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Caitlyn Butler - University of Massachusetts Amherst. Amherst, MA, US

Caitlyn Butler

Associate Professor of Civil and Industrial Engineering | University of Massachusetts Amherst


Caitlyn Butler’s research focuses on developing energy-efficient treatment strategies for both water and wastewater treatment.

Expertise (4)

Wastewater Surveillance

Microbial Fuel Cell Latrine

Biofilm Systems

Wastewater Treatment


Caitlyn Butler’s research focuses on developing energy-efficient treatment strategies for both water and wastewater treatment through the study of biofilm systems. She is interested in developing scalable process designs that could be easily integrated into existing treatment infrastructure and the ecology and function of the microorganisms that facilitate treatment.

Social Media

Education (2)

University of Notre Dame: Ph.D., Environmental Engineering

Smith College: B.S., Engineering Science

Select Publications (5)

Passive sampling to scale wastewater surveillance of infectious disease: Lessons learned from COVID-19

Science of The Total Environment


Much of what is known and theorized concerning passive sampling techniques has been developed considering chemical analytes. Yet, historically, biological analytes, such as Salmonella typhi, have been collected from wastewater via passive sampling with Moore swabs. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, passive sampling is re-emerging as a promising technique to monitor SARS-CoV-2 RNA in wastewater.

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Quantifying the relationship between SARS-CoV-2 wastewater concentrations and building-level COVID-19 prevalence at an isolation residence using a passive sampling approach



SARS-CoV-2 RNA loads can be detected in the excreta of individuals with COVID-19 and have demonstrated positive correlations with clinical infection trends. Consequently, wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) approaches have been implemented globally as a public health surveillance tool to monitor community-level prevalence of infections. The majority of wastewater specimens are gathered as either composite samples via automatic samplers (autosamplers) or grab samples. However, autosamplers are expensive and can be challenging to maintain in cold weather, while grab samples are particularly susceptible to temporal variation when sampling sewage directly from complex matrices outside residential buildings.

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Wastewater surveillance for SARS-CoV-2 on college campuses: initial efforts, lessons learned, and research needs

International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health


Wastewater surveillance for the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is an emerging approach to help identify the risk of a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak. This tool can contribute to public health surveillance at both community (wastewater treatment system) and institutional (e.g., colleges, prisons, and nursing homes) scales. This paper explores the successes, challenges, and lessons learned from initial wastewater surveillance efforts at colleges and university systems to inform future research, development and implementation. We present the experiences of 25 college and university systems in the United States that monitored campus wastewater for SARS-CoV-2 during the fall 2020 academic period.

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Heterogeneous diffusion of polystyrene nanoparticles through an alginate matrix: the role of cross-linking and particle size

Environmental Science & Technology


Most bacteria in natural and engineered environments grow and exist in biofilms. Recent investigations have shown that nanoparticles (NPs) interact with environmental biofilms, but these interactions are still not well characterized. Extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) are polymers secreted by bacteria to establish the functional and structural integrity of biofilms, and EPS porosity is a major contributor to NP access to and diffusion in biofilms.

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Role of Hydrodynamic Shear in the Oxygenic Photogranule (OPG) Wastewater Treatment Process

ACS ES&T Water


The role of hydrodynamic shear in the oxygenic photogranule (OPG) wastewater treatment process was investigated in three sequencing batch reactors (SBRs) operated under different shear conditions for 250 days.

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