Dr Jacqueline Thomas

BA 2007 BSc(Hons) 2007 PhD 2012 (UNSW)
Lecturer in Humanitarian Engineering
School of Civil Engineering

J05 - J05 Civil Engineering Building
The University of Sydney

Telephone +61 2 9351 2120
Fax +61 2 9351 3343

Website School of Civil Engineering

Immersive Learning Laboratory

Biographical details

Dr Jacqueline Thomas is passionate about improving peoples' lives and protecting the environment, as evidenced by her research into water, sanitation and hygiene (WaSH) in developing countries. She has a Bachelor of Science with honours in microbiology and a Bachelor of Arts in politics and international relations from the University of New South Wales, followed by a PhD in Environmental Engineering in conjunction with the US Environmental Protection Agency and UNSW. Whilst working as a policy analyst for the Water Unit with the NSW Health Department, which included exposure to remote Aboriginal communities, she came to understand firsthand the critical importance of effective translation of research into policy and practice. Dr Thomas followed her passion and started a WaSH research group at the Ifakara Health Institute - an NGO based in rural Tanzania - where she lived and worked for nearly four years, before joining the University of Sydney in 2016 to teach in the new Humanitarian Engineering major, the first of its kind in Australia. Dr Thomas maintains active research collaborations with partners in Africa, Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

Research interests

Hundreds of thousands of people die every year from diseases related to lack of adequate water, sanitation and hygiene. Inadequate sanitation alone affects around 2.7 billion people globally. Particularly vulnerable are those living in developing countries and remote communities, where the impacts of climate change will have more severe consequences. Dr Jacqueline Thomas' research into climate-resilient sanitation systems aims to reduce these figures.

"Improving access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene is critical to protecting human health as well as the environment. Poor sanitation includes the absence of effective treatment of human waste, and causes disease as well as environmental degradation; it also represents a lost opportunity for nutrient and energy recovery.

"The aim of my research is to design, implement and evaluate integrated, sustainable, climate-resilient water, sanitation and hygiene systems that can serve the world's most vulnerable rural and urban communities. The regions in which I work include sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia and the Pacific, as well as remote Indigenous communities here in Australia.

"In many developing countries, rapid urbanisation has led to large unplanned and un-serviced areas in which human faecal waste, greywater and solid waste are not safely treated but directly discharged into the environment. This results in widespread disease as well as contamination of waterways. Further, it represents a lost opportunity to process this waste to produce, for example, biogas for cooking or bio-solids for fertiliser.

"For every potential intervention, we consider whether it satisfies the community's needs and wants, improves people's health and livelihoods, benefits the environment, will be sustainable and will withstand future extreme weather events due to climate change.

"I've been working in this field since 2007, mainly in Australia as well as in sub-Saharan Africa. I have a passion for improving people's lives and protecting the environment, which is why I focus on this area."

Teaching and supervision

  • CIVL3310: Humanitarian Engineering - Students will learn how to work in disadvantaged communities, fragile states and communities in disaster recovery.
  • CIVL5320: Engineering for Sustainable Development - Students will learn about the connection between technological and infrastructural development and sustainable economic and social development in developing countries.
  • CIVL5330: Global Engineering Field Work - Students will work in a disadvantaged community setting in intensive mode with specific engineering objectives.

Associations

  • Member of The International Water Association
  • Honorary Research Fellow with the Pollution Research Group, School of Chemical Engineering, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
  • Adjunct Research Fellow with the Water Research Centre, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of New South Wales

Awards and honours

  • 2015 UNSW Alumni Award in Science and Technology
  • 2014 Finalist for the UNSW Women in Engineering Award - Maria Skyllas-Kazacos Young Professional Award for Outstanding Achievement
  • 2013 Best poster presentation at the Southern African Young Water Professionals Conference. Awarded a travel grant to attend the Water Institute of Southern Africa biennial conference.
  • 2011 Prince of Wales Award for Australian Defence Force Reservists to undertake a professional development opportunity and a military attachment completed in New Zealand
  • 2008 American Australian Association Education Fellowship, to facilitate 12 months research during my PhD at the United States of America Environmental Protection Agency

In the media

    International collaboration


      Domestic collaboration

        Selected grants

        2017

        • A virtual reality learning laboratory for diverse environments; Thomas J, Gibbens P, Marks B; DVC Education/Large Educational Innovation Grant.

