Evan Thomas Closeup
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 & Resilience, the Global Engineering Residential Academic Program, and the CU Boulder Climate Innovation Collaboratory, and holds the Mortenson Endowed Chair in Global Engineering at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He is a tenured full 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 Boulder, a Masters in Public Health from the Oregon Health and Science University, a MBA in Global Business from the Fletcher School at Tufts University, and is a registered Professional Environmental Engineer.

Evan’s technical background is in water and air testing and treatment applied in a range of contexts, from low-resource settings 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 is also the founder and CEO of Virridy a venture-backed company that uses proprietary technology and water and carbon markets expertise to restore watersheds and improve water quality, catalyzed by generating and selling high quality carbon credits. His management team at Virridy led the development and implementation of the first-ever United Nations Clean Development Mechanism and Gold Standard programs earning carbon credits for water treatment, resulting in improved water services for over seven million people in Rwanda, Kenya and Ethiopia.

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
  • MBA, Global Masters of Business Administration, Fletcher School at Tufts University, 2022
  • 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


Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors (ASEEP) - 2023 Steven K. Dentel Award for Global Outreach

This award is given annually to recognize outstanding contributions and leadership by a faculty member through involvement in environmental engineering and science outreach activities to the global community. Outreach activities that advance the health and well-being of the global community through environmental education, research, entrepreneurship, international collaborations, program development, contributions to trans-national environmental efforts, mentoring students engaged in global outreach activities, or similar impacts, will be considered.

Research Development Award, Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering, 2022

Million Lives Club - Vanguard, 2020 

The Million Lives Club celebrates innovators and social entrepreneurs who are reaching new horizons of impact and improving the lives of those living on less than $5 a day. MLC Vanguard celebrates those who have directly impacted 1,000,000+ clients with their innovations.

Mortenson Endowed Chair of Global Engineering

Director and Endowed Chair of the Mortenson Center in Global Engineering and Resilience and the Climate Innovation Collaboratory at the University of Colorado Boulder. 

Bellagio Center Practitioner Residency, Rockefeller Foundation, 2015

The Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Residency Program offers academics, artists, thought leaders, policymakers, and practitioners a serene setting conducive to focused, goal-oriented work, and the unparalleled opportunity to establish new connections with fellow residents from a wide array of backgrounds, disciplines, and geographies. The Foundation’s Bellagio Residency Program has a track record for supporting the generation of important new knowledge addressing some of the most complex issues facing our world, and innovative new works of art that inspire reflection and understanding of global and social issues.

Kalpana Chawla Outstanding Alumni Award, 2015

This award has been presented since 1982 to recognize outstanding career achievement, as well as significant contributions to the community and/or the University, within fifteen years of graduation from CU. Following her February 1, 2003, death aboard the space shuttle Columbia, it was renamed to honor Kalpana Chawla (MAero’86, PhD’88) and her impressive career as a scientist and astronaut.

Outstanding Recent Alumni Award, 2015

Established in 2013, the CU Engineering Recent Alumni Award recognizes outstanding recent alumni for professional achievements, continued service to the college and/or university, and outstanding personal characteristics within 10 years of graduation from the College of Engineering and Applied Science. The award is given to one deserving recipient each year, who is recognized alongside the college's Distinguished Engineering Alumni Award winners at the Engineering Awards Banquet.

NASA Johnson Space Center Fellowship. 2008-2009

Awarded as a civil servant at NASA to complete doctoral research while employed in the Life Support and Habitability Systems Branch. NASA’s Johnson Space Center has served as a hub of human spaceflight activity for more than half a century. It is home to the nation’s astronaut corps, the International Space Station mission operations, the Orion Program, and a host of future space developments.

NASA JSC Engineering Achievement Medal, 2007

Awarded by Director of Engineering, NASA Johnson Space Center.


  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

Recent Publications

  • Demaree, K.; Holland, M.; Kremen , A.; Thomas, E. Emerging Technologies Improving Water Resource Management in Colorado; Mortenson Center in Global Engineering, University of Colorado Boulder, 2022. https://www.colorado.edu/center/mortenson/sites/default/files/attached-files/etiwrmc_final_web.pdf 

  • Libey, A.; Chintalapati, P.; Kathuni, S.; Amadei, B.; Thomas, E. Turn up the Dial: System Dynamics Modeling of Resource Allocations toward Rural Water Supply Maintenance in East Africa. J. Environ. Eng. 2022, 148 (4), 04022006. https://doi.org/10.1061/(ASCE)EE.1943-7870.0001982.

  • Fankhauser, K.; Macharia, D.; Coyle, J.; Kathuni, S.; McNally, A.; Slinski, K.; Thomas, E. Estimating Groundwater Use and Demand in Arid Kenya through Assimilation of Satellite Data and In-Situ Sensors with Machine Learning toward Drought Early Action. Science of The Total Environment 2022, 831, 154453. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.154453.

  • MacDonald, L.; Thomas, E.; Javernick-Will, A.; Austin-Breneman, J.; Aranda, I.; Salvinelli, C.; Klees, R.; Walters, J.; Parmentier, M. J.; Schaad, D.; Shahi, A.; Bedell, E.; Platais, G.; Brown, J.; Gershenson, J.; Watkins, D.; Obonyo, E.; Oyanedel-Craver, V.; Olson, M.; Lau, R.; Rao, G.; Arzon, A.; Krishnaswamy, K.; Pickering, A. J.; Mabey, C.; Johnson, A.; Gehr, R.; Linden, K. Aligning Learning Objectives and Approaches in Global Engineering Graduate Programs: Review and Recommendations by an Interdisciplinary Working Group. Development Engineering 2022, 7, 100095. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.deveng.2022.100095.

