Author Picture

Luke MacDonald

GWP Steering Committee
JHU Faculty
NSF IGERT Participant
Contributing Magazine Author
Assistant Director
Research Scientist

Academic Degrees:

Environmental Health Sciences, Division of Environmental Health Engineering

Bloomberg School of Public Health

615 N. Wolfe Street, E6636
Baltimore, MD 21218

Phone: +1 410 614-5750
Fax: +1 410 955-9334

Research and Professional Interests

Dr. MacDonald is the Assistant Director of the JHU Global Water Program.  He received his PhD in 2010 from Princeton University in Civil and Environmental Engineering, where his research focused biogeochemical controls of contaminant transport, rural defluoridation strategies for India, and global water policy. Dr. MacDonald joined the Global Water Program, a multidisciplinary research enterprise, out of a belief that water lies at the intersection of engineering, science, policy, and public health, and that we cannot solve problems in one area without addressing the others.    

Biogeochemistry describes the interactions between living organisms, minerals, and dissolved chemicals in the environment, and Dr. MacDonald has experience studying the role of iron oxides in controlling the behavior of arsenic. This work includes the study of fundamental kinetics of bacterially-driven iron reduction, the influence of flooding cycles and iron oxides on arsenic retention in contaminated, planted mesocosm experiments, and field validation of redox controls on arsenic mobility in an industrially contaminated wetland.   In many places throughout the world, such environmental transport mechanisms of arsenic links to drinking water supply contamination in groundwater, posing a public health hazard to millions of people. To address the health of the environment, therefore, is to address our own health.  

Like the arsenic problem, drinking groundwater sources with naturally high levels of fluoride can cause debilitating skeletal and dental fluorosis throughout the world. Fluoride problems in many parts of India are severe, and Dr. MacDonald has worked to develop a prototype filtration technology with the potential to lead to an effective, sustainable treatment strategy to halt the fluorosis endemic in rural villages.   

Alongside collaborators at Princeton, George Washington, and the Emerging Pathogens Institute at the University of Florida, Dr. MacDonald is currently working on a paper that proposes mechanisms for improving access to water and sanitation throughout the world through global treaties and loan agreements.  

 Dr. MacDonald has received numerous fellowships and honors, including the EPA STAR Graduate Fellowship, Upton Fellowship the School of Engineering and Applied Science at Princeton University, the National Waters Research Institute Fellowship, the New Jersey Water Resources Research Institute Fellowship, and the Princeton Environmental Institute Fellowship in Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy.  He was the co-author of an ENVIRON Foundation grant for fluoride mitigation and has participated in the Microbial Diversity Course in the Marine Biology Lab at Woods Hole, MA.  

Dr. MacDonald organized a high level conference at the Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Center on Accelerating sustainable, people-centered integrated water services for the poor, from August 29 through September 1, 2011.

Luke MacDonald's Resume

GWP Projects

GWP Magazine Articles

GWP Themes

  • Water & Health
  • Water in the Environment
  • Water Infrastructure
  • Water Policy

Areas of Collaboration

  • Aquatic Biology
  • Community based approaches
  • Economics and markets
  • Ecosystem analysis
  • Emerging contaminants
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Health impact assessments
  • Health surveillance systems
  • Infrastructure technology and management
  • Monitoring, sensors, and sensor networks
  • National strategies
  • Natural Hazards
  • Policy development
  • Public health emergency preparedness and response
  • Virology, Microbiology, and Parasitology
  • Water quality management (surface & ground water)
  • Water quantity management
  • Water resources management
  • Water treatment technology
  • Watershed Hydrology


Water purification, Integrated approach, Fluoride, Arsenic, Global governance, Environmental chemistry, Redox reactions

Regional Experience

South Asia: India; West Africa: Ghana; North America:USA (New Jersey)

Selected Publications

  • MacDonald, L., G. Pathak, B. Singer, and P. R. Jaffé (2010) An integrated approach to address endemic fluorosis in Jharkhand, India, In Review.
  • MacDonald,L. H.S. Moon, and P. R. Jaffé (2010). The role of biomass, electron shuttles, and ferrous iron in the kinetics of Geobacter sulfurreducens-mediated ferrihydrite reduction, In Review.
  • MacDonald, L. (2008) Phosphate and arsenic sequestration on iron oxides: The influence of iron reducing bacteria on phosphate and arsenic detention and release rates. National Water Resources Research Institute. 2nd annual Fellowship Conference Proceedings. Washington, DC.
  • MacDonald, L., B. H. Singer, M. Oppenheimer, and P. R. Jaffé (2008). Putting some teeth into the International Health Regulations. Safe and Sustainable Drinking Water in Developing and Developed Countries: Where Science Meets Policy. UNC-Chapel Hill