Kennedy Water Lab

Applying principles of microbiology, data science, and statistics to protect public health and the environment

We aim to characterize microbial community dynamics, occurrence, and persistence in the engineered water cycle and apply these data to protect public health and wellbeing as well as the environment.

Lauren C. Kennedy


Effects of disturbances on microbial community dynamics in distribution systems.

Shifts in microbial community composition can occur because of local or site-to-site variations or system-scale changes that affect the whole distribution system. Intentional disturbances from drinking water treatment facility operations improve water quality in the long-term, but can have unintended consequences. The goal of this project is to investigate the effect of disturbances on microbial communities in distribution systems and inform management practices.

Wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) for potable reuse

Advanced-treated wastewater can be used as a source of drinking water through direct potable reuse. WBE can help ensure ingestion of recycled water does not result in increased enteric diseases in the contributing community. The goal of this project is to quantify and compare pathogen occurrence in the engineered water cycle for communities with direct, indirect, and de facto potable reuse, and develop a inform monitoring strategies for potable reuse.

Mechanisms of virus inactivation

Enteric viruses in the engineered water cycle are generally quantified via culture methods or molecular methods. While culture methods are ideal for quantifying infectious viruses, molecular methods are still commonly used because they tend to have higher sensitivity and faster turnaround times and not all viruses are easily culturable. The goal of this project is to develop and evaluate molecular methods to assess enteric virus inactivation mechanisms and persistence in the engineered water cycle.

Enhanced microbial monitoring in the engineered water cycle

Enhanced methods of microbial assessment include methods for microbial abundance (e.g., flow cytometry-based cell counts), microbial community composition (e.g., DNA sequencing), and specific microbial targets (e.g., qPCR). The goal of this project is to combine high resolution enhanced microbial assessment data along with physicochemical water quality data and machine learning could aid in early identification of common issues in water systems.


Publications last scraped from Google Scholar for Lauren C Kennedy in January 2024
*authors contributed equally to the work

Temperature and particles interact to affect human norovirus and MS2 persistence in surface water

LC Kennedy, SA Lowry, AB Boehm
(2024). Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts

Persistence of Human Norovirus (GII) in Surface Water: Decay Rate Constants and Inactivation Mechanisms

LC Kennedy, VP Costantini, KA Huynh, SK Loeb, WC Jennings, S Lowry, ...
(2023). Environmental Science & Technology 57 (9), 3671-3679

Stay in the loop: lessons learned about the microbial water quality in pipe loops transitioned from conventional to direct potable reuse water

LC Kennedy*, SE Miller*, RS Kantor, HD Greenwald, MJ Adelman, ...
(2023). Environmental Science: Water Research & Technology

Microbial Water Quality through a Full-Scale Advanced Wastewater Treatment Demonstration Facility

S Miller, H Greenwald, LC Kennedy, RS Kantor, R Jiang, A Pisarenko, ...
(2022). ACS Es&t Engineering 2 (12), 2206-2219

Is flushing necessary during building closures? A study of water quality and bacterial communities during extended reductions in building occupancy

H Greenwald, LC Kennedy, A Ehde, Y Duan, CI Olivares, R Kantor, ...
(2022). Frontiers in Water 4, 958523

Estimating Relative Abundance of 2 SARS-CoV-2 Variants through Wastewater Surveillance at 2 Large Metropolitan Sites, United States

AT Yu, B Hughes, MK Wolfe, T Leon, D Duong, A Rabe, LC Kennedy, ...
(2022). Emerging Infectious Diseases 28 (5), 940-947

Operationalizing a routine wastewater monitoring laboratory for SARS-CoV-2

RS Kantor, HD Greenwald, LC Kennedy, A Hinkle, S Harris-Lovett, ...
(2022). PLOS Water 1 (2), e0000007

Legionella pneumophila occurrence in reduced-occupancy buildings in 11 cities during the COVID-19 pandemic (preprint)

K Dowdell, H Greenwald, S Joshi, M Grimard-Conea, S Pitell, Y Song, ...

