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Aug. 27, 2020

Media Advisory: President Robert C. Robbins and Ian Pepper Discuss COVID-19 Wastewater-Based Epidemiology

  • What: University of Arizona President Dr. Robert C. Robbins and Ian Pepper, director of the WEST Center, will discuss using wastewater to monitor the incidence of COVID-19.
  • When: Friday, Aug. 28, 10:30 – 11 a.m. (PT)
  • Where: Media who wish to ask questions via Zoom must RSVP to by 9:30 a.m. (PT) Aug. 28 to receive the link.

TUCSON, Ariz. — University of Arizona President Dr. Robert C. Robbins and Ian Pepper, director of the Water and Energy Sustainable Technology Center and a BIO5 Institutemember, will discuss how using wastewater can help the university detect the incidence of COVID-19.

Media who wish to ask questions via Zoom must RSVP with name, outlet and email address to Rosemary Brandt,, by 9:30 a.m. (PT) on Aug. 28 to receive a Zoom invitation.

Wastewater-based epidemiology can be used to determine if the virus is present in a community, even if individuals are asymptomatic. According to previous research, wastewater can be a leading indicator of COVID-19 outbreaks, with the potential to detect the presence of the virus in a community one week in advance of symptoms in individuals.

With advanced laboratory capabilities and expertise in coronavirus research, the University of Arizona Water and Energy Sustainable Technology Center is uniquely situated to conduct wastewater-based epidemiology on the coronavirus.

An internationally recognized cardiac surgeon, Dr. Robbins focused his clinical efforts on acquired cardiac diseases with a special expertise in the surgical treatment of congestive heart failure and cardiothoracic transplantation. Dr. Robbins is the author of more than 300 peer-reviewed articles. Prior to his time at the University of Arizona, Dr. Robbins worked for National Institutes of Health, served as the founding director of the Stanford Cardiovascular Institute and led Texas Medical Center – the largest medical complex in the world.

Pepper is an environmental microbiologist in the UArizona College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, whose research has focused on the fate and transport of pathogens in air, water, soils and municipal wastes.

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Media contacts:
Holly Jensen
University Communications

Pam Scott
University Communications
Office: 520-621-1951 | Cell: 509-570-4610

Rosemary Brandt
College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

The University of Arizona, a land-grant university with two independently accredited medical schools, is one of the nation's top public universities, according to U.S. News & World Report. Established in 1885, the university is widely recognized as a student-centric university and has been designated as a Hispanic Serving Institution by the U.S. Department of Education. The university ranked in the top 20 in 2018 in research expenditures among all public universities, according to the National Science Foundation, and is a leading Research 1 institution with $687 million in annual research expenditures. The university advances the frontiers of interdisciplinary scholarship and entrepreneurial partnerships as a member of the Association of American Universities, the 65 leading public and private research universities in the U.S. It benefits the state with an estimated economic impact of $4.1 billion annually. For the latest on the University of Arizona response to the novel coronavirus, visit the university's COVID-19 webpage.