Kara L. Nelson

Kara L. Nelson
Environmental Engineering

Detection, removal, and inactivation of pathogens in water and sludge; Water reuse; Nutrient recovery; Drinking water and sanitation in developing countries.

Office 663 Davis Hall
Email karanelson@berkeley.edu
Phone (510) 643-5023

Office Hours:

Fall 2017:

  • Thu 4:00 - 5:00 PM in 663 Davis
  • Mon 4:00 - 5:00 PM in 221 Bechtel

Or by appointment (email me)


Kara Nelson is a Professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Associate Dean for Equity and Inclusion in the College of Engineering.  She received her B.A. degree in biophysics from U.C. Berkeley, her M.S.E. degree in environmental engineering from the University of Washington, and her Ph.D. in environmental engineering from U.C. Davis. Her research program addresses critical issues at the intersection of public health and the environment, with a focus on reducing the threat posed by waterborne pathogens by improving our engineering infrastructure to make it more effective, affordable, as well as maximize its environmental benefits.  Specific research areas include mechanisms of pathogen inactivation, molecular techniques for pathogen detection, optimizing treatment processes, water reuse, nutrient recovery from source-separated urine, and challenges with providing safe drinking water and sanitation in the developing world.  Dr. Nelson has published over 75 articles in peer-reviewed journals, including two invited reviews, and one book chapter. She is Leader of the Engineering Research Thrust at the Engineering Research Center for Reinventing our Nation’s Urban Water Infrastructure (ReNUWIt).  Dr. Nelson was awarded the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) at a ceremony in the White House in 2004.  This award is the nation’s highest honor for scientists in the early stages of their career.  She currently conducts research in the United States, India, Bangladesh, Kenya, Panama, and Colombia.  


Ph.D. - Environmental Engineering, University of California at Davis, 2001
M.S.E. - Environmental Engineering, University of Washington, 1996
B.A. - Biophysics, University of California at Berkeley, 1992