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 three United Nations agencies, 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 UC Berkeley, as well as an MSc in Water Science, Policy, & Management from Oxford. He has taught courses on randomized controlled trials and systematic reviews, as well as water policy and management.

Presently (2018-2019), Cohen is an adjunct faculty member at Virginia Tech and a Project Scientist at UC Berkeley, where he co-manages a water quality & environmental health project in the Philippines and serves as Research Director for the Berkeley/China-CDC Program for Water & Health.


In August 2019, Cohen will start as an Assistant Professor of Environmental Epidemiology in the Department of Population Health Sciences at Virginia Tech.

Email address

In the News

Water & Health in Rural China & Appalachia Conference scheduled for October 4, 2019


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.