Evan Thomas
Director, Mortenson Center • Mortenson Endowed Chair in Global Engineering
Civil Environmental and Architectural Engineering

Sustainability, Energy and Environment Community (SEEC)
UCB 608, 4001 Discovery Drive
Boulder, CO 80303

Evan Thomas is the Director of the Mortenson Center in Global Engineering and the Global Engineering Residential Academic Program, and holds the Mortenson Endowed Chair in Global Engineering at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He is a tenured Associate Professor jointly appointed in the Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering and the Aerospace Engineering Sciences Departments, and an affiliate faculty in Environmental and Occupational Health at the Colorado School of Public Health. Evan is currently a member of the NASA and USAID SERVIR Applied Sciences Team, a member of the board of the Millennium Water Alliance, and Co-Chair of the ASME Engineering for Global Development Research Committee. 

Evan has a PhD in Aerospace Engineering Sciences from the University of Colorado at Boulder, is a registered Professional Engineer, and has a Masters in Public Health from the Oregon Health and Science University. 

Evan’s technical background is in water and air testing and treatment applied in developing communities through to operational spacecraft. He founded SweetSense Inc. which is supported by USAID and the National Science Foundation to develop and apply satellite connected sensors monitoring drinking water services. Daily, the team is monitoring millions of people’s water supplies across east Africa.

Evan’s research has been funded by NASA, the National Science Foundation, the World Bank, USAID, the UN Foundation, the CDC, the United Kingdom Department for International Development, the Gates Foundation, and others.

As Chief Operating Officer of DelAgua Health from 2012-2016, Evan conceived, designed and directed a $25 million dollar public health intervention in Rwanda with the Government of Rwanda. The program reached 350,000 households with cookstoves and 102,000 households with water filters, in over 7,500 villages and 1.6 million people. 

Evan was previously an Associate Professor at Portland State University and Oregon Health & Science University from 2010-2018 (asst prof. 2010-2016) founder of the SweetLab, and founding director of GlobalPDX. 

Evan was a civil servant at the NASA-Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas from 2004-2010. At NASA, Evan was a aerospace engineer working on microgravity fluid management technologies and water recovery systems for spacecraft hardware flying on the Space Shuttle and International Space Station.


  • PhD, Aerospace Engineering Sciences (Bioastronautics), University of Colorado at Boulder, 2009
  • MPH, Masters in Public Health, Oregon Health and Science University, 2014
  • MS, Aerospace Engineering Sciences (Bioastronautics), University of Colorado at Boulder, 2006
  • BS, Aerospace Engineering Sciences, University of Colorado at Boulder, 2006
  • BS, Broadcast Journalism (Honors), University of Colorado at Boulder, 2006


PE, Environmental Engineering, license number 106345, State of Texas, 2010

General Aviation – Private Pilot License #3499015


  1. Thomas, E., Sharpe, T., Bedell, E., Alarm Threshold Microbial Fluorimeter and Methods, US Patent Pending US Serial No. 62/843,860.
  2. Wilson, D., Coyle, J., Thomas., E., Machine Learning Techniques for Improved Water Service Delivery, US Patent Pending US Serial No. 62/843,836.
  3. Fleming, M., Spiller, K., Thomas, E., System and Methods for Operating a Microcomputer in Sleep-Mode and Awake-Mode with Low Power Event Processing, United States and International Patent Pending – US 62/101,048.
  4. Thomas, E, Fleming, M., Distributed low-power monitoring system, United States Patent US 9,077,783 B2, Issued July 7, 2015. 
  5. Weislogel, M., Thomas, E., Graf, J., Systems and Methods for Separating a Multiphase Fluid, United States Patent US 7,905,946 B1, issued March 15,2011
  6. Gold, M., Thomas, E., Bring Your Own Water Treatment System United States Patent US 8,002,993 B2, issued August 23, 2011


Thomas, E. (Author), The Global Engineers - Building a Safe and Equitable World Together. Springer, 2020

Thomas, E., (Editor), Innovations in WASH Impact Measures - Water and Sanitation Measurement Technologies and Practices to Inform the Sustainable Development Goals, The World Bank, 2018

  • Thomas, E., Executive Summary
  • Thomas, E., Chapter 5: Sensing WASH: in-situ and remote sensing technologies

Thomas, E., (Editor), Broken Pumps and Promises: Incentivizing Impact in Environmental Health Springer, 2016.

  • Thomas, E., Chapter 1: Introduction
  • Yuthas, K., Thomas, E., Chapter 2: Performance Over Promises
  • Thomas, E., Barstow, C., Clasen T., Chapter 8: Incentivizing Impact: Privately Financed Public Health in Rwanda
  • O’Reilly, K., Louis, E., Thomas, E., Sinah, A., Chapter 13: Combining Sensors and Ethnography to Evaluate Latrine Use in India


Iribagiza, C., Sharpe, T., Wilson D., Thomas, E. "User-centered design of an air quality feedback technology to promote adoption of clean cookstoves." Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology, 1-12. 2020.

