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College of Public Health

Quinn, Scheuerman and OConnell to Study Field Indicator for Water Safety in the US and Rwanda

Dr. Megan Quinn (PI) and Dr. Phil Scheuerman (co-I) have received funding to work with doctoral student Beth OConnell to establish and evaluate a field-use indicator for biosand water filters (BSF).  BSF are widely-used around the world to provide clean water in areas that lack local or municipal water treatment facilities.  Using a combination of biologic and physical processes, BSF allow users to filter water through a column of sand that is covered by a naturally occurring biologically active layer known as a biofilm.  Studies have suggested that BSF may be effective in removing bacteria, some viruses and many types of protozoa, and can reduce overall rates of diarrhea in families.

Ms. OConnell, a doctoral student in the Department of Community and Behavioral Health, has used BSF during her previous field work in Rwanda.  Working with Dr. Quinn, in the Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology and Dr. Scheuerman, in the Department of Environmental Health, Ms. OConnell will work at both the ETSU Valleybrook Campus and in the Environmental Health Sciences Lab, to  determine the validity and reliability of various field use indicators as compared to standard lab indicators.  The purpose of a field use indicators is to help households know, quickly, cheaply and accurately, if a BSF is, or is not, functioning effectively.  Once this is determined, they will pilot test the indicators in a partner community in rural Rwanda. 

Ms. OConnell received her BS in Public Health and her MPH in Community and Behavioral Health from ETSU.  She entered the doctoral program in 2013.  She has conducted field work in both Rwanda and Guatemala.  She was the recipient of a Frist Global Health Leaders Scholarship in 2010 and 2013, and was named as the outstanding Community and Behavioral Health MPH student in 2013.

Dr. Scheuerman is professor and former Chair, Department of Environmental Health.  His primary research focus is on water quality, especially related to surface water.  He received his PhD and MS in Environmental Engineering Sciences from the University of Florida.  Dr. Quinn is an assistant professor in the Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology.  She completed her MSc in Public Health Research at the University of Edinburgh College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine and a DrPH in Epidemiology from ETSU.  Her primary research focuses on applied epidemiologic studies of women and childrens health, with a focus on global health and cancer epidemiology.  

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