Mark D. Sobsey

Mark D. Sobsey, PhD

Professor (retired, part-time)
Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering
148 Rosenau Hall
CB #7431
Chapel Hill, NC 27599


Recently retired from his full-time position as Kenan Distinguished Professor, Dr. Mark Sobsey studies human exposure to and health effects from pathogens (disease-causing) microbes in water, food and other environmental media to which people can become exposed in the developed and developing word.

An important focus of this research is combining microbial detection of pathogens (and microbial indicators for them) in these media with human health effects studies (such as diarrheal disease prevalence and incidence) in populations exposed to these media in order to quantify disease risks and burdens, devise and evaluate interventions to reduce these risks, such as water treatment processes that reduce pathogens, and use this information to conduct risk assessments and inform policy decisions for risk management. Hence this research shifts the axis of the university to work that informs integrated environmental decision-making and influences state, national and global policy on water, sanitation and health.

Key Publications

Applicability of Bio-wipes for the collection of human faecal specimens for detection and characterisation of enteric viruses. T.G. Barnard, J. Mans, N.A. Page, N. Potgieter, M.D. Sobsey, M.B. Taylor, W.B. Zyl (2014). Tropical Medicine and International Health, 19(3), 293-300.

Assessing the microbial quality of improved drinking water sources: Results from the Dominican Republic. Rachel Baum, Georgia Kayser, Mark Sobsey, Christine Stauber (2014). American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 90(1), 121-123.

Field evaluation of an improved cell line for the detection of human adenoviruses in environmental samples. Misoon Kim, GwangPyo Ko, Patsy Polston, Roberto Rodríguez, KyungJin Seo, Mark Sobsey (2014). Journal of Virological Methods, 205.

Human viruses and viral indicators in marine water at two recreational beaches in Southern California, USA. Christopher Gibbons, John Griffith, David Love, Roberto Rodriguez, Mark Sobsey, Jill Stewart, Qilu Yu (2014). Journal of Water and Health, 12(1), 136-150.

Integrating quantitative PCR and Bayesian statistics in quantifying human adenoviruses in small volumes of source water. Andrew Gronewold, Roberto Rodriguez, Mark Sobsey, Jill Stewart, Jianyong Wu (2014). Science of the Total Environment, 470.


  • PhD, Environmental Health Sciences, University of California-Berkeley, 1971
  • MS, Hygiene, University of Pittsburgh, 1967
  • BS, Biology, University of Pittsburgh, 1965