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Katherine Alfredo Selected As JSB Environmental Fellowship Recipient

Solving 21st Century environmental engineering problems requires a new generation of leaders in academia and industry. One initiative developing a cadre of enviro-centric professionals is the JPB Environmental Health Fellowship Program of Harvard University's T.H. Chan School of Public  Health.

Among this year's selectees is University of South Florida Civil and Environmental Engineering Assistant Professor Katherine Alfredo.

The selection as a JPB junior faculty member follows previous roles Alfredo has had with initiatives promoting better health by improving access to and management of water resources through environmental engineering practices.

After earning her PhD in environmental engineering from the University of Texas at Austin, Alfredo has also been a postdoctoral fellow of the Earth Institute at the Columbia Water Center, which promotes education and research about water and related resources in areas such as sustaining quantity and quality of potable supplies in a variety of disparate settings, from rural to urban.

Putting her expertise to work in real-world situations has provided Alfredo with international experience including two US Fulbright fellowships. Her first, a U.S. Student Fulbright fellowship was awarded in 2008 to support research on cultural complications involved in rural water treatment and management in Ghana. Alfredo's second Fulbright award was in 2015, as a Fulbright-Nehru postdoctoral scholar to conduct research about success and failure among rural drinking water treatment plants.

According to the public health school’s website about the program,, “the JPB Foundation advances opportunity in the United States through transformational initiatives that empower those living in poverty, enrich and sustain our environment, and enable pioneering medical research.” 

Alfredo credits a variety of resources at USF for helping her achieve goals such as her JPB selection.

“I have found the mentoring I receive from senior faculty within environmental engineering the most helpful. Being a close-knit community, I have felt extremely supported with faculty members ensuring I apply for opportunities and help review unsuccessful grant applications to continuously improve.” Alfredo adds that the commitment by the College of Engineering to the larger community is substantial in the teaching and research occurring there.

“If you look at the type of research the environmental and water resources engineering faculty are engaged in, we are deeply committed to improving the environment and health of society.  I find this inspiring and it pushes me to continue incorporating societal aspects into my own work/research.”

The program brings together selectees from a variety of disciplines, ranging from public health to social and physical sciences, as well as engineering. The focus is on supporting career development of junior faculty but senior researchers from federal agencies also participate in JPB activities.

Drinking water quality as well as sustainability of the natural resource characterize much of Alfredo’s research work. She has also conducted research in water treatment processes and rate-setting by utilities. Other research areas Alfredo has investigated include promoting access to higher-quality potable water, domestic and international water regulations, and developing water technology and infrastructure with local community concerns in mind.

“A lot of my work is at the boundary between technology and society,” says Alfredo. “Society can have a direct impact on the success rate of treatment technology that is used in either rural or home/point-of-use situations. If the user doesn’t like or trust something, it really doesn’t matter how efficient the water treatment or technology performs.”

Alfredo, who came to USF in 2019, is also actively involved in mentoring her students such as her role in advising a group who presented a research project on identifying nitrates in drinking water as part of the second annual #OneUSF virtual undergraduate research conference held in 2022.

Prior to being awarded her PhD, Alfredo earned her bachelor’s degree in civil engineering at The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York City and her MSE in environmental engineering from the University of Texas at Austin.

The JPB Foundation was established with a bequeathed endowment by Jeffry M. Picower, and is led by Barbara Picower as president and chair. Its program focus areas include poverty, medical research, and the environment. You can learn more about the JPB Foundation and its work in promoting initiatives ranging from healthy living to social justice at

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