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Kara Nelson, PhD is the Blum Chancellor's Chair in Development Engineering, Chair of the Development Engineering Graduate Group, and a Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at UC Berkeley. Nelson’s research investigates practices to improve wastewater-based epidemiology, water reuse, disinfection, nutrient recovery, and international water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH).


She teaches courses on innovation in the water sector; water treatment processes; pathogen detection and inactivation; and natural treatment systems. Nelson received the Chancellor’s Public Service Award for Campus Community Partnership, a Fulbright Fellowship, and the National Science Foundation PECASE Award. She is passionate about creating a climate in which everyone belongs and can reach their full potential, and served as Associate Dean for Equity and Inclusion in the College of Engineering.


She has a BA in Biophysics from University of California, Berkeley; an MSE in Environmental Engineering from the University of Washington; and a PhD in Environmental Engineering from University of California, Davis.

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