Dr. Alasdair Cohen

Population Health Sciences

Dr. Cohen conducts research on drinking water (contamination, treatment, and supply) and environmental health in low-income rural communities, with a focus on developing safe water programs. He has over ten years of international experience and has worked for multiple United Nations agencies on projects developing and evaluating water- and poverty-related indicators, including the 2008-2014 design and management of a project to construct the Multidimensional Poverty Assessment Tool. Cohen received his PhD in Environmental Science, Policy & Management, and an MPH in Epidemiology, from the University of California, Berkeley, as well as an MSc in Water Science, Policy, & Management from the University of Oxford. He has taught courses on randomized controlled trials and water & development.


Prior to coming to Virginia Tech, Dr. Cohen worked at UC Berkeley as a Project Scientist and Research Director for The Berkeley/China-CDC Program for Water & Health, a program he helped create and has now expanded to Virginia Tech. Currently, Dr. Cohen is an Assistant Professor of Environmental Epidemiology in the Department of Population Health Sciences at Virginia Tech.


Berkeley/ China/ Virginia Tech Program for Water & Health website

Recent Relevant Publications

Du, W., Cohen, A., Shen, G., Ru, M., Shen, H., & Shu, T. (2018). Fuel use trends for boiling water in rural China (1992-2012) & environmental health implications: A national cross-sectional study. Environmental Science & Technology [link]

Cohen, A. & Ray, I. (2018). The global risks of increasing reliance on bottled water. Nature Sustainability [link], 1 (7), 327-329.

Luo, Q., Cohen, A., Zhong, G., & Tao, Y. (2018). 广西农村家庭饮水行为现状及影响因素分析[Status & influential factors of drinking water behavior in rural households of Guangxi].中国公共卫生 [Chinese Journal of Public Health] [link], 34 (1), 21-24.

Cohen, A. & Colford, J. M. (2017). Effects of boiling drinking water on diarrhea & pathogen-specific infections in low- & middle-income countries: A systematic review & meta-analysis. American Journal of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene [link], 97 (5), 1362-1377.

Cohen, A., Zhang, Q., Luo, Q., Tao, Y., Colford, J. M., & Ray, I. (2017). Predictors of drinking water boiling & bottled water consumption in rural China: A hierarchical modeling approach. Environmental Science & Technology [link], 51 (12), 6945-6956.

Cohen, A., Tao, Y., Luo, Q., Zhong, G., Romm, J., Colford, J. M., & Ray, I. (2015). Microbiological evaluation of household drinking water treatment in rural China shows benefits of electric kettles: A cross-sectional study. PLoS ONE [link] 10 (9), e0138451.

Cohen, A. & Saisana, M. (2014). Quantifying the qualitative: Eliciting expert input to develop the Multidimensional Poverty Assessment Tool. Journal of Development Studies [link], 1 (50) 35-50.

Cohen, A. & Sullivan, C. (2010). Water & poverty in rural China: Developing an instrument to assess the multiple dimensions of water & poverty. Ecological Economics [link], 69 (5) 999-1009.

Cohen, A. (2010). The Multidimensional Poverty Assessment Tool: A new framework for measuring rural poverty. Development in Practice [link], 20 (7) 887-897.