Comparison of RT-qPCR and digital PCR methods for wastewater-based testing of SARS-CoV-2

A Hinkle, HD Greenwald, M Metzger, M Thornton, LC Kennedy, K Loomis, ...
(2022). medRxiv, 2022.06. 15.22276459

SARS-CoV-2 RNA is enriched by orders of magnitude in primary settled solids relative to liquid wastewater at publicly owned treatment works

S Kim, LC Kennedy, MK Wolfe, CS Criddle, DH Duong, A Topol, BJ White, ...
(2022). Environmental Science: Water Research & Technology 8 (4), 757-770

Tools for interpretation of wastewater SARS-CoV-2 temporal and spatial trends demonstrated with data collected in the San Francisco Bay Area

HD Greenwald*, LC Kennedy*, A Hinkle, ON Whitney, VB Fan, ...
(2021). Water Research X 12, 100111

Sewage, Salt, Silica, and SARS-CoV-2 (4S): An Economical Kit-Free Method for Direct Capture of SARS-CoV-2 RNA from Wastewater

ON Whitney, LC Kennedy, VB Fan, A Hinkle, R Kantor, H Greenwald, ...
(2021). Environmental science & technology 55 (8), 4880-4888

Challenges in Measuring the Recovery of SARS-CoV-2 from Wastewater

RS Kantor, KL Nelson, HD Greenwald, LC Kennedy
(2021). Environmental Science & Technology 55 (6), 3514-3519

Genome sequencing of sewage detects regionally prevalent SARS-CoV-2 variants

A Crits-Christoph, RS Kantor, MR Olm, ON Whitney, B Al-Shayeb, YC Lou, ...
(2021). MBio 12 (1), e02703-20

Effect of disinfectant residual, pH, and temperature on microbial abundance in disinfected drinking water distribution systems

LC Kennedy, SE Miller, RS Kantor, KL Nelson
(2021). Environmental Science: Water Research & Technology 7 (1), 78-92

High-throughput DNA sequencing to profile microbial water quality of potable reuse

MB Leddy, MH Plumlee, RS Kantor, KL Nelson, SE Miller, LC Kennedy, ...
(2018). Water Innov, 33-37

CNC-loaded hydrogel particles generated from single-and double-emulsion drops

C Ye, L Kennedy, K Shirk, UM Córdova-Figueroa, J Youngblood, ...
(2015). Green Materials 3 (1), 25-34


    The University of Texas at El Paso

  • CE 2385: Environmental Engineering Fundamentals

    Spring 2024
    CE 2385 introduces the scientific knowledge applied to minimize environmental contaminants and their adverse impacts. Contaminants that impact environmental resources and human health are commonly controlled by applying fundamental concepts, for example from chemistry and fluid mechanics. In this course, students will learn how fundamental concepts can be applied to remove, transport, and/or transform contaminants in engineered and natural systems. This course introduces the principles of water quality engineering, air quality engineering, and hazardous waste management.

  • Stanford University

  • CEE 274P: Environmental Health Microbiology

    Autumn 2022
    Students gain microbiology skills including culture-, microscope-, and molecular-based detection techniques. The course focuses on standard and EPA-approved methods to enumerate and isolate organisms used to assess risk of enteric illnesses, such as coliforms, enterococci, and coliphage, in drinking and recreational waters including lakes, streams, and coastal waters. The course includes a student project to assess the microbial water quality of a natural water.


Dr. Lauren Kennedy is recruiting Civil and Environmental Engineering candidates for fully-funded PhD student positions in Fall 2024. The Kennedy Water Lab aims to characterize microbial community dynamics, occurrence, and persistence in the engineered water cycle, and apply these data to protect public health and wellbeing as well as the environment. Ideal candidates are interested in microorganisms in the engineered water cycle, and particularly potable reuse. El Paso, TX is on track to build the first full-scale treated water augmentation system (also called direct-to-distribution direct potable reuse) in the United States. Our research group frequently collaborates with this water utility, El Paso Water, to apply our research findings.

Applicants should submit the following to Dr. Kennedy by March 31st:

  • A resume or CV
  • A brief motivation letter (one page or less)
  • Contact information for two references
  • The review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the positions are filled. Applicants also need to submit the required materials to the Civil Engineering program at The University of Texas at El Paso.

    Please contact Dr. Kennedy if you have any questions.