Environmental Engineering and Infectious Disease Pathology

Lisa Colosi-Peterson is an associate professor in the Department of Engineering Systems and Environment and founding co-director of the UVA Life Cycle Assessment Lab. Her research focuses on making water and energy systems more sustainable and in recent work has emphasized energy-efficient removal of unregulated contaminants in municipal and industrial wastewaters.

"I strive to make water and energy systems less impactful on each other and the global climate,” Colosi-Peterson said.

In a collaborative seed grant with Dr. Amy Mathers, Colosi-Peterson’s wastewater engineering expertise is being applied to the study of environmental spread of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, both Mathers and Colosi-Peterson recognized they could pivot the AMR research and their collaborative lab expertise to monitor COVID-19 in both hospital and UVA dorm wastewater.

Through her faculty fellowship, Colosi-Peterson joins the microbiology and pathology laboratories alongside Mathers, developing the diagnostic capabilities for the University-wide dorm water COVID-19 testing. This innovative marriage of environmental engineering and infectious disease pathology will create a novel tool that will impact the University’s ability to treat and act before the virus becomes too widespread.

“This is a very proactive approach. With just a little forewarning provided by the wastewater tests, we might be able to avert an outbreak or stop one from returning,” Colosi-Peterson said.