  • Thomas, E.; Wilson, D.; Kathuni, S.; Libey, A.; Chintalapati, P.; Coyle, J. A Contribution to Drought Resilience in East Africa through Groundwater Pump Monitoring Informed by In-Situ Instrumentation, Remote Sensing and Ensemble Machine Learning. Science of The Total Environment 2021, 780, 146486. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.146486.

  • Thomas, E.; Bradshaw, A.; Mugabo, L.; MacDonald, L.; Brooks, W.; Dickinson, K.; Donovan, K. Engineering Environmental Resilience: A Matched Cohort Study of the Community Benefits of Trailbridges in Rural Rwanda. Science of The Total Environment 2021, 771, 145275. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.145275.

  • Thomas, E.; Salvinelli, C.; Harper, J.; MacDonald, L.; Klees, R.; Platais, G.; Javernick-Will, A.; Linden, K. A Body of Knowledge and Pedagogy for Global Engineering. IJSLE 2021, 16 (1), 37–57. https://doi.org/10.24908/ijsle.v16i1.14483.

  • Iribagiza, C.; Sharpe, T.; Coyle, J.; Nkubito, P.; Piedrahita, R.; Johnson, M.; Thomas, E. A. Evaluating the Effects of Access to Air Quality Data on Household Air Pollution and Exposure—An Interrupted Time Series Experimental Study in Rwanda. Sustainability 2021, 13 (20), 11523. https://doi.org/10.3390/su132011523

  • Bradshaw, A.; Mugabo, L.; Gebremariam, A.; Thomas, E.; MacDonald, L. Integration of Household Water Filters with Community-Based Sanitation and Hygiene Promotion—A Process Evaluation and Assessment of Use among Households in Rwanda. Sustainability 2021, 13 (4), 1615. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13041615.

  • Thomas, E.; Brown, J. Using Feedback to Improve Accountability in Global Environmental Health and Engineering. Environ. Sci. Technol. 2021, 55 (1), 90–99. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.0c04115.

  • Iribagiza, C.; Sharpe, T.; Wilson, D.; Thomas, E. A. User-Centered Design of an Air Quality Feedback Technology to Promote Adoption of Clean Cookstoves. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol 2020, 30 (6), 925–936. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41370-020-0250-2.

  • Thomas, E.; Gerster, S.; Mugabo, L.; Jean, H.; Oates, T. Computer Vision Supported Pedestrian Tracking: A Demonstration on Trail Bridges in Rural Rwanda. PLoS ONE 2020, 15 (10), e0241379. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0241379.

  • Goddard, F. G. B.; Ban, R.; Barr, D. B.; Brown, J.; Cannon, J.; Colford, J. M.; Eisenberg, J. N. S.; Ercumen, A.; Petach, H.; Freeman, M. C.; Levy, K.; Luby, S. P.; Moe, C.; Pickering, A. J.; Sarnat, J. A.; Stewart, J.; Thomas, E.; Taniuchi, M.; Clasen, T. Measuring Environmental Exposure to Enteric Pathogens in Low-Income Settings: Review and Recommendations of an Interdisciplinary Working Group. Environ. Sci. Technol. 2020, 54 (19), 11673–11691. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.0c02421

  • Thomas, E.; Jordan, E.; Linden, K.; Mogesse, B.; Hailu, T.; Jirma, H.; Thomson, P.; Koehler, J.; Collins, G. Reducing Drought Emergencies in the Horn of Africa. Science of The Total Environment 2020, 727, 138772. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.138772.

  • Rasheed, R. M.; Thomas, E. A.; Gardner, P.; Rogers, T.; Verduzco, R.; Weislogel, M. M. Omni-Gravity Nanophotonic Heating and Leidenfrost-Driven Water Recovery System. Gravitational and Space Research 2020, 8 (1), 31–44. https://doi.org/10.2478/gsr-2020-0004.

  • Turman-Bryant, N.; Sharpe, T.; Nagel, C.; Stover, L.; Thomas, E. A. Toilet Alarms: A Novel Application of Latrine Sensors and Machine Learning for Optimizing Sanitation Services in Informal Settlements. Development Engineering 2020, 5, 100052. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.deveng.2020.100052.

  • Junglen, K.; Rhodes-Dicker, L.; Ward, B. J.; Gitau, E.; Mwalugongo, W.; Stradley, L.; Thomas, E. Characterization and Prediction of Fecal Sludge Parameters and Settling Behavior in Informal Settlements in Nairobi, Kenya. Sustainability 2020, 12 (21), 9040. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12219040.

  • Thomas, E. A.; Kathuni, S.; Wilson, D.; Muragijimana, C.; Sharpe, T.; Kaberia, D.; Macharia, D.; Kebede, A.; Birhane, P. The Drought Resilience Impact Platform (DRIP): Improving Water Security Through Actionable Water Management Insights. Front. Clim. 2020, 2, 6. https://doi.org/10.3389/fclim.2020.00006.

  • Libey, A.; Adank, M.; Thomas, E. Who Pays for Water? Comparing Life Cycle Costs of Water Services among Several Low, Medium and High-Income Utilities. World Development 2020, 136, 105155. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.worlddev.2020.105155.

  • Hollander, D.; Ajroud, B.; Thomas, E.; Peabody, S.; Jordan, E.; Javernick-Will, A.; Linden, K. Monitoring Methods for Systems-Strengthening Activities Toward Sustainable Water and Sanitation Services in Low-Income Settings. Sustainability 2020, 12 (17), 7044. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12177044.

  • 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 2020, 12 (9), 3768. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12093768.