Andrea Silverman

Assistant Professor

Andrea Silverman

Andrea Silverman is an Assistant Professor, with joint appointments in the Department of Civil and Urban Engineering at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering, and the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at the NYU College of Global Public Health. 

The overarching goal of Dr. Silverman’s work is to develop sustainable and appropriate wastewater treatment systems, in an effort to protect public and environmental health. Within the broad topics of water quality and wastewater treatment, she focuses on the detection and control of waterborne pathogens, the design of natural wastewater treatment systems (e.g., treatment ponds and constructed wetlands), and the safe reuse of human waste.

Dr. Silverman works in both high- and low-income settings, and has conducted field research in California, USA; Accra, Ghana; and Nairobi, Kenya.

Research Interests: Detection and control of waterborne pathogens, wastewater and fecal
sludge treatment for reuse, natural disinfection mechanisms, waste
stabilization ponds and constructed wetlands, wastewater use in
agriculture, on-site sanitation systems in cities

Massachusetts Institute of Technology 2005
Bachelor of Science, Environmental Engineering

University of California, Berkeley 2009
Master of Science, Environmental Engineering

University of California, Berkeley 2013
PhD, Environmental Engineering

Journal Articles


Andrea I. Silverman and Kara L. Nelson. 2016. Modeling the endogenous sunlight inactivation rates of laboratory strain and wastewater E. coli and enterococci using biological weighting functions. Environmental Science & Technology, 50, 12292−12301.


Andrea I. Silverman, Mi T. Nguyen, Iris E. Schilling, Jannis Wenk, and Kara L. Nelson. 2015. Sunlight inactivation of viruses in open-water unit process treatment wetlands: Modeling endogenous and exogenous inactivation rates. Environmental Science & Technology, 49: 2757- 2766.

Andrea I. Silverman, Mark O. Akrong, Pay Drechsel, and Kara L. Nelson. 2014. On-farm treatment of wastewater used for vegetable irrigation: Bacteria and virus removal in small ponds in Accra, Ghana. Journal of Water Reuse and Desalination, 4: 276-286.

Mi T. Nguyen, Andrea I. Silverman, and Kara L. Nelson. 2014. Sunlight inactivation of MS2 coliphage in the absence of photosensitizers: Modeling the endogenous inactivation rate using a photoaction spectrum. Environmental Science & Technology, 48: 3891-3898.

Andrea I. Silverman, Britt M. Peterson, Alexandria B. Boehm, Kristopher McNeill, and Kara L. Nelson. 2013. Sunlight inactivation of human viruses and bacteriophages in coastal waters containing natural photosensitizers. Environmental Science & Technology, 47: 1870–1878.

Andrea I. Silverman, Mark O. Akrong, Philip Amoah, Pay Drechsel, and Kara L. Nelson. 2013. Quantification of human norovirus GII, human adenovirus, and fecal indicator organisms in wastewater used for irrigation in Accra, Ghana. Journal of Water and Health, 11: 473-488.

Lauren M. Sassoubre, Dave C. Love, Andrea I. Silverman, Kara L. Nelson, and Alexandria B. Boehm. 2012. Comparison of enterovirus and adenovirus concentration and enumeration methods in seawater from Southern California, USA and Baja Malibu, Mexico. Journal of Water and Health, 10: 419-430.

Dave C. Love, Andrea I. Silverman, and Kara L. Nelson. 2010. Human virus and bacteriophage inactivation in clear water by simulated sunlight compared to bacteriophage inactivation at a Southern California beach. Environmental Science & Technology, 44:6965-6970.


Authored/Edited Books



Bernard Keraita, Andrea I. Silverman, Philip Amoah, and Senorpe Asem-Hiablie. 2014. Quality of Irrigation Water Used for Urban Vegetable Production. In: Irrigated Urban Vegetable Production in Ghana: Characteristics, Benefits and Risk Mitigation, 2nd Ed. P. Drechsel and B. Keraita, Eds. pp. 62-73. Link.


Sunlight Disinfection of Waterborne Viruses and Bacteria

Natural wastewater treatment systems, including wastewater treatment ponds and constructed wetlands, are used globally for treatment of domestic sewage and polishing of wastewater treatment plant effluent. In removing and transforming nutrients, chemical contaminants and waterborne pathogens, these systems play an important role in protecting public and environmental health. Sunlight disinfection is the dominant mode of inactivation of viruses and bacteria in these systems, and has additional important and far-reaching applications, including microbial ecology of sunlit surface waters, recreational water quality, and the fate of microbial fecal markers in the environment. The goals of this work are to determine the mechanisms and rates of inactivation of human viruses, bacteriophages, and bacteria in natural waters and wastewater, and develop new modeling approaches to predict sunlight inactivation rates. Improved inactivation rate models can be used as tools for optimizing the design of natural wastewater treatment systems to promote disinfection and meet health-related treatment objectives.

(Image: Sunlight disinfection mechanisms of waterborne viruses.)


Design Guidelines for Shallow, Open-water Wetlands

Shallow, open-water wetlands are treatment wetlands designed to promote photo-mediated and biological water treatment processes. These processes include photolysis and biotransformation of chemical contaminants, photoinactivation of waterborne pathogens, and biological removal of nitrate (e.g., denitrification). Open-water wetlands outperform vegetated wetlands with respect to removal of nitrate, microbial contaminants, and trace organic compounds. Given their improved treatment efficiency, open-water wetlands are attractive options for the polishing of municipal wastewater effluent, treatment of water in effluent-dominated waterways, or use as the final stage of wastewater treatment pond systems that receive municipal wastewater. The Open-water Wetland Guidelines are targeted towards those that design, build, and operate natural treatment systems, and present recommendations and equations for the design and operation of these systems.  

(Image: Shallow, open-water wetland cells at the Prado Wetlands in Orange County, CA. Image credit: Scott Nygren)