Joe Brown

Assistant Professor

Ph. D. University North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Phone: (205) 348-0418


Joe Brown received a Ph.D. in Environmental Sciences and Engineering from the University of North Carolina. He was appointed Assistant Professor at the University of Alabama in 2007. Dr. Brown has a joint appointment with the Department of Biological Sciences and New College.

Research Interests

My research focuses on environmental health microbiology and the epidemiology of waterborne infectious diseases. Specifically, I am interested in low-cost, sustainable environmental health interventions to reduce the burden of diarrheal diseases in marginalized populations in both developing and developed countries.

Current research projects are:

Effectiveness of alternative drinking water treatment technologies

Low-cost, household-scale water treatment technologies, such as ceramic and granular media filters, are among the most effective environmental health interventions now in use in developing countries. Research in my lab focuses on technology testing and development to evaluate and improve the reduction of biological and chemical contaminants in these and other devices. Field trials in developing countries provide useful data on effectiveness against target pathogens in situ and potential for reduction in diarrheal disease through epidemiological and quantitative microbial risk assessment (QMRA) approaches. Our current research sites are in Cambodia and South Africa.

Rural water quality and health in the Black Belt

Water and sanitation-related environmental health exposures contribute to a greater burden of disease in poor areas of the USA. Research in my lab aims to quantify disease risks associated with environmental quality in the Black Belt region of Alabama, specifically with relation to drinking water quality and access to infrastructure and services.

Selected Publications

Brown, J. Sobsey, M. and Proum, S. 2007. Use of ceramic water filters in Cambodia. Washington, DC: WSP-World Bank Field Note Available online at

Clasen, T., Brown, J., Collin, S. 2006. Preventing diarrhoea with household ceramic water filters: assessment of a pilot project in Bolivia. International Journal of Environmental Health Research 16(3):231-239.

Clasen, T., Brown, J., Collin, S., Suntura, O., and Cairncross, S. 2004. “Reducing diarrhea through the use of household-based ceramic water filters: a randomized, controlled trial in rural Bolivia”. American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 70(6): 651-657.

Clasen, T., Brown, J., Suntura, O. and Collin, S. 2004. “Tratamiento casero de agua con filtros de cerámica por goteo”. Caudal Revista Pectoral de Agua y Saneamiento – Bolivia 4: 20-22.

Clasen, T., Brown, J., Suntura, O., and Collin, S. 2004. “Safe household water treatment and storage using ceramic drip filters: a randomized controlled trial in Bolivia”. Water Science and Technology 50(1):111-115.

Johnson, P., Watson, M., Brown, J., Jefcoat, I.A. 2002. “Peanut hull pellets as a single use sorbent for the capture of Cu (II) from wastewater”. Waste Management 22(5): 471-480.

Brown, P., Brown, J., and Allen, S. 2001. “The application of kudzu as a medium for the adsorption of heavy metals from dilute aqueous wastestreams”. Bioresource Technology 78:195-201.

Brown, J. 2000. “Kudzu as a medium for the adsorption of heavy metals in dilute aqueous wastestreams”, American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE): Practice Periodical of Hazardous, Toxic, and Radioactive Waste Management 4:82-87.