Environmental Sciences and Engineering News Briefs


Zoe Frolking Selected as 2014 CDC Millenial Health Leader
MSPH graduate student Zoe Frolking was chosen as a Center Disease Control (CDC) Millennial Health Leader and invited to attend the 2014 CDC Millennial Health Leaders’ Summit, an interdisciplinary symposium on health disparities. As a National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) trainee at Gillings, Zoe shared with the other participants the often-overlooked environmental components and determinants of disparities in public health.


In Memory of Professor Emeritus Morris Shiffman
Professor Emeritus Morris Shiffman, 91, (pictured) died October 6, 2014, after a prolonged illness. Prior to joining the ESE faculty in 1964, Dr. Shiffman served in the US Public Health Service and directed the Milk and Sanitation Program for the City of Philadelphia Health Department. He held an MBA degree from the Wharton School of Business, an MPH from Michigan, a DVM degree from the University of Paris… [more]


Graduate Student Alma Beciragic Receives Eckenfelder Fellowship
Doctoral student Alma Beciragic, who was born in Zagreb, Croatia, and came to the United States as a refugee in 1992, is this year’s winner of the Dr. W. Wesley Eckenfelder, Jr. Scholarship from Brown and Caldwell. Each year, Brown and Caldwell awards this scholarship to a student pursuing education and a career within the environmental industry. Alma’s research will focus on the fate and transport of disinfection byproducts in drinking water.


Graduate Student Ariel Atkinson Receives Two Year Fellowship
Doctoral candidate Ariel Atkinson, under the advisement of Dr. Orlando Coronell, has received a two-year fellowship from the National Water Research Institute (NWRI) and the American Membrane Technology Association (AMTA). She was one of two national recipients of this honor, which supports graduate research pertaining to improving water quality and solving water supply and quality issues through widespread application of membrane technology. [more]


Characklis to Lead New NSF-USDA Grant
Professor Gregory Characklis will lead a team that has been awarded a $2.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The interdisciplinary project, “Designing Robust and Adaptive Water Management Strategies for Regions Transitioning from Abundance to Scarcity,” will develop innovative strategies for sustainably meeting future water demands in the Southeastern U.S. [more]


Disparities in Water Access in NC
Associate Professor Jacqueline MacDonald Gibson and her team have mapped safe water access in North Carolina by county, showing disparities in access across the state. The project objectives include examining racial disparities in access to public water and sewer resources, said Hannah Leker, a master’s student on the team. The team is planning to have the project results published by the end of the year. [more]


Doctor SingerProfessor Emeritus Phil Singer Wins Career Award
Singer, who retired from UNC in 2010, is the recipient of the American Water Works Association’s premier award, the 2014 Abel Wolman Award of Excellence, recognizing those whose careers in the water profession exemplify vision, creativity, and excellent professional performance. During his 40 year career, Singer directly assisted many utilities in North Carolina and nationally on drinking water quality issues.


JHickey In Memory of Professor Hickey
Dr. Hickey passed away on May 24, 2014, at age 87. He graduated from Harvard in 1949 with an MS degree in Engineering and served on active duty in the Navy during and after World War II. Hickey returned to school at the University of North Carolina Graduate School of Public Health, receiving his PhD degree in 1977. He taught environmental sciences and engineering at the University until 1987.


Haiti-smallDeaths From Diarrheal Disease Can Be Prevented
The World Health Organization, along with collaborators from the Water Institute at UNC and 13 other research institutions, have estimated that 842,000 deaths from diarrheal disease in low- and middle- income countries can be attributed to poor water, sanitation and hygiene. The new analysis is reported in a series of publications in the journal Tropical Medicine & International Health.


waterfromtapStudy Finds Water from Improved Sources Not Always Safe
Digging a well or accessing water through pipes does not necessarily mean a household in the developing world will have safer drinking water than if they used more traditional, unprotected water sources. In fact, fecal contamination still occurs in about 25 percent of water from improved sources. These are the findings of a new analysis conducted by researchers at The Water Institute and published May 6 in PLOS Medicine. [more]


BoyerAlumnus Receives Prestigious Junior Faculty Award
Treavor Boyer, who received his PhD in 2008 under the advisement of Dr. Phil Singer, has been honored with the University of Florida’s 2014 Excellence Award for Assistant Professors. According to the award letter, “The committee focused on the quality and innovativeness of the research, and sought to balance the diverse intellectual streams the candidates represented…Dr. Boyer emerged as being uniquely worthy of this award.”