        2016

        • Decentralized Sanitation Systems for Dar es Salaam; Thomas J; UK Department for International Development (DFID)/Research Support.

        2015

        • Determining the effectiveness of water, sanitation and hygiene interventions to reduce health vulnerability to climate change in Tanzania; Thomas J; UK Department for International Development (DFID)/Research Support.

        2014

        • Reducing diarrhoea incidences in urban slums and rural areas by houseflies control with a novel insecticide-baited trap and mobile phone advertising; Thomas J; Grand Challenges Canada/Research Support.
        • An innovative chlorine dosing mechanism for ceramic filter pots to achieve complete household level drinking water treatment for low-income communities; Thomas J; Grand Challenges Canada/Research Support.
        • A novel rice husk fired furnace to sterilize human excreta and create a safe faecal fertilizer business which will motivate up-take of improved ecological sanitation; Thomas J; Grand Challenges Canada/Research Support.

        2013

        • Using appropriate community H2S water quality tests to engage people in safer water and sanitation practices in Tanzania; Thomas J; USAID/Research Support.

        2012

        • Longitudinal analyses of the impact of rural sanitation technologies in open and closed drinking water sources in Namawala, Tanzania; Thomas J; USAID/Research Support.

        Selected publications

        Download citations: PDF RTF Endnote

        Journals

        • Thomas, J., Thomas, T., Stuetz, R., Ashbolt, N. (2014). Your garden hose: A potential health risk due to Legionella spp. growth facilitated by free-living amoebae. Environmental Science and Technology, 48(17), 10456-10464. [More Information]
        • Thomas, J., Ashbolt, N. (2011). Do free-living amoebae in treated drinking water systems present an emerging health risk? Environmental Science and Technology, 45(3), 860-869. [More Information]

