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

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.