Dr. Sara Beck (she/her) joined the Department of Civil Engineering as an Assistant Professor in April of 2021 with a research group focused on understanding and preventing pathogen transmission at the confluence of public health, water quality and innovative water treatment solutions. She and her students use microbiology tools to improve water treatment and reuse processes and bridge the gap between knowledge and practice. Prior to joining UBC, Dr. Beck evaluated cost-effective decentralized water reuse technologies at the Asian Institute of Technology near Bangkok, Thailand and at Eawag, the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology near Zurich, Switzerland.

Dr. Beck earned her Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering from the University of Colorado Boulder in 2015. Her doctoral dissertation on Wavelength-Specific Effects of UV Light on Microorganisms and Viruses for Improving Water Disinfection received the Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation award by the Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors (AEESP) in 2016. She received an M.S. in Environmental Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology and a B.S. / B.A. in Aerospace Engineering / Studio Art from the University of Colorado Boulder. In her first career, as a NASA flight controller, she supported the Space Shuttle and International Space Station programs.

Research Interests

Ultraviolet disinfection mechanisms, applications of UV LEDs (light emitting diodes), water disinfection, water reuse, decentralized systems, appropriate technology, applied environmental microbiology, molecular biology


CIVL 409 Municipal Engineering
CIVL 598W Water and Sanitation in Low Resource Contexts

Awards & Recognitions

  • 2021, Discovery Accelerator Supplement, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada
  • 2017-2019, Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag)
  • 2017, Best Publication, International Ultraviolet Association (IUVA)
  • 2017, Astronaut Candidate Finalist, NASA
  • 2016, Paul V. Roberts Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation, Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors (AEESP)
  • 2015, Fulbright Scholar Award
  • 2012, P.E.O. Scholar Award
  • 2010-2013, Graduate Fellowship, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA STAR)


  • C.M. George, A. Birindwa, S.E. Beck, T. Julian, J. Kuhl, C. Williams, N. Coglianese, E. Thomas, S. Bauler, R. François, A. Ng, A.S. Presence, B.R. Jean Claude, F. Tofail, J. Perin, P. Mirindi, L.B. Cirhuza. Fecal contamination in child play spaces and on child hands are associated with subsequent adverse child developmental outcomes in rural Democratic Republic of the Congo: REDUCE prospective cohort study. Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2022.
  • C. Marie George, Cirhuza, L. Bisimwa, Birindwa, A., Williams, C., Beck, S., Julian, T., Kuhl, J., Coglianese, N., Thomas, E., Bauler, S., çois, R., Saxton, R., Presence, A. Sanvura, Rusanga, J. Claude Bis, Perin, J., and Mirindi, P., “Child hand contamination is associated with subsequent pediatric diarrhea in rural Democratic Republic of the Congo (REDUCE Program)”, Tropical Medicine & International Health, vol. 26, no. 13, pp. 102 – 110, 2021.
  • S. Popova, Tsenter, I., Garkusheva, N., Beck, S., Matafonova, G., and Batoev, V., “Evaluating (sono)-photo-Fenton-like processes with high-frequency ultrasound and UVA LEDs for degradation of organic micropollutants and inactivation of bacteria separately and simultaneously”, Journal of Environmental Chemical Engineering, no. 398, p. 105249, 2021.
  • S. Beck, Suwan, P., Rathnayeke, T., Nguyen, T. Minh Hong, Huanambal-Sovero, V. A., Boonyapalanant, B., Hull, N. M., and Koottatep, T., “Woven-Fiber Microfiltration (WFMF) and Ultraviolet Light Emitting Diodes (UV LEDs) for Treating Wastewater and Septic Tank Effluent”, Water, vol. 13, no. 11, p. 1564, 2021.
  • T. Minh Hong Nguyen, Suwan, P., Koottatep, T., and Beck, S., “Application of a novel, continuous-feeding ultraviolet light emitting diode (UV-LED) system to disinfect domestic wastewater for discharge or agricultural reuse”, Water Research, vol. 153, pp. 53 – 62, 2019.
  • H. Woo, Beck, S., Boczek, L., Carlson, K., Brinkman, N., Linden, K., Lawal, O., Hayes, S., and Ryu, H., “Efficacy of Inactivation of Human Enteroviruses by Dual-Wavelength Germicidal Ultraviolet (UV-C) Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs)”, Water, vol. 1151, no. 6, p. 1131, 2019.
  • S. Beck, Hull, N. M., Poepping, C., and Linden, K. G., “Wavelength-Dependent Damage to Adenoviral Proteins Across the Germicidal UV Spectrum”, Environmental Science & Technology, vol. 52, no. 142, pp. 223 – 229, 2018.
  • S. Beck, Ryu, H., Boczek, L. A., Cashdollar, J. L., Jeanis, K. M., Rosenblum, J. S., Lawal, O. R., and Linden, K. G., “Evaluating UV-C LED disinfection performance and investigating potential dual-wavelength synergy”, Water Research, vol. 109, pp. 207 – 216, 2017.
  • N. Garkusheva, Matafonova, G., Tsenter, I., Beck, S., Batoev, V., and Linden, K., “Simultaneous atrazine degradation and E. coli inactivation by simulated solar photo-Fenton-like process using persulfate”, Journal of Environmental Science and Health, Part A, vol. 52, no. 9, pp. 849 – 855, 2017.
  • S. Beck, Rodriguez, R. A., Hawkins, M. A., Hargy, T. M., Larason, T. C., and Linden, K. G., “Comparison of UV-Induced Inactivation and RNA Damage in MS2 Phage across the Germicidal UV Spectrum”, Applied and Environmental Microbiology, vol. 82, no. 5, pp. 1468 – 1474, 2016.
  • S. Beck, Wright, H. B., Hargy, T. M., Larason, T. C., and Linden, K. G., “Action spectra for validation of pathogen disinfection in medium-pressure ultraviolet (UV) systems”, Water Research, vol. 75, pp. 27 – 37, 2015.
  • C. Poepping, Beck, S., Wright, H., and Linden, K. G., “Evaluation of DNA damage reversal during medium-pressure UV disinfection”, Water Research, vol. 56, pp. 181 – 189, 2014.
  • R. A. Rodriguez, Bounty, S., Beck, S., Chan, C., McGuire, C., and Linden, K. G., “Photoreactivation of bacteriophages after UV disinfection: Role of genome structure and impacts of UV source”, Water Research, vol. 55, pp. 143 – 149, 2014.
  • S. Beck, Rodriguez, R. A., Linden, K. G., Hargy, T. M., Larason, T. C., and Wright, H. B., “Wavelength Dependent UV Inactivation and DNA Damage of Adenovirus as Measured by Cell Culture Infectivity and Long Range Quantitative PCR”, Environmental Science & Technology, vol. 48, no. 1, pp. 591 – 598, 2014.
  • S. Beck, Rodriguez, R. A., Salveson, A., Goel, N., Rhodes, S., Kehoe, P., and Linden, K. G., “Disinfection Methods for Treating Low TOC, Light Graywater to California Title 22 Water Reuse Standards”, Journal of Environmental Engineering, vol. 139, no. 9, pp. 1137 – 1145, 2013.

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