        Conferences

        • Matous, P., Thomas, J., El Zein, A. (2017). An assessment of the role of mobile phones in international development. RDI Conference 2017 (Research for Development Impact network Conference).
        • Johnson, F., Boniphace, A., Guo, D., Matwewe, F., Thomas, J., Wilson, D. (2017). Predictions in ungauged basins and parsimony in calibration parameters. International Association of Hydrological Sciences (IAHS) Scientific Assembly 2017, South Africa.
        • Matwewe, F., Boniphace, A., Guo, D., Johnson, F., Rwelengera, B., Lwetoijera, D., Thomas, J. (2017). Strong government research partnerships are the key to forming new health adaptation to climate change policies in Tanzania. RDI Conference 2017 (Research for Development Impact network Conference).
        • Engel, S., Thomas, J. (2017). Working in cross-discipline partnerships to address sustainable sanitation in the Pacific. RDI Conference 2017 (Research for Development Impact network Conference).
        • Thomas, J., Hyland, K., Matwewe, F., Kalebela, F., Young, D., Holbro, N. (2015). Affordable hydrogen sulphide water quality test purchased by low-income communities via a viable local business model. International Water Association Development Congress, Amman, Jordan.
        • Matwewe, F., Thomas, J. (2015). Combining ceramic filter pots and chlorination: an affordable and scale-able option for safe water. International Water Association Development Congress, Amman, Jordan.
        • Mrimi, E., Thomas, J. (2015). Developing a novel rice husk fired furnace to sterilize human excreta and create a bio-solids business. International Water Association Development Congress, Amman, Jordan.
        • Duma, L., Ngoda, G., Thomas, J., Schmidt, A. (2015). Establishing a local business model for the collection and decentralized treatment of faecal sludge in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. International Water Association, South African Young Water Professional Conference, Pretoria, South Africa.
        • Matwewe, F., Mrimi, E., Thomas, J. (2015). Improving household level water treatment in Tanzania by chlorinating locally produced ceramic filter pots. International Water Association, South African Young Water Professional Conference, Pretoria, South Africa.
        • Mrimi, E., Kellner, C., Thomas, J. (2015). Producing biosolids for farmers in rural Tanzania by using a novel rice husk fired furnace to heat sterilize faecal sludge. International Water Association, South African Young Water Professional Conference, Pretoria, South Africa.
        • Musiba, R., Ntamatungiro, A., Thomas, J. (2015). Reducing diarrhoeal disease in urban communities in Tanzania with a novel insecticide baited fly trap. International Water Association, South African Young Water Professional Conference, Pretoria, South Africa.
        • Thomas, J., D'Mello-Guyett, L., Choyo, H., Msofe, S., Baker, R., Holbro, N., Young, D. (2014). "Pump for Life" - a micro-insurance model for sustainable community water points. Water Institute of South Africa Biennial Conference, Nelspruit, South Africa.
        • Mrimi, E., Thomas, J. (2014). Training Tanzanian scientists and engineers with the right skills for the water, sanitation and hygiene sector. Annual water association Conference, Arusha, Tanzania.
        • Hyland, K., Thomas, J., Matwewe, F., Kalebela, F., Young, D. (2014). Water quality tests detecting hydrogen sulphide producing bacteria for use by low income communities. Annual water association Conference, Arusha, Tanzania.
        • Young, D., Thomas, J. (2013). An overview and approach for developing best practice integrated WASH programs. International Water Association Southern African Young Water Professionals Conference, Stellenbosch, South Africa.
        • Mwangeta, N., Sanga, B., Choyo, H., Matwewe, F., Thomas, J., Holbro, N., Young, D. (2013). Creating markets for ceramic filter pots in the Kilombero Valley, Tanzania. International Water Association Southern African Young Water Professionals Conference, Stellenbosch, South Africa.
        • Thomas, J., Matwewe, F., Mwangeta, N., Holbro, N., Young, D. (2013). How close is too close? Protecting ground water extraction points from faecal contamination in Namawala, Tanzania. International Water Association 17th Health Related Water Microbiology Symposium, Florianopolis, Brazil.
        • Thomas, J., Matwewe, F., Mwangeta, N., Kelly, M., Holbro, N., Young, D. (2013). Impacts on safe ground water extraction in Namawala, Tanzania. International Water Association Southern African Young Water Professionals Conference, Stellenbosch, South Africa.
        • Sanga, B., Chuma, P., Chamwali, S., Mwangeta, N., Thomas, J., Holbro, N., Young, D. (2013). Leading change - creating a sustainable filter pot business in the Kilombero Valley, Tanzania. International Water Association Development Congress (Nairobi, Kenya), Nairobi, Kenya.
        • Sherry, B., Thomas, J., Young, D. (2013). Solar powdered water pumps for groundwater extraction - potential for rapid technology up-take in East Africa. International Water Association Southern African Young Water Professionals Conference, Stellenbosch, South Africa.
        • Thomas, J., Mwangeta, N., Matwewe, F., Kelly, M., Holbro, N., Young, D. (2013). Using water quality and sanitary survey findings to engage the community to up-take safer water and sanitation options in Namawala, Tanzania. International Water Association Development Congress (Nairobi, Kenya), Nairobi, Kenya.
        • Thomas, J., Byleveld, P., Leask, S., Spratt, K., Standen, J., Smith, W. (2012). The centrality of water safety plans to improving water and sewerage services for Aboriginal communities in New South Wales, Australia. International Water Association Water Safety Conference, Kampala, Uganda.
        • Thomas, J. (2011). The Pacific Islands need greater private sector water provision in order to meet its millennium development goals. International Water Association Development Congress (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
        • Thomas, J., Thomas, T., Stuetz, R., Ashbolt, N. (2011). The risk of free-living amoebae interactions with bacterial pathogens in drinking water. International Water Association 16th Health Related Water Microbiology Symposium, Rotorua, New Zealand.
        • Thomas, J., Thomas, T., Stuetz, R., Ashbolt, N. (2010). Diversity of free-living amoebal pathogen hosts in a dual distribution (drinking and recycled) water system. American Water Works Association Water Quality and Technology Conference, Savannah, U.S.A.
        • Thomas, J., Storey, M., Stuetz, R., Ashbolt, N. (2009). Amoebae density and diversity in a dual water distribution system. International Water Association 15th Health Related Water Microbiology Symposium, Naxos, Greece.

        Report

        • Thomas, J., Holbro, N., Young, D. (2013). A review of sanitation and hygiene in Tanzania.

