Dr. Kara Nelson is the Blum Chancellor's Chair in Development Engineering and a Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. Prof. Nelson teaches courses and conducts research on critical issues at the intersection of public health and the environment. Her research program investigates practices for wastewater based epidemiology, water reuse, disinfection, nutrient recovery, and international WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene), which draw on her expertise in a wide range of treatment processes including filtration, membrane processes, ion exchange, and disinfection with UV, sunlight, and ammonia. Prof. Nelson teaches courses on innovation in the water sector, drinking water and wastewater treatment processes, pathogen detection and inactivation, and natural treatment systems. She led the Engineering Research Thrust at ReNUWIt (www.renuwit.org) and a large regional program to monitor SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater (COVID Wastewater Based Epidemiology for the Bay Area; www.covid-web.org). Prof. Nelson is passionate about creating a climate in which everyone belongs and can reach their full potential, and previously served as Associate Dean for Equity and Inclusion in the College of Engineering.
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The COVID-19 virus can be picked up in wastewater before it's found in a clinical setting and researchers in a new study say this could be really useful for tracking new mutations of the virus, like the B.1.17 strain that is now widespread in the U.K. and has already been introduced in the U.S. "SARS CoV-2 virus is excreted by individuals that are infected by COVID-19 and the fecal waste ends up in the wastewater systems. By sampling wastewater, we can get information on infections for a whole population. Some wastewater systems serve several thousand people. Some serve hundreds of thousands of people," explained the study's lead author Kara Nelson, from the College of Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. For more on this, see our press release at Berkeley News.