By: Mira Garin
We are excited to welcome environmental engineer Dr. Devrim Kaya to SPH faculty as an assistant professor in the Division of Environmental Health Sciences at the Imperial Valley campus!
Dr. Kaya’s initial interest in engineering stemmed from her experiences growing up in a farming community in Turkey. “My grandparents didn’t have running water in their homes,” Dr. Kaya recalled, “and the task of fetching water from fountains or washing clothes at the creek was routine.” Carrying the lesson that water is life with her throughout her schooling in Turkey, Dr. Kaya began to identify ways she could interweave her interest in water systems with engineering, determined to leverage her technical expertise for practical solutions.
While settling into life in Imperial Valley, Dr. Kaya’s typical days largely consist of working through the influx of new faculty training sessions, following through on existing projects by writing manuscripts, completing the 9-month intensive NIH Aim-Ahead fellowship in Leadership, and laying the foundations for new project proposals with SDSU colleagues and worldwide collaborators. One of her proposals focuses on the second phase of the Predictive Intelligence for Pandemic Prevention (PIPP) while the other aims to better understand biodiversity, watershed, and community resiliency in a mining town subjected to dynamic stressors. However, her dream project would align all of her core interests of infectious disease and water quality management through a One Health lens, Dr. Kaya explained. “[It] would delve deep into environmental genomics and proteomics technologies, exploring novel microorganisms and metabolic functions.”
“The Imperial Valley is notably different from the places I’ve lived in the past, like Tennessee, Maryland, and Oregon,” Dr. Kaya reflected, emphasizing the Valley’s community-oriented values. “Interestingly, my appearance often gets mistaken for Hispanic, which has been both amusing and endearing,” she explained. “[It] has been a heartwarming experience.”