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Katya Cherukumilli

Autumn 2023

Water You Drinking?

Concerns with drinking water quality plague individual and institutional users worldwide. Over 2 billion people worldwide lack safe water access and millions of Americans are exposed to aqueous chemical contaminants through their consumption of public and private drinking water supplies. The purpose of this year-long DRG is to develop replicable survey tools, experimental methods, and data collection protocols to characterize drinking water usage, assess and experimentally validate perceptions of water safety and risk, and communicate technical knowledge to the public. 

To contextualize our work, we will identify and map water infrastructure in select UW campus buildings and document building occupants’ experiences and opinions about their access (or lack thereof) to high quality water sources. A quick walk around campus clearly demonstrates the age of different UW College of Engineering (est. 1901) buildings, ranging from Roberts Hall (est. 1921) to the Interdisciplinary Engineering Building (under construction, occupancy in 2025) – we will uncover if and how building age impacts the quality of drinking water taps and fountains.

In this DRG, students will have the opportunity to establish and use a water quality testing lab in More Hall and develop a sampling and analysis protocol for future work. In parallel, students will collaborate in teams to design an interactive dashboard to report concerning water quality results, conduct virtual and in-person surveys, summarize common trends in interview data, and synthesize/share resources on water treatment and monitoring technologies. No previous wet-lab experience is required, but an interest in social equity, environmental justice issues, and/or scientific curiosity will be appreciated. 

When: Meet in-person 1-2 hours/week (date, time, location to be decided based on student availability); additional independent work and group meetings for ~ 4 hours/week. 

Credits: 2 credits recommended (equivalent to 6 hours of work per week).  

Contact: For questions or concerns, please contact Assistant Professor Dr. Katya Cherukumilli (

Application: Please complete this google form by EOD Wednesday, September 20th. Decisions will be made by Monday, September 25th and our first meeting will be held on Thursday, September 28th (time and location TBD).