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Emily K. Kumpel

Assistant Professor

Research areas include Microbiome, Microbes, and Infectious Diseases, as well as Infection and Immunity.

Current Research

Dr. Kumpel studies the fate and transport of waterborne pathogens in the environment and built infrastructure systems and the subsequent exposure and risks to human health. Her main focus has been on drinking water, including both laboratory, modeling, and field work to understand fundamental
mechanisms through which water supply interruptions influence water quality and microbial ecology in biofilms and how to best control risks to humans. Through this, Dr. Kumpel studies the water microbiome, enteric pathogens, and indicators of the potential for risks to health.

She has several current studies related to this area. This includes a study examining the influence of intermittent piped water supply, and use of multiple alternative sources, on exposure to waterborne pathogens and spread of antimicrobial resistance in Machakos, Kenya, under the influence of climate change-related water scarcity. Through this work, she hopes to uncover the fate and transport of enteric pathogens and antimicrobial resistance genes to better understand and control human exposure, and particularly study how exposure might change with increasing water scarcity and climate change influences. She is also modeling different types of intermittent supply and its impact on human health through Quantitative Microbial Risk Assessment (QMRA) to model and understand options for controlling these risks.

In the U.S., the introduction of centralized, treated water distribution systems more than a century ago achieved enormous health gains; however, these systems are now challenged by aging infrastructure, emerging contaminants, and a changing climate. While more than two billion people worldwide have gained access to an improved source of drinking water in the last two
decades, rapid urbanization, water scarcity, and inadequate wastewater treatment threaten this progress. Dr. Kumpel's research focuses on enabling the supply of safe, reliable, and sustainable drinking water and sanitation services to communities around the world. Her methods bridge environmental
and systems engineering at the interface with public health. She uses laboratory-scale experiments, field data collection, and modeling to address the scientific, engineering, and policy challenges in building and maintaining adaptable and resilient water and sanitation systems to meet human and environmental needs into the future. Her research questions are at the intersection of water infrastructure and human health, and include studying the water microbiome, enteric pathogens, and indicators of health risks.

Learn more at https://www.umass.edu/engineering/about/directory/emily-kumpel

Learn more at https://blogs.umass.edu/ekumpel/ 

Academic Background

  • Senior Research Scientist - Aquaya Institute, Nairobi, Kenya (2013-2016)
  • 2013 - Ph.D., Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of California, Berkeley
  • 2007 - M.S., Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of California, Berkeley
  • 2006 - B.S., Mechanical Engineering, Johns Hopkins University
Roberts, T., D. Reckhow, E. Kumpel; K. Chavarria. Disinfection Byproducts in Intermittent Piped Water Supplies. ACS ES&T Water. Accepted
Amery, L., J. Tobiason, E. Kumpel (2023). Water Lead Levels in Massachusetts Schools and Early Education and Childcare Facilities. AWWA Water Science. Accepted
Kumpel, E., N. Billava, N. Nayak, A. Ercumen (2021). Intermittent and continuous water supply and water access in India during the COVID-19 pandemic. Journal of Water and Health. 20 (1): 139–148. DOI:10.2166/wh.2021.1
Taylor, D.J., R. Peletz, R. Khush, E. Kumpel (2018).Efficacy of microbial sampling recommendations and practices in sub-Saharan Africa. Water Research, 134, pp 115-1
Kumpel, E., R. Peletz, M. Bonham, and R. Khush (2016). Assessing drinking water quality and water safety management in sub-Saharan Africa using regulated monitoring data. Environmental Science & Technology, 50(20):10869-10876. doi:10.1021/acs.est.6b02
Bivins, A., T. Sumner, E. Kumpel, G. Howard, O. Cumming, I. Ross, K. Nelson, J. Brown (2017). Estimating infection risks and the global burden of diarrheal disease attributable to intermittent water supply using QMRA. Environmental Science and Technology, 51(13), pp 7542
Ercumen, A., B. F. Arnold, E. Kumpel, Z. Burt, I. Ray, K. Nelson, and J. M. Colford Jr. (2015). Upgrading a piped water supply from intermittent to continuous delivery and association with waterborne illness: A matched cohort study in urban India. PLoS Medicine, 12(10)
Kumpel, E. and K. Nelson (2014). Mechanisms affecting water quality in an intermittent piped water supply. Environmental Science & Technology, 48(5), 2766–277
Kumpel, E. and K. Nelson (2013). Comparing microbial water quality in an intermittent and continuous piped water supply. Water Research, 47(14), 5176–51
Contact Info

Civil and Environmental Engineering
Marston Hall Room 16D
130 Natural Resources Road
Amherst, MA 01003-9292

Office: (413) 545-5390
Email: ekumpel@umass.edu