Tufts Gets Green

Office of Sustainability's Blog

Date: March 4, 2014 (page 1 of 3)

Lunch and Learn Recap: Elena Naumova, Environmental Indicators of Enteric Infections and Water Safety in Southern India

Elena Naumova, director of the Tufts Initiative for the Forecasting and Modeling of Infectious Diseases (InForMid) and Associate Dean for Research at the Tufts School of Engineering, spoke last week as part of the Tufts Environmental Studies and Tufts Institute of the Environment Lunch and Learn program. Her presentation on the Environmental Indicators of Enteric Infections and Water Safety in Southern India covered student research projects sponsored through a collaboration between the Tufts School of Engineering and Christian Medical College in Vellore, India.

 A mathematician by training, Naumova emphasized the importance of translating data into usable information that allows for action and policy.

Naumova began by laying out the importance of preventing waterborne diseases. Globally, there are 4 billion cases of diarrhea annually, 2.2 million of which lead to death. Of those 2.2 million, 80% of the deaths are among infants. Unsafe water is a large factor in these diseases.

Modern mathematical tools allow for an understanding of waterborne outbreaks in “temporal and spatial patterns”, Naumova said. “Practically all waterborne diseases exhibit strong seasonal patterns distinct for a specific pathogen in a given population [and] locality”, in a phenomenon known

as seasonality. An example familiar to New England residents, of course, would be the peaks of flu that occur in the winter. “Variability in seasonal characteristics can provide clues on important factors influencing disease occurrence, exposure, [and] spread.” These environmental factors, when they are within human control, could be a key to disease prevention. Climate change, however, will affect our ability to use these seasonal indicators as the patterns we have come to recognize begin to shift radically.

Naumova further presented statistics on the seasonality of cryptosporidiosis in the United States and the United Kingdom, salmonellosis in the United Status, and rotavirus in India.

She then laid out two studies conducted by some of her students, Dr. Stefan Collinet-Adler, Andrea Brown, Alexandra Kulinkina, and Negin Ashoori. Both studies examined the transmission of infectious diarrhea in 300 urban and rural households in the Vellore district of Tamil Nadu, India. The first study focused on the role of flies, which can carry pathogens such as norovirus, salmonella, and rotavirus. In the tests conducted, 72% of the flies tested positive for potential human pathogens. The second study used GIS to map ground water quality and distribution systems in Vellore.

Naumova here noted the importance of recognizing the difference between water quality and quantity: the focus of these studies was on quality, for lack of water leads to other severe problems but obviously cannot cause waterborne diseases.

Elena said she is always looking for students who are interested in going abroad and conducting research and will do whatever she can to make that possible!

Program Coordinator, Center for Sustainability, Furman University (SC)

The mission of the Furman University David E. Shi Center for Sustainability is to promote interdisciplinary research and teaching in support of sustainability on campus and in the greater community. The Program Coordinator oversees the Center’s student, faculty, and community programs and seeks out partnerships for research and development opportunities as part of the Center’s strategic vision. The position serves as the primary point of contact for Center student co-curricular programs.

Learn more.

Sustainability Specialist, Oakton Community College (Illinois)

Oakton Community College was established in 1969 and is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission and the North Central Association. The College is recognized by the Illinois Community College Board and is a member of the American Association of Community Colleges, as well as numerous professional organizations.

Located seventeen miles from downtown Chicago, Oakton serves northern Cook County with campuses in Des Plaines and Skokie, Illinois.

Learn more.

Program Manager, Experience Int’l (Everson, WA)

A challenging, rewarding, full-time salaried position is available with Experience International, a non-profit educational organization based in Everson, Washington. In addition to other programs, EI is designated by the US State Department as a J-1 Exchange Visitor-Trainee Program and brings qualified foreign nationals to the United States for up to 18 months of practical training & work-experience in the fields of agriculture, forestry, fisheries, and natural resource management and conservation. Please email cover letter, resume, salary requirements, and references to Director at: ei@expint.org. Learn more.

Programmes Officer, Int’l Water Association (Mexico)

DEADLINE: March 5, 2014

The International Water Association is recruiting a full-time programs officer to be part of its programs team supporting the development, implementation and dissemination of various projects. The programs officer will support the thematic program: Water, Climate and Energy, with a particular emphasis on a new project working towards achieving carbon neutral water and wastewater utilities, as well as the wider urban water cycle. Furthermore, the incumbent will also provide support to projects and activities related to the utility member segment of IWA. To Apply: To be considered for this position, please submit your resume, cover letter and two references to: recruitment@iwahq.org before March 5th, 2014. Learn more.

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