PhD student Katherine Dowdell has been selected by the Institute of International Education (IIE) to receive the 2019 IIE-GIRE Graduate International Research Experience (IIE-GIRE) Program scholarship.
The scholarship recognizes graduate students who are interested in international research and will enable Dowdell to pursue her engineering research abroad in Switzerland at the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag). Dowdell will be working with Drs. Frederik Hammes and Urs von Gunten of Eawag. Her project will focus on the influence of drinking water ozonation and biological filtration on opportunistic bacterial pathogens.
“Infections caused by bacterial opportunistic pathogens are a growing global concern,” said Dowdell. “Opportunistic pathogens, such as Legionella pneumophila and nontuberculous mycobacteria, generally do not infect healthy individuals, but pose a serious risk for those with compromised immune systems. As evidence builds that drinking water may be a significant exposure route, research into how water treatment processes influence concentrations of opportunistic pathogens in treated drinking water is needed. My work is focused on how the use of disinfectants in drinking water treatment influences opportunistic pathogen populations in tap water.”
Dowdell completed her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Colorado where she worked on biofiltration in drinking water systems. She then went on to work for five years in environmental engineering consulting before starting at the University of Michigan as a PhD student in September 2017. Her PhD research is focused on the influence of drinking water treatment processes on nontuberculous mycobacteria and other opportunistic pathogens.
Dowdell is co-advised by Professor Lutgarde Raskin from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Professor John LiPuma from the Department of Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases.