MSc in Environmental Engineering from Drexel University, as well as a BSc in Civil Engineering from KUET, Bangladesh. His current research is focused on water quality modeling (including water quality in buildings), risk assessment, and statistical modeling to assess the safety of potable water supplies and associated impacts on public health. His future research plans include the development of risk-based scientific guidance and the implementation of advanced analytics focused on safe water access. In his free time, Rashed enjoys fishing, cooking, traveling, and volunteering with organizations working on safe drinking water (e.g., AWWA, Volunteer for Bangladesh).


PhD Students

Amanda Darling

Amanda is a PhD student in the Environmental and Water Resources Engineering Program at Virginia Tech. Her research interests include drinking water quality and treatment methods with a focus on rural areas of Central Appalachia. She attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for her Bachelor’s degree in Civil & Environmental Engineering. In her free time, Amanda enjoys traveling and volunteering with organizations promoting community access to safe drinking water.  After graduate school, Amanda hopes to continue conducting research at the intersection of environmental engineering and public health, potentially working for an agency or NGO researching water quality and security.


MD Students

Gemma Porras Nielsen

Gemma is an MD student at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine in Roanoke, VA. She earned a BA in Geosciences and Pre-medical studies from Williams College and an MSc in Biomedical Research from Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona. Prior to starting medical school, Gemma worked at the Research Insitute for a Sustainable Environment in Cairo, Egypt where she focused on safe water access and food security in rural communities. Her current research centers on drinking water quality and adverse health outcomes in Appalachia. In her free time, Gemma enjoys hiking, camping and reading.

MPH Students (selected)

Hannah Patton

Hannah is a Ph.D. student in Biological Systems Engineering (BSE) and a simultaneous M.P.H. student at Virginia Tech. She is a certified Engineer in Training (EIT) and has a B.S. in Environmental Engineering from Saint Francis University and an M.S. in BSE from Virginia Tech. Hannah’s research is centered on drinking water quality and accessibility in Central Appalachia. In her free time Hannah likes to trail run, mountain bike, camp, ski, and snuggle her rescue dog Olive.

Research Assistants

Yabi Bereket

Yabi Bereket is a Senior at Virginia Tech who is currently working towards a Bachelor of Science degree in Public Health, with a double minor in International Public Policy and Data & Decisions. Following the completion of her undergraduate studies, she plans to further her education by pursuing a Master’s degree, with a focus on exploring opportunities that allow her to combine her areas of interest, including global health and data analysis. She enjoys utilizing these interests for the purpose of understanding and improving health and overall quality of life outcomes for different global communities.

Arpita Das

Arpita Das is pursuing a B.S. in Public Health. She has worked at the Carey Lab since her freshman year focusing on understanding freshwater ecosystems while working specifically with Beaverdam and Falling Creek Reservoirs. She is currently working at the Cohen Lab helping with a project focused on water bottle quality. Arpita is interested in pursuing an MPH in Epidemiology after graduating from Virginia Tech.

Madeline Deck

Madeline is a senior studying Civil & Environmental Engineering at Virginia Tech. After graduating, she plans to continue her education at Virginia Tech as a MS student in Environmental Engineering. Her research interests include drinking water treatment methods and their effects on public health. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, cooking, and puzzles.

Jiexuan (Jess) Huang

Jess is currently a Junior studying Statistics and Economics at the University of California, Berkeley. She enjoys using her data analytics skills in various research groups, including but not limited to bottled water contamination and unemployment rate fluctuation prediction. She is also a performer doing both ballet and modern dance. [last updated 2021]

Breanna Lytton

Breanna is a senior studying Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise; Public Health; and Chemistry at Virginia Tech. She will attend medical school after graduation to become a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.). She enjoys Appalachian water quality research, as it provides an opportunity to interact with rural communities and serve the individuals within. In her free time, Breanna enjoys weightlifting, archery, kayaking, and hiking.

Joshua McCray

Josh is a third-year undergraduate student studying biochemistry and history at the University of Virginia (UVA) at Wise. His research interests range from organometallic ruthenium cage complexes to drinking water contamination and public health in the Appalachian region. In his free time, Josh enjoys hiking, kayaking, and volunteering with medical clinics.


