hero image
Joan B. Rose - Michigan State University. East Lansing, MI, US

Joan B. Rose Joan B. Rose

Homer Nowlin Chair in Water Research, Dept of Fisheries and Wildlife | Michigan State University


Expert in water microbiology, water quality and public health safety






2016  Stockholm Water Prize Laureate 2014 Water Microbiology Conference - Keynote Address - Dr. Joan B. Rose Quality of life | Joan B Rose, 2016 Stockholm Water Prize Laureate



Every drop of water matters to Dr. Joan Rose and her research team who she calls “water detectives.” Joan is an international authority on water microbiology, water quality, and public health safety, and she co-directs both MSU’s Center for Advancing Microbial Risk Assessment (CAMRA) and its Center for Water Sciences (CWS).

Joan, together with her water detectives, are developing new genetic analytics to study waterborne health threats. Water quality studies today tend to focus on the indicators of pathogens, but Joan’s work targets actual threat agents such as viruses, mapping water quality and health risks in waterways throughout the world.

Joan is a pioneer in the emerging science of viral metagenomics – sequencing virus DNA in water sources, discharges and shipping ballast using next-generation high-throughput technology. Such technology promises to significantly improve methods protect water and food supplies, and Joan now is applying it to assess the safety of fresh produce.

Her global activity includes investigation of waterborne disease outbreaks and the study of water supplies, treatment, and reclamation. Her applied research interests include study of microbial pathogens in recreational waters and climatic factors impacting water quality.

Industry Expertise (4)

Environmental Services Research Writing and Editing Education/Learning

Areas of Expertise (9)

Quantitative Microbial Risk Assessment Public Health Water Microbiology Environmental Virology Environmental Parasitology Drinking Water Treatment and Disinfection Wastewater Treatment and Reuse Water Pollution Microbiology Mycology Food Microbiology

Accomplishments (1)

Appointed to the National Research Council (professional)


Appointed by the National Academies Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology

Education (3)

University of Arizona: Ph.D., Microbiology 1985

University of Wyoming: M.S., Microbiology 1980

University of Arizona: B.S., Microbiology 1976

Affiliations (2)

  • International Water Association: Fellow
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Great Lakes Advisory Board

News (2)

MSU Global Water Scientist Awarded World's Top Water Prize

MSU Today  online


Michigan State University professor Joan Rose is the 2016 recipient of the Stockholm Water Prize, announced Tuesday at the United Nation’s World Water Day celebration in Geneva. The Stockholm Water Prize is the world’s most-prestigious water award.

view more

MSU Professor Named Honorary Citizen of Singapore

MSU Today  online


Michigan State University researcher Joan Rose has been named an honorary citizen of Singapore for her significant contributions in developing a safe and sustainable water system in the island nation...

view more

Journal Articles (5)

Postharvest reduction of coliphage MS2 from romaine lettuce during simulated commercial processing with and without a chlorine-based sanitizer. Journal of Food Protection


Viral foodborne outbreaks are a serious threat to public health, and fresh produce is becoming increasingly recognized as a transmission vehicle. To limit foodborne disease, ready-to-eat leafy greens are typically washed with a chlorine-based sanitizer during commercial production. This study assessed the efficacy of a chlorine-based sanitizer against coliphage MS2, as a potential surrogate for foodborne viruses, on fresh-cut romaine lettuce during simulated commercial production using a small-scale processing line. Before processing, romaine lettuce was inoculated to contain approximately 105 and 106 PFU/g of MS2 for experiments with and without sanitizer, respectively. Lettuce samples were collected following each stage of processing, which included mechanical shredding, 2 min of flume washing (with or without 25 ppm of free chlorine), shaker table dewatering, and centrifugal drying. In addition, the spent centrifuge water and flume wash water were collected, with the flume water concentrated using hollow-fiber ultrafiltration. MS2 was recovered from lettuce in Tris-glycine buffer and quantified as PFUs in a double-agar overlay assay. The greatest reduction in MS2 occurred between shredding and flume washing, with levels remaining relatively stable following flume washing with or without 25 ppm of free chlorine. Average total reductions of 0.8 and 1.0 log PFU/g were seen after processing with and without the sanitizer, respectively, with no statistical difference observed between the two treatments (P > 0.05). The average MS2 level in the spent centrifugation water started at 4.0 log PFU/ml for experiments with sanitizer and the average MS2 reduction in the flume wash water was 4 log (PFU) for experiments with sanitizer, demonstrating that removals could be achieved in the water itself. These findings suggest that the currently recommended commercial production practices are unable to effectively decrease viruses once they have attached to leafy greens during commercial processing.

