Zach Lowenstein graduated with his Master of Public Health (MPH) degree from the Department of Environmental and Global Health in 2013. He enrolled in the program with an interest in environmental protection. As a student, he volunteered with the Alachua County Health Department shadowing an Environmental Health Specialist. From this experience, Zach says, “I knew I wanted to focus on environmental issues at a higher level.”
While most students in the MPH Environmental Health program were focused on research and disease, Zach pursued an internship at the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) Headquarters in Washington, DC. While interning with the Office of Environmental Justice, he learned about the environmental issues facing lower income populations. He completed his program with a master’s thesis on the importance of environmental indicators in regards to environmental justice communities.
After graduation from the MPH program, Zach returned to South Florida, where he grew up, to work at a small environmental consulting company. He later took a position at the South Florida Water Management District as a Water Use Compliance Analyst. Zach dreamt of returning to the US EPA, where he had previously interned, as a federal employee, and now he has with a position with the Office of Wastewater Management. He works on decentralized (septic system) wastewater issues, on a national scale.
While the US EPA does not regulate household septic systems, the agency does organize an annual “SepticSmart Week” campaign geared towards educating homeowners on caring for their systems. From a public health standpoint, Lowenstein says this work is very important. Improperly maintained or failing septic systems can contaminate drinking water sources, and increases the possibility that humans can be exposed to raw sewage, which can cause health issues such as diarrhea, vomiting, and other serious conditions. The team also works closely with 18 other public and private organizations to bring awareness to decentralized wastewater treatment.
Congratulations to our alumnus Zach Lowenstein on achieving his goals! Learn more about what you can gain from an MPH in Environmental Health, and the rest of our degree programs here.