Gillings School Directory
Jacqueline MacDonald Gibson, PhD

Jacqueline MacDonald Gibson, PhD

Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering
  • 0032 Michael Hooker Research Center
  • CB# 7431
  • Chapel Hill, NC 27599
  • USA
Dr. Jacqueline MacDonald Gibson has a multi-disciplinary background in mathematics, engineering, and science that she has applied to study risk assessment, policy, and communication for more than 25 years.  Much of her research centers on predicting population health impacts of alternative environmental policy decisions.  For example, her recent research to quantify the health impacts of disparities in access to municipal water service in peri-urban areas of North Carolina arose from a request from the North Carolina Director of Public Health for estimates of the magnitude of risks facing such communities.  Prior policy-relevant research includes a study to quantify the burden of disease from pollutants in air (indoor and outdoor), water, soil, and food in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in order to inform policy decisions by the Environment Agency—Abu Dhabi.   Several policy recommendations from her UAE research (including expanding air and water quality monitoring networks and establishing an occupational health and safety administration) were implemented.  Dr. MacDonald Gibson also led multiple studies to inform environmental policies in the US Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Defense, and other federal agencies while on the staff of the RAND Corporation and, before that, the US National Research Council. She has received multiple awards for her science policy work, including two best paper awards from Risk Analysis, the National Research Council Award for Distinguished Service (conferred to two staff members per year), and the RAND Merit Bonus Award (for one of the year’s best science policy projects). Her PhD studies were supported by a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.

Representative Courses

Methods of Environmental Decision Analysis, ENVR 570

Environmental Risk Assessment, ENVR 470

Water-Health Research, ENVR 683/684

Research Activities

Environment (general, soil and water)

Key Publications

In press. Strategies to improve private well water quality: a North Carolina perspective. MacDonald Gibson, J., and K. J. Pieper (in press) Environmental Health Perspectives.

Exposure to contaminated drinking water and health disparities in North Carolina. Stillo, F., and J. MacDonald Gibson* (2017). American Journal of Public Health, 107(1), 180-185.

Reducing emergency department visits for acute gastrointestinal illnesses in North Carolina (USA) by extending community water service. DeFelice, N., J. Johnston, and J. MacDonald Gibson (2016). Environmental Health Perspectives, 54(10), 1583-1591.

The effects of urban form on ambient air pollution and public health risk: A case study in Raleigh, North Carolina. Mansfield, T., D. Rodriguez, and J. MacDonald Gibson (2015). Risk Analysis, 35(5), 901-918.

Environmental Burden of Disease Assessment: A Case Study in the United Arab Emirates. MacDonald Gibson, J., A. Brammer, C. Davidson, T. Folley, F. Launay, and J. Thomsen, eds. (Springer, 489 pages) (2013).


PhD, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University, 2007

PhD, Engineering and Public Policy, Carnegie Mellon University, 2007

MS, Environmental Science in Civil Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1990

BA, Mathematics, Bryn Mawr College, 1986

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