Rasheed, R., Thomas, E., Gardner, P., Rogers, T., Verduzco, R., et al. "Omni-Gravity Nanophotonic Heating and Leidenfrost-Driven Water Recovery System." Gravitational and Space Research 8 (1), 31-44. 2020.

Thomas, E., Jordan, E., Linden, K., Mogesse B., Hailu, T., Jirma, H., Thomson, P., et al. "Reducing drought emergencies in the Horn of Africa." Science of The Total Environment, 138772. 2020.

Turman-Bryant, N., Sharpe, T., Nagel, C., Stover, L., Thomas, E. "Toilet Alarms: A Novel Application of Latrine Sensors and Machine Learning for Optimizing Sanitation Services in Informal Settlements." Journal of Development Engineering. 2020.

Bedell, E., Sharpe, T., Purvis, T., Brown, J., Thomas, E.. "Demonstration of Tryptophan-Like Fluorescence Sensor Concepts for Fecal Exposure Detection in Drinking Water in Remote and Resource Constrained Settings."
Sustainability 12 (9), 3768. 2020.

Thomas, E., "Toward a New Field of Global Engineering,Sustainability. 2019, 11, 3789.

Thomas, E., Needoba, J., Kaberia, D., Butterworth, J., Adams, E., Oduor, P., Macharia, D., Mitheu, F., Mugo, R., Nagel, C. "Quantifying increased groundwater demand from prolonged drought in the East African Rift Valley," Science of the Total Environment, v. 666, p 1265-1272. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969719306941?via%.... 2019

Turman-Bryant, N., Nagel, C., Stover, L., Muragijimana, C., Thomas, E., "Improved Drought Resilience Through Continuous Water Service Monitoring and Specialized Institutions—A Longitudinal Analysis of Water Service Delivery Across Motorized Boreholes in Northern Kenya," Sustainability, 11(11), https://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/11/11/3046/htm. 2019

Martinsen, A., Hulland, E., Phillips, R., Darius, J., Felker-Kantor E., Simpson, D., Stephens, M., Thomas, E., Quick, R., Handzel, T., " Alternative Water Transport and Storage Containers: Assessing Sustained Use of the PackH2O in Rural Haiti", American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4269/ajtmh.18-0228. 2019.

Andres, L., Borja-Vega, C., Thomas, E., “Using In-situ and Remote Sensing Technologies to Monitor Water and Sanitation Use and Interventions,” Water, 2018.

Anderson, D., Thomas, E., Clasen, T., ““Quantifying averted disability adjusted life years as a performance indicator for water quality interventions: A review of current methodologies and challenges,” Water, 2018.

Turman-Bryant, N., Fankhauser, K., Clasen, T., Thomas, E., “Measuring Progress Toward Sanitation and Hygiene Targets,” Waterlines, 2018.

Barstow, C., Kirby, M., Clasen, T., Thomas, E., “Health, livelihood, and environmental impacts of the distribution of a carbon-credit-financed, large-scale water filter and improved cookstove programme in Rwanda,” Case Report, Lancet Planetary Health, DOI: 10.1016/S2542-5196(18)30116-5, 2018.

Wilson, D., Coyle, J., Thomas, E., “Ensemble Machine Learning and Forecasting Can Achieve 99% Uptime for Rural Handpumps,” PloS ONE, http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0188808, 2017.

Kirby, M., Nagel, C., Rosa, G., Umupfasoni M., Iyakareyme, L., Thomas, E., Clasen, T., “Use, microbiological effectiveness and health impact of a household water filter intervention in rural Rwanda—A matched cohort study,” International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health, 2017.

Delea, M., Nagel, C., Thomas E., Halder, A., Amin, N., Shoab, A., Freeman, M., Unicomb, L., Clasen, T., “Comparison of respondent-reported and sensor-recorded latrine utilization measures in rural Bangladesh: a cross-sectional study,” Transactions of The Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 2017.

Bedell, E., Leslie, M., Fankhauser, K., Burnett, J., Wing, M., Thomas, E., “Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Based Structure from Motion Biomass Inventory Estimates." Journal of Applied Remote Sensing 11(2), 2017.

Thomas, E., Beyond Broken Pumps and Promises: Rethinking Intent and Impact in Environmental Health, Journal of Energy Research and Social Science, v25 pp 33-36, 2017. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.erss.2016.12.006.

Snoad, C., Nagel, C., Bhattacharya, A., Thomas, E. “The effectiveness of sanitary inspections as a risk assessment tool for faecal contamination of rural drinking water: A review of data from West Bengal India,” American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, doi: 10.4269/ajtmh.16-0322, 2017.

Clasen, T., Zambrano, L., Rosa, G., Kirby, M., Barstow, C., Thomas, E., Nagel, C., “Study design of a cluster-randomized controlled trial to evaluate a large-scale distribution of cook stoves and water filters in Western Province, Rwanda,” Contemporary Clinical Trials, (4) http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.conctc.2016.07.003, 2016.

Barstow, C., Nagel, C., Clasen, T., Thomas, E., “Process Evaluation and Assessment of Use of a Large Scale Water Filter and Cookstove Program in Rwanda,” BMC Public Health BMC Public Health 16:584 DOI 10.1186/s12889-016-3237-0, 2016.

