The Safe WaTER Group at San Diego State University seeks to better understand the health-related microbiological processes in engineered natural systems and water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) systems, especially those that incorporate water reuse and resource recovery. We do this through a combination of experimental laboratory work and the development of models for microbial processes and microbial risk. Our research supports the development of sustainable water and sanitation solutions that meet local and regional needs in Southern California and address national and international priorities such as the National Academy of Engineering Grand Challenges for Engineering, the Environmental Engineering Grand Challenges, and the goals established in the United Nations’ 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.

Our vision. Safe WaTER stands for Safe Waste to Treated Effluent for Reuse. The Safe WaTER vision is that useful resources (e.g. water, nutrients, and energy) contained within wastewater and fecal sludge can be safely reclaimed.

Our areas of research. We engage in a variety of research projects as long as the objectives align with our Safe WaTER vision, but our primary areas of interest are:

  • The fate and transport of pathogens in wastewater systems and the environment
  • Quantitative microbial risk assessment (QMRA) and stochastic modeling
  • Water, sanitation, and hygiene (WaSH) for development
  • Resource recovery from wastewater and biosolids
  • Statistical methods for engineers and microbiologists

The Safe WaTER Microbiology Laboratory. We are located on the fourth floor of the Engineering building at San Diego State University, in Room E-423. This 874 sf facility, which was renovated in July 2017, has enough work areas to simultaneously accommodate as many as 10 – 12 students.

  • Major equipment purchased to date:
    • NuAire Biosafety Cabinet
    • NuAire Glacier Ultra Low Temperature (-86°C) freezer
    • ThermoScientific Herotherm Microbiological Incubator
    • BioRad QX200 Droplet Digital PCR System
    • Hirayama HiClave HVA-110 autoclave
    • Ice-O-Matic GEMU090 Pellet Ice Machine
    • Eppendorf 5424 Microscentrifuge
    • Eppendorf 5810 Centrifuge
    • Edvotek Water Bath
    • FisherBrand Incubating Mini-Shaker
    • Eppendorf ResearchPlus Pipettes
    • ThermoScientific Orion Star A211 pH Meter
    • Dell OptiPlex 3050 MT Desktop Computer for digital lab notes, word processing
    • Dell Inspiron 3668 Desktop Computer with dual-screen for modeling
      (with 7th Gen Intel Core i7-7700 processor (8MB, 4.20 GHz), 16GB DDR4 2400MHz, and 128GB SSD + 1TB GB 7.2k HDD)
  • Next year, there are plans to purchase additional equipment for endpoint PCR (gel electrophoresis) and fluorescence microscopy.

Our commitment to transdisciplinary work. We acknowledge that the solutions required to meet today’s development challenges cannot be solved from within a single discipline. They must be collaborative efforts that transcend disciplinary boundaries. We pursue collaborations from colleagues in the fields of biology, public health, anthropology, mathematics and statistics, environmental science, and other disciplines.