KolskyESE Announces 2014 Departmental Awards
ESE Chair Dr. Mike Aitken announced the departmental awards on April 15, 2014. Honorees included Professor of Practice Dr. Pete Kolsky, recipient of the Newton Underwood Memorial Award; Master of Science in Environmental Engineering student James McCann, recipient of the George C. Bunker Award; and Master of Science in Public Health student Kyle Onda, recipient of the ESE Achievement Award. [more]


KolskyKolsky on Expert Panel Addressing Cholera in Haiti
Dr. Pete Kolsky, ESE faculty and Associate Director of the Water Institute, served as a rapporteur and member of an expert panel for the World Bank hosted “Technical Meeting on the Elimination of Cholera from Haïti” on April 11th, 2014. The panel was convened to review a proposed strategy involving multiple interventions: strengthened case detection and treatment; water, sanitation, and hygiene; and targeted vaccination.


Marjorie AelionAelion Receives Distinguished Alumni Award
Alumna Marjorie Aelion, PhD (ESE 1988) was honored with the Harriet Hylton Barr Distinguished Alumni Award from the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health at the Foard Lecture on April 10th. Aelion is currently Dean of the School of Public Health and Health Sciences at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Her recent research has focused on the study of heavy metals in residential soils, primarily arsenic, lead and mercury. [more]


WASHGibson Says Building Sidewalks Can Lead to Healthier Communities
Health benefits derived from pedestrian and bicycle improvements to the Blue Ridge Road corridor in Raleigh, N.C., would total more than $300 million, according to Associate Professor Jacqueline MacDonald Gibson. That amount is “far more than would be needed to build a complete network of sidewalks” in the area. You can read more about the Blue Ridge Road Corridor Health Impact Assessment on the City of Raleigh website.


WASHBartram Gives Keynote at “WASH for Everyone, Everywhere”
Director of the Water Institute at UNC, Jamie Bartram, was a featured speaker at the 2014 “WASH for Everyone, Everywhere Conference,” Australia’s leading water, sanitation and hygiene conference, held in association with World Water Day. Dr. Bartram has over 25 years experience in international policy, research and advisory work in public health and disease prevention, especially in relation to water supply and sanitation.


GibsonGibson To Speak at International Water Conference
Associate Professor Jackie MacDonald Gibson has been invited to be a plenary speaker at the “International Water Association Leading Edge Technology Conference” in Abu Dhabi, May 26-29, 2014. Recently she served as principal investigator for a three-year project funded by the Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi to quantify the environmental burden of disease in the United Arab Emirates.


ChappellChappell Wins Honor for Poster on Toxicology
Grace Chappell, advised by Dr. Ivan Rusyn, won first place for her poster at the annual NC Society of Toxicology meeting.  The theme this year was: “Systems Toxicology: Integration from the gene to the population.” Chapell’s poster was entitled “Epigenotoxicity determines tissue-specific effects of inhalational exposure to the genotoxic chemical 1,3-butadiene in male C57BL/6J mice.”


NexusWater, Food, Climate and Energy Conference Addresses the Nexus
Isolated solutions aimed at just one sector miss out on efficiently resolving the resource challenges our world faces. This was the intuitive, yet challenging, premise that was explored at the “Nexus 2014 Conference,” March 5-8, hosted by the Water Institute at UNC. The Conference attracted participants from over 33 countries, who represented both science and policy perspectives. [more]


FryFry Receives Teaching Innovation Award
ESE Associate Professor Rebecca Fry was honored on Monday, February 24, 2014 by the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health for innovation in teaching. Students vote for faculty members who “improve the learning environment by integrating new technologies, engaging students in interactive activities, and introducing and incorporating progressive curriculum ideas into the classroom.”