Thomas, E., Tellez-Sanchez, S., Wick, C., Kirby, M., Zambrano, L., Rosa, G., Clasen, T., Nagel, C., "Behavioral Reactivity Associated with Electronic Monitoring of Environmental Health Interventions - A Cluster Randomized Trial with Water Filters and Cookstoves," Environmental Science and Technology, DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.6b00161, 2016.

Bohnert, K., Chard, A., Mwaki, A., Kirby, A., Muga, R., Nagel, C., Thomas, E., Freeman, M., Comparing Sanitation Delivery Modalities in Urban Informal Settlement Schools: A Randomized Trial in Nairobi, Kenya, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 13(12), 1189; doi:10.3390/ijerph13121189, 2016.

Sinha, A., Nagel, C., Thomas, E., Schmidt, W., Torondel, B., Boisson, S., Clasen, T., “Assessing Latrine Use in Rural India: A Cross-Sectional Study Comparing Reported Use and Passive Latrine Use Monitors,” American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 95(3), doi:10.4269/ajtmh.16-0102. 2016.

Nagel, C., Beach, J., Iribagiza, C., Thomas, E., “Evaluating Cellular Instrumentation on Rural Handpumps to Improve Service Delivery – A Longitudinal Cohort Study in Rural Rwanda,” Environmental Science and Technology (49) 24 DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.5b04077, 2015.

Kipf, A., Brunette, W., Kellerstrass, J., Podolsky, M., Rosa, J., Sundt, M., Wilson, D., Borriello, G., Brewer, E., Thomas, E., “A Proposed Integrated Data Collection, Analysis and Sharing Platform for Global Development,” Journal of Development Engineering, doi:10.1016/j.deveng.2015.12.002, 2015.

O’Reilly, K., Louis, E., Thomas, E., Sinha, A., “Combining Remote Monitoring and Ethnography to Estimate Household Latrine Usage in Rural India,” Journal of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Development, (5), 3, doi: 10.2166/washdev.2015.155, 2015.

Barstow, C., Ngabo, F., Rosa, G., Majorin, F., Boisson, S., Clasen, T., Thomas, E., “Designing and Piloting a Large-Scale Project to Provide Water Filters and Improved Cookstoves in Rwanda,” PLoS One, 2014.

Thomas, E., Barstow, C., Rosa, G., Majorin, F., Clasen, T., “Use of Remotely Reporting Electronic Sensors for Assessing Use of Water Filters and Cookstoves in Rwanda,” Environmental Science and Technology, 2013. DOI: 10.1021/es403412x.  

Rosa, G., Majorin, F., Boisson, S., Barstow, C., Johnson, M., Kirby, M., Ngabo, F., Binagwaho, A., Thomas, E., Clasen, T., “Assessing the Impact of Water Filters and Improved Cookstoves on Drinking Water Quality and Household Air Pollution: A Randomised Controlled Trial in Rwanda,” PLoS One, 2014. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0091011

Thomas, E., Mattson, K., Counting Heads. ASME Global Development Review. Fall 2013.

Thomas, E., Zumr, Z., Barstow, C., Fleming, M., Spiller, K., Remotely accessible and reconfigurable in-situ instrumentation to improve monitoring of global development interventions, Sustainability, August 2, 2013. 

Thomas, E., Measuring Sustainability, Solutions Journal, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp. 41-44, 2012

Thomas, E., Weislogel, M., Klaus, D., Design Strategies for Sustainable Spacecraft Fluid Management Systems, Advances in Space Research, 46, p. 761-767, doi: 10.1016/j.asr.2010.04.005, 2010

Thomas, E., Amadei, B., Accounting for Human Behavior, Local Conditions and Organizational Constraints in Humanitarian Development Models, Journal of Environment, Development and Sustainability, DOI 10.107/s10668-009-9196-1,V, 12(3), p. 313-327, 2010

Thomas, E., Klaus, D., Developing Sustainable Spacecraft Water Management Systems, 2009-2010 Decadal Survey on Biological and Physical Sciences in Space, National Research Council of The National Academies, 2009

Amadei, B., Sandekian, R., Thomas, E., A Model for Sustainable Humanitarian Engineering Projects, Sustainability, 1(4), 1087-1105; doi:10.3390/su1041087, 2009

Thomas, E., Poritz, D., Muirhead, D., Urine Advancing Contact Angle on Several Surfaces, Journal of Adhesion Science and Technology, 2009. V. 23 p. 1917-1923.

Thomas, E., Muirhead, D., Impact of Wastewater Fouling on Contact Angle, Journal of Biofouling, V. 25. N. 5. Pp. 445-454, 2009

Weislogel, M., Thomas, E., Graf, J., A Novel Device Addressing Design Challenges for Passive Fluid Phase Separations Aboard Spacecraft Microgravity Science and Technology, 2009. 21(3) p. 257-268.

Gold, M., Thomas, E., Byyny, R., Habanabakize, J., Development and Implementation of the Bring Your Own Water Treatment System in Dense, Rural, and Mountainous Rwandan Communities, Journal of Engineering for Sustainable Development, V2.N1, 2007