IESc Seminar Series: Leveraging Wastewater-based Epidemiology to Predict COVID-19 Prevalence and Identify Variants of Concern - By Dr. Devrim Kaya

Monday, April 10, 2023

Institute of Environmental Sciences Seminar Series

Leveraging Wastewater-based Epidemiology to Predict COVID-19 Prevalence and Identify Variants of Concern

By Dr. Devrim Kaya

Oregon State University

We cordially invite you to our online seminar “Leveraging Wastewater-based Epidemiology to Predict COVID-19 Prevalence and Identify Variants of Concern” by Dr. Devrim Kaya, Oregon State University.

When: 10 April, Monday, 17:00-18:00

Where: We will be sharing the Zoom link with the registrants a few days before the seminar via email. Please do not forget to register using the below link.

Registration link:


The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the importance of population-level infectious disease surveillance. Wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) is a cost-effective tool for monitoring SARS-CoV-2 independent of testing access or symptomatic infection. In this seminar, I will discuss my work at the University of Maryland in tracking SARS-CoV-2 RNA in wastewater and at Oregon State University in tracking COVID-19 population dynamics. Our research has shown that composite sampling is more effective than grab sampling for detecting and quantifying SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater, particularly in smaller catchment basins. By leveraging WBE, we have successfully predicted COVID-19 prevalence and tracked the trends of variants of concern, allowing for targeted public health measures to be taken. We have also identified hotspots of COVID-19 infections, even at the level of individual dorm buildings on college campuses. Our methods have enabled us to predict COVID-19 prevalence and track trends of variants of concern, including identifying the Beta variant weeks prior to clinical samples. Overall, our WBE efforts highlight the potential of this approach as a cost-effective and unbiased tool for population-level monitoring of infectious diseases like COVID-19, and I will demonstrate how it can be used to track the spread of SARS-CoV-2 variants and identify hotspots of COVID-19 infections at various scales.

About Devrim Kaya:

Dr. Kaya holds a Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering from Middle East Technical University and has completed postdoctoral training in Microbiology at the University of Tennessee Knoxville with a join appointment at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN, USA. With hands-on research and teaching experience from 9 different academic/research institutions, she specializes in research related to the fate and transformation of toxic persistent and emerging pollutants in natural and built environments, energy production from biomass, development/application of molecular biological tools, sampling techniques, and analysis methods, and wastewater-based epidemiology. Dr. Kaya’s research has been funded by various prestigious organizations including the US Department of Defense, National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institute of Health (NIH) and has received over 30 awards, including the American Society of Microbiology Peggy Cotter Early Career Award, the NIH’s AIM-AHEAD Research Mentoring Fellowship, and NSF ACADEME fellowship. She has published over 20 peer-reviewed papers, presented at over 70 scientific international and national conferences/symposiums/meetings, and mentored students/researchers at various academic levels. She is an active member of several professional societies, a reviewer for numerous peer-reviewed journals, and has extensive teaching experience ranging from introductory to upper-level courses. Currently, as a senior scientist/graduate faculty at Oregon State University, she leads laboratory efforts of statewide COVID-19 sewer surveillance projects for infectious disease control while supervising and mentoring graduate and undergraduate students including research assistants.