view more

Persistence analysis of poliovirus on three different types of fomites Journal of Applied Microbiology


The goal of this study was to explore various models for describing viral persistence (infectivity) on fomites and identify the best fit models.

view more

Antibacterial and antiviral effectiveness of two household water treatment devices that use monobrominated hydantoinylated polystyrene Journal of Water and Health


Many different household water treatment (HWT) methods have been researched and promoted to mitigate the serious burden of diarrheal disease in developing countries. However, HWT methods using bromine have not been extensively evaluated. Two gravity-fed HWT devices (AquaSure™ and Waterbird™) were used to test the antimicrobial effectiveness of HaloPure® Br beads (monobrominated hydantoinylated polystyrene) that deliver bromine. As water flows over the beads, reactive bromine species are eluted, which inactivate microorganisms. To assess log10 reduction values (LRVs) for Vibrio cholerae, Salmonella enterica Typhimurium, bacteriophage MS2, human adenovirus 2 (HAdV2), and murine norovirus (MN), these organisms were added to potable water and sewage-contaminated water. These organisms were quantified before and after water treatment by the HWT devices. On average, 6 LRVs against Vibrio were attained, as well as 5 LRVs against Salmonella, 4 LRVs against MS2, 5 LRVs against HAdV2, and 3 LRVs against MN. Disinfection was similar regardless of whether sewage was present. Polymer beads delivering bromine to drinking water are a potentially effective and useful component of HWT methods in developing countries.

view more

Sanitation and disease—updates are overdue The Lancet Infectious Diseases


Nations around the globe are now moving from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to the Sustainable Development Goals.1 Although the MDG for access to improved drinking water sources has been met, progress towards achieving adequate sanitation has been dismal. In developing regions of the world, on average 85% of the discharged sewage is untreated.2 Recently, the first global map of viral pathogen-laden sewage discharges to surface waters was produced.3 Total global emissions for rotavirus (a cause of childhood diarrhoea) was estimated at 2 × 1018 viral particles per year, of which 87% is produced by the urban population.

view more

Rating impacts in a multi‐stressor world: a quantitative assessment of 50 stressors affecting the Great Lakes Ecological Applications


Ecosystems often experience multiple environmental stressors simultaneously that can differ widely in their pathways and strengths of impact. Differences in the relative impact of environmental stressors can guide restoration and management prioritization, but few studies have empirically assessed a comprehensive suite of stressors acting on a given ecosystem. To fill this gap in the Laurentian Great Lakes, where considerable restoration investments are currently underway, we used expert elicitation via a detailed online survey to develop ratings of the relative impacts of 50 potential stressors. Highlighting the multiplicity of stressors in this system, experts assessed all 50 stressors as having some impact on ecosystem condition, but ratings differed greatly among stressors. Individual stressors related to invasive and nuisance species (e.g., dreissenid mussels and ballast invasion risk) and climate change were assessed as having the greatest potential impacts. These results mark a shift away from the longstanding emphasis on nonpoint phosphorus and persistent bioaccumulative toxic substances in the Great Lakes. Differences in impact ratings among lakes and ecosystem zones were weak, and experts exhibited surprisingly high levels of agreement on the relative impacts of most stressors. Our results provide a basin-wide, quantitative summary of expert opinion on the present-day influence of all major Great Lakes stressors. The resulting ratings can facilitate prioritizing stressors to achieve management objectives in a given location, as well as providing a baseline for future stressor impact assessments in the Great Lakes and elsewhere.

view more