You might say that quite a few things have happened since I last posted here nearly two years ago… these are tulmutuous times and COVID-19 has impacted each of us. As a mother of two joyful and energetic young kids, I felt the challenges of the work-life collision that occurred when the pandemic flipped our old normal upside-down in March 2020 (my kids were 2 and 4 years old at the time). Our resilient little people have grown together as siblings and weathered zoom-land like the best of ’em. As an Assistant Professor with a team conducting experimental research in the lab, I experienced the impacts of the shutdown and the subsequent stages of safety overhalls on our group’s progress. My incredible research team has persisted through these setbacks and continue to be an amazing source of intellectual curiousity and inspiration.
The pandemic also opened up new avenues of collaboration and research for my team. In Summer 2020, we began a project to monitor SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater at UC Davis and subsequently with the City of Davis through the Healthy Davis Together initiative. Our work enables data-driven decision-making using wastewater infrastructure at city, neighborhood, and building scales. We use wastewater as a warning systeem and use geo-targeted community messaging systems to provide rapid and targeted information on COVID-19 trends from wastewater to the public. As a scientist and engineer focused on environmental health challenges (with an emphasis on viruses!), I am proud to be contributing to ongoing efforts to curb this virus and its impacts in our community.
Our wastewater monitoring project includes providing weekly updates to a public website to share results for wastewater monitoring of SARS-CoV-2 (https://healthydavistogether.org/wastewater-testing/), and I’ve spoken at various public and scientific forums like the UC Davis COVID Symposium (1/13/21).
We also developed a step-by-step guidance document for implementing wastewater monitoring in cities (available at: https://healthydavistogether.org/monitoring-wastewater-response/).
I’ve had a stint of interviews with local and national news sources, and our work in wastewater based epidemiology was highlighted in various media outlets. Some spotlights and quotes can be found in:
- Wastewater helps health officials spot COVID-19 warning signs (The Wall Street Journal, 07/25/21)
- Levels of COVID-19 in Davis wastewater continue to rise (The Daily Democrat, 07/14/21)
- ‘A Northern California college city says it excels at monitoring pandemic through poop (San Francisco Chronicle, 04/10/21)
- ‘Increased’ levels of COVID-19 found in Davis neighborhood wastewater (KCRA3, 04/09/21)
- UC Davis researchers develop way to expand COVID-19 detection through wastewater sampling (Fox40, 04/01/21)
- Healthy Davis Together expands wastewater monitoring (Davis Enterprise, 04/01/20)
- The advantages of wastewater epidemiology (KCRW’s Second Opinion on NPR, 12/13/20)
- Arizona city uses wastewater to quarantine those infected with COVID-19 (The Washington Examiner, 11/5/20)
- UC Davis rolls out proactive measures to prevent coronavirus spread on campus (ABC10, 11/02/20)
- How testing sewage could help slow the spread of COVID-19 (KCRA 3, 10/29/20)