Russell Sage College

logo: Russell Sage College

Russell Sage College

logo: Russell Sage College
Thinking Locally, Globally and Collaboratively

Summer Research Project Looks for Faster Ways to Disinfect Drinking Water

Sarah-Gabrielle-Casimir_CSTEP-6_21-63-1024x683
Sarah-Gabrielle Casimir, CSTEP research student with her faculty mentor, Emilly Obuya.

“Contamination is a worldwide issue,” said Russell Sage College Biology major Sarah-Gabrielle Casimir ’22. “If you go to any pond or any river there will be some contamination in the water.”

It’s a serious public health problem for communities that lack reliable access to clean drinking water.

Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry Emilly Obuya, Ph.D., has involved dozens of Sage students in her work to develop sustainable methods that individuals can use to make contaminated water safe to drink.

Her previous research teams studied the solar disinfection — or SODIS — technique, with a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

SODIS uses plastic bottles and sunlight to purify water. It is simple and effective, but it takes a minimum of four hours.

This summer, Sarah-Gabrielle worked with Professor Obuya to make the SODIS method more efficient.

“I’m continuing the project, but instead of focusing [only] on SODIS, we are adding silver nanoparticles,” said Sarah-Gabrielle.

Professor Obuya is hopeful that the right combination of SODIS and silver nanoparticles could disinfect a bottle of water in about 40 minutes.

A grant from the New York State Department of Education’s Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program — known as CSTEP — supported Sarah-Gabrielle’s involvement.

She said the research experience will help her stand out on medical school applications, and that the collaboration with Professor Obuya has pushed her to see how she can use science to help communities.

“Working with Dr. Obuya has taught me a lot, from discipline to organization and learning about research,” she said. “I am really grateful for this opportunity.”


The following students and faculty and professional mentors also collaborated on CSTEP-supported summer research in 2021:

Breanna Burns ’23, Eden Kuri ’22 and Assistant Professor and Director of Service Learning and Community Engagement Ali Schaeffing, Ph.D.: “College Access and Newcomer Students: Bridging the Gap to Promote Educational Success”

Shawntavia Bailey ’23 and Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry Emilly Obuya, Ph.D.: “Conspiracy Opportunity Vaccine Ignored Damage”

Mariah Van Avery ’22, Robert Martiniano DrPH, MPA, Senior Program Manager, Center for Health Workforce Studies and Anh Le, Program Coordinator, Hudson Mohawk AHEC: “Understanding the Impact of Victimization on Teen Pregnancy of Sexual Minority Women”

Ruquiah Laville ‘22, Robert Martiniano DrPH, MPA, Senior Program Manager, Center for Health Workforce Studies and Anh Le, Program Coordinator, Hudson Mohawk AHEC: “Implicit Bias and Disparities in Maternal Mortality”

Adelyn Santos ’21, Robert Martiniano DrPH, MPA, Senior Program Manager, Center for Health Workforce Studies and Anh Le, Program Coordinator, Hudson Mohawk AHEC: “The Health of Underrepresented Minorities Influenced by Social Factors”

Praescilla Daquin ’22, Kristyna Davis, Chelsea Uzibor ’22, Associate Professor of Nursing Glenda Kelman, Ph.D., and Assistant Professor of Nursing Gertrude B. Hutchinson, DNS: “The Oral History of the Lived Experience of Russell Sage College Nursing Alumni”