Kellogg J. Schwab

Research and Professional Interests

Kellogg Schwab is a Professor in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health and Director of both the JHU Water Institute and the JHU Center for Water and Health. In January 2009, in collaboration with JHU colleagues, Dr. Schwab initiated the former JHU Global Water Program, which has now evolved into the Water Institute. The Water Institute fosters collaborative research among Hopkins researchers from public health, engineering, behavior, policy and economic disciplines to address the critical triangle of water, food, environment, and energy.

The goal of this program is to achieve sustainable, scalable solutions for disparate water needs both internationally and domestically. Dr. Schwab’s research focuses on environmental microbiology and engineering with an emphasis on the fate and transport of pathogenic microorganisms in water, food and the environment. This work includes extensive laboratory-based research designed to develop and evaluate molecular detection methods with subsequent application of these methods in field-based investigations. Data gathered during these studies are then integrated into exposure assessments for risk analysis and microbial risk assessment.

In collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state health laboratories Dr. Schwab has investigated numerous waterborne and foodborne outbreaks of viral gastroenteritis. Dr. Schwab’s current research projects involve improving environmental detection methods for noroviruses (the leading cause of non-bacterial gastroenteritis worldwide) by integrating quantitative reverse transcription-PCR, proteomics and pyrosequencing. He is also investigating how important human pathogens including noroviruses, hepatitis A virus, rotaviruses, Campylobacter, antibiotic resistant E. coli and enterococci, Cryptosporidium parvum, Toxoplasma gondii and molds such as Aspergillus persist and are transported through environmental media (water, air, and food).

Applying classical and molecular diagnostic tools, he has developed and participated in multiple research projects designed to evaluate the public health impacts of improving water access and potable water quality and the effectiveness of point-of-use water treatment. His research group has also examined the health effects of inadequate management of human and animal waste with a focus on assessing the impact of concentrated animal feeding operations on human health, the environment and quality of life in the communities in which these operations are located. He continues to evaluate the impact of human pollution on urban streams and the Chesapeake Bay caused by aging and deteriorating distribution systems by combining microbial, chemical and geographic information system (GIS) data.

Recent international work has focused on developing field-portable microbial and chemical laboratories. These self-contained labs facilitate evidence-based assessments of point of use and community level water treatment systems designed to provide potable water to individuals in low income countries including Nicaragua, Peru, Ghana and South Africa.

Dr. Schwab organized a high level conference at the Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Center on Accelerating sustainable, people-centered integrated water services for the poor, from August 29 through September 1, 2011.

Selected Publications:

  • Ajmani, G. S., Cho, H. H., Abbott Chalew, T. E., Schwab, K. J., Jacangelo, J. G., & Huang, H. Static and dynamic removal of aquatic natural organic matter by carbon nanotubes. Water research, V59 p262-270. 2014.
  • Heaney, C. D., Exum, N. G., Dufour, A. P., Brenner, K. P., Haugland, R. A., Chern, E., ... & Wade, T. J. Water quality, weather and environmental factors associated with fecal indicator organism density in beach sand at two recreational marine beaches. Science of The Total Environment, V497 p440-447. 2014.
  • Julian, T. R., Trumble, J. M., & Schwab, K. J. Evaluating Efficacy of Field-Generated Electrochemical Oxidants on Disinfection of Fomites Using Bacteriophage MS2 and Mouse Norovirus MNV-1 as Pathogenic Virus Surrogates. Food and environmental virology, V6(2) p145-155. 2014.
  • Sapkota, A. R., Kinney, E. L., George, A., Hulet, R. M., Cruz-Cano, R., Schwab, K. J., ... & Joseph, S. W. Lower prevalence of antibiotic-resistant Salmonella on large-scale US conventional poultry farms that transitioned to organic practices. Science of The Total Environment, V476 p387-392. 2014.
  • Chalew, T. E. A., & Schwab, K. J. Toxicity of commercially available engineered nanoparticles to Caco-2 and SW480 human intestinal epithelial cells. Cell biology and toxicology, V29(2) p101-116. 2013.
  • Julian, T. R., MacDonald, L. H., Guo, Y., Marks, S. J., Kosek, M., Yori, P. P., ... & Schwab, K. J. Fecal Indicator Bacteria Contamination of Fomites and Household Demand for Surface Disinfection Products: A Case Study from Peru.The American journal of tropical medicine and hygiene, V89(5) p869-872. 2013.
  • Opryszko, M. C., Guo, Y., MacDonald, L., MacDonald, L., Kiihl, S., & Schwab, K. J. Impact of water-vending kiosks and hygiene education on household drinking water quality in rural Ghana. The American journal of tropical medicine and hygiene, V88(4) p651-660. 2013.
  • Vignon-Zellweger, N., Relle, K., Rahnenführer, J., Schwab, K., Hocher, B., & Theuring, F. Endothelin-1 overexpression and endothelial nitric oxide synthase knock-out induce different pathological responses in the heart of male and female mice. Life sciences. 2013.
  • Gibson KE, Schwab KJ, Spencer BS, Borchardt M. Measuring and Mitigating Inhibition during Quantitative Real Time PCR Analysis of Viral Nucleic Acid Extracts from Large-Volume Environmental Water Samples. Water Research, V46 pp4281-4291. 2012.
  • Pickering A, Julian T, Marks S, Mattioli M, Boehm A, Schwab KJ, Davis, J. Fecal contamination and diarrheal pathogens on surfaces and in soils among Tanzanian households with and without improved sanitation. Environ. Sci. and Technol.V46 (11), p5736-43. 2012.
  • Julian T, Schwab KJ. Challenges in environmental detection of human viral pathogens. Current Opinion in Virology. V2 p 1-6. 2012.
  • Harding A, Schwab KJ. Using limes and synthetic psoralens to enhance solar disinfection of water (SODIS): A laboratory evaluation with norovirus, Escherichia coli, and MS2. Am. J. Trop. Med. Hyg. V86 (4). P566-572. 2012.
  • Sapkota AR, Hulet RM, Zhang G, McDermott P, Schwab KJ, Joseph SW. Immediate reductions in the prevalence of antibiotic-resistant Enterococci as U.S. conventional poultry farms transition to organic practices. Environ Health Perspect. V119 (11). p1622-1628, 2011.

Regional Experience:

West Africa: Ghana; Latin America: Peru, Nicaragua; South Asia: India

JHU Water Magazine articles authored:

Themes Categories:

Water and Health
Water in the Environment

People Categories:

Leadership Committee
Steering Committee
NSF IGERT Participant
Magazine Author


Kellogg Schwab, environmental microbiology and engineering