MSc Students

Amanda Darling

Amanda completed her Masters of Science in Environmental Engineering at Virginia Tech in 2020. Her research interests include drinking water quality and treatment methods. She attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for her Bachelor’s degree in Civil & Environmental Engineering. In her free time, Amanda enjoys traveling and volunteering with organizations promoting community access to safe drinking water. [last updated 2020]

Research Assistants

Jingyi Cui

Jingyi graduated from  the University of California, Berkeley in 2020 with double majors in Applied Mathematics and Economics. Jingyi currently works at the San Francisco office of Cornerstone Research. In her spare time, she also serves as a technical consultant for Delta Analytics to help their partner non-profits drive impact through statistical and machine learning analysis.  [last updated 2020]

Rachel Guevara

Rachel graduated in the spring of 2022 from University of Virginia’s College at Wise earning her BS in Environmental Science with a focus on Geology. She has a passion for water quality monitoring, management, and equity especially in karst areas, and has participated in several research opportunities in Appalachia, mainly in Southwest Virginia. Apart from assisting in, and conducting her own, research, she enjoys volunteering for several outdoor projects, including the Clinch Water Watch Citizen Science Project and environmental cleanups on Natural Area Preserves along the Virginia Cave and Karst Trail. When she’s not in the field, in class, or in the lab, she can be found playing Dungeons and Dragons or reading a book. [last updated 2022]

Yalu Guo

Yalu studied Civil Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley as an undergraduate. She is currently a masters student at UC Berkeley, studying in Civil Engineering in the ECIC program (energy, civil infrastructure and climate). Her research interests are renewable energies and electric vehicles. In her free time, she enjoys stargazing, kayaking and cooking. [last updated 2020]

Ziyi (Jackie) He

Jackie graduated from  the University of California, Berkeley with a B.S. in Statistics. She is interested in multiple areas of data analytics, statistics and computational finance. Jackie is currently working for Abbott Laboratories in their Finance Professional Development Program and plans to pursue graduate studies in the future. [last updated 2020]

Ethan Hessl

Ethan studied Molecular Environmental Biology at  the University of California, Berkeley and focused his major on key relationships between the environment and human health. He grew up in Davis, CA, and wants to make a difference in environmental justice issues related to drinking water in the California Central Valley. [last updated 2020]

Pragya Khanal

Pragya is a senior double majoring in Mathematics and Economics at Hollins University in VA. She enjoys working with data to analyze real-world problems. Her research interest lies in the interdisciplinary fields of Public Policy, Gender, and Development Economics. During her spare time she enjoys reading and listening to music. [last updated 2021]

Sungjoo Park

Sungjoo double-majored in Public Health and Human Development at Virginia Tech. He graduated in the Spring 2022 semester and plans to start an MPH in the Fall 2022 semester. He is interested in Global Health and Public Health Program planning, but has become increasingly involved with research on drinking water quality and public health and well-being in rural Appalachia. Sungjoo enjoys photography, longboarding, playing the guitar, and sports. [last updated 2022]

Qingyang Song

Qingyang graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with Bachelor of Arts degrees in Chemistry and History. She is now pursuing a Juris Doctor degree at Harvard Law School. She is passionate about 20th-century Japanese history and is currently learning Japanese. [last updated 2020]

Yixin (Ethan) Sun

Ethan is a senior majoring in civil engineering and minoring in electrical engineering and computer sciences at  the University of California, Berkeley. He is currently applying to graduate programs in structural engineering and believes data science has huge potential to support and advance the field of civil engineering in the future. In his free time, he enjoys photography, movies, travelling, and cats. [last updated 2020]

Qiwen Xia

Qiwen received degrees in both Chemistry and Environmental Economics & Policy at the University of California, Berkeley. After exploring industries spanning from finance to clean energy through consulting and research, she now works as a Data Scientist at Facebook. In her spare time, Qiwen likes to explore the outdoor world with photography and occasional adventures such as paddle boarding, kayaking, and snorkeling. [last updated 2021]

Xinjia (Emily) Yan

Emily holds a B.A. degree in applied mathematics and a B.S. degree in environmental economics from the University of California, Berkeley. After she received her Master of Public Administration from Columbia University, Emily has worked as marketing program manager at Synopsys Inc. She supports corporate marketing initiatives with her expertise in data analytics, research and public relations. Outside of work, Emily loves digital arts, blogging, hiking and playing the accordion. [last updated 2020]