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A cross-divisional department spanning

Research Areas

Environmental Engineering


Environmental Engineering research area is concerned with issues that involve water quality, wastewater and treatment, transport and fate of contaminants in natural and engineered environments, hazardous and solid waste management, hydrology, and environmental fluid dynamics.

Research Highlight 

Detecting, Tracing, and Characterizing Antimicrobial Resistance in Wastewater and Surface Waters

Bacterial resistance to antimicrobials and antibiotics is one of the most pressing public-health concerns around the world. Water systems are one of the major contributors to the spread of resistance, as improperly treated drinking water and wastewater can concentrate antibiotic and antimicrobial compounds while also carrying pathogens to and from human hosts. In the United States, the widespread use of antimicrobial products including soaps, toothpastes, and surfaces as well as the extensive application of antibiotic drugs results in large quantities of these compounds in wastewater treatment systems and aquatic systems. The diverse bacterial communities in wastewater that interact with these compounds in wastewater treatment plants often exhibit resistance to multiple clinically-important antibiotics. Detecting these organisms can be challenging, but it is imperative to understand the ability of resistance to change and disseminate in wastewater and in surface waters. In this ongoing research project, samples collected from local wastewater treatment plants and the Chesapeake Bay are being probed for resistance genes and to identify mechanisms of cross-resistance to both antimicrobial and antibiotic compounds. Using trichlosan as a model antimicrobial compound, we are determining if antimicrobial resistance gives rise to antibiotic resistance and vice versa in surface waters.

This project was a collaborative effort at Johns Hopkins University: Edward Bouwer, PhD, and Meghan Davis, PhD, in the Department of Environmental Health and Engineering, Charles Young, PhD, from the Applied Physics Laboratory; and Hannah Gray, PhD student.

Associated Faculty

Jacqueline Agnew, PhD

The goal of my research is to better understand the relationship between workplace exposures, worker characteristics, and musculoskeletal disorders so that these debilitating and expensive conditions can be prevented.


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Daniel Barnett, MD

Dr. Barnett's research interests include best practice models to enhance all-hazards public health emergency readiness and response. 


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Joseph Bressler, PhD*

Joe's laboratory has been studying transporters and their interaction with environmental toxins. 


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Jessie Buckley, PhD*

As an environmental and pediatric/perinatal epidemiologist, Jessie's goal is to conduct innovative and high impact research to inform environmental policies targeted at improving children’s health. 


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Meghan Davis, DVM, PhD*

As a molecular epidemiologist and an environmental microbiologist, Meghan studies the interface of bacteria and hosts to reduce microbe-mediated disease in humans and animals. 

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Peter DeCarlo, PhD*

Peter DeCarlo, PhD, studies the chemical composition of gas particles in the air to improve our understanding of climate, air quality, and health impacts of pollutants.

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Chris Heaney, PhD*

Dr. Heaney's research focuses on environmentally-mediated impacts on health and well-being, specifically community land use, waste disposal, and food production practices, and integrates the academic disciplines of environmental microbiology, molecular biology, immunology, epidemiology, and community-based participatory research (CBPR).

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Kirsten Koehler, PhD*

Koehler's research goals involve the use of direct-reading instrumentation to improve spatiotemporal exposure assessment. Direct-reading (i.e. “real-time”) monitors can rapidly assess exposures to various hazards.


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Jordan Kuiper, PhD

Jordan is part of the Buckley Research Group as a postdoctoral fellow, where he is involved in several projects related to early life chemical exposures and childhood health. 


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Keeve Nachman, PhD*

Keeve's research aims to generate the scientific evidence needed to support decisions that mitigate human exposures to chemical and microbial hazards associated with food production. 


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Gurumurthy Ramachandran, PhD*

Ramachandran has conducted research in various areas relating to human exposure assessment in occupational and non-occupational settings. His research has included the development of robust occupational exposure assessment strategies for a variety of airborne contaminants. He has pioneered the use of novel Bayesian statistical methods that synthesize exposure models, monitoring data, and probabilistic expert judgment.

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Lesliam Quirós-Alcalá, PhD*

Lesliam's research focuses on characterizing environmental exposures to endocrine disrupting agents and examining their potential health effects on highly vulnerable, low-income and minority populations underrepresented and understudied in public health research, including occupational populations, pregnant women and women of reproductive age, and children. 


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Kellogg Schwab, PhD*

Schwab’s research focuses on environmental microbiology and engineering with an emphasis on the fate and transport of pathogenic microorganisms in water, food and the environment. This work includes extensive laboratory-based research designed to develop and evaluate molecular detection methods with subsequent application of these methods in field-based investigations. 

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Fenna Sillé, PhD*

The focus of Fenna's research group is to understand the effects of environmental exposures on the development and function of our immune system.

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Genee Smith, PhD*

As an epidemiologist, Genee's research focuses on understanding the disproportionate burden of a changing climate on vulnerable populations and the impacts of neighborhood-level environmental exposures, including degraded infrastructure, unfair development, and chemical pollutants, on health disparities.


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*Denotes faculty who are accepting PhD students.