        2017

        • Matous, P., Thomas, J., El Zein, A. (2017). An assessment of the role of mobile phones in international development. RDI Conference 2017 (Research for Development Impact network Conference).
        • Johnson, F., Boniphace, A., Guo, D., Matwewe, F., Thomas, J., Wilson, D. (2017). Predictions in ungauged basins and parsimony in calibration parameters. International Association of Hydrological Sciences (IAHS) Scientific Assembly 2017, South Africa.
        • Matwewe, F., Boniphace, A., Guo, D., Johnson, F., Rwelengera, B., Lwetoijera, D., Thomas, J. (2017). Strong government research partnerships are the key to forming new health adaptation to climate change policies in Tanzania. RDI Conference 2017 (Research for Development Impact network Conference).
        • Engel, S., Thomas, J. (2017). Working in cross-discipline partnerships to address sustainable sanitation in the Pacific. RDI Conference 2017 (Research for Development Impact network Conference).

        2015

        • Thomas, J., Hyland, K., Matwewe, F., Kalebela, F., Young, D., Holbro, N. (2015). Affordable hydrogen sulphide water quality test purchased by low-income communities via a viable local business model. International Water Association Development Congress, Amman, Jordan.
        • Matwewe, F., Thomas, J. (2015). Combining ceramic filter pots and chlorination: an affordable and scale-able option for safe water. International Water Association Development Congress, Amman, Jordan.
        • Mrimi, E., Thomas, J. (2015). Developing a novel rice husk fired furnace to sterilize human excreta and create a bio-solids business. International Water Association Development Congress, Amman, Jordan.
        • Duma, L., Ngoda, G., Thomas, J., Schmidt, A. (2015). Establishing a local business model for the collection and decentralized treatment of faecal sludge in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. International Water Association, South African Young Water Professional Conference, Pretoria, South Africa.
        • Matwewe, F., Mrimi, E., Thomas, J. (2015). Improving household level water treatment in Tanzania by chlorinating locally produced ceramic filter pots. International Water Association, South African Young Water Professional Conference, Pretoria, South Africa.
        • Mrimi, E., Kellner, C., Thomas, J. (2015). Producing biosolids for farmers in rural Tanzania by using a novel rice husk fired furnace to heat sterilize faecal sludge. International Water Association, South African Young Water Professional Conference, Pretoria, South Africa.
        • Musiba, R., Ntamatungiro, A., Thomas, J. (2015). Reducing diarrhoeal disease in urban communities in Tanzania with a novel insecticide baited fly trap. International Water Association, South African Young Water Professional Conference, Pretoria, South Africa.

        2014

        • Thomas, J., D'Mello-Guyett, L., Choyo, H., Msofe, S., Baker, R., Holbro, N., Young, D. (2014). "Pump for Life" - a micro-insurance model for sustainable community water points. Water Institute of South Africa Biennial Conference, Nelspruit, South Africa.
        • Mrimi, E., Thomas, J. (2014). Training Tanzanian scientists and engineers with the right skills for the water, sanitation and hygiene sector. Annual water association Conference, Arusha, Tanzania.
        • Hyland, K., Thomas, J., Matwewe, F., Kalebela, F., Young, D. (2014). Water quality tests detecting hydrogen sulphide producing bacteria for use by low income communities. Annual water association Conference, Arusha, Tanzania.
        • Thomas, J., Thomas, T., Stuetz, R., Ashbolt, N. (2014). Your garden hose: A potential health risk due to Legionella spp. growth facilitated by free-living amoebae. Environmental Science and Technology, 48(17), 10456-10464. [More Information]

        2013

        • Thomas, J., Holbro, N., Young, D. (2013). A review of sanitation and hygiene in Tanzania.
        • Young, D., Thomas, J. (2013). An overview and approach for developing best practice integrated WASH programs. International Water Association Southern African Young Water Professionals Conference, Stellenbosch, South Africa.
        • Mwangeta, N., Sanga, B., Choyo, H., Matwewe, F., Thomas, J., Holbro, N., Young, D. (2013). Creating markets for ceramic filter pots in the Kilombero Valley, Tanzania. International Water Association Southern African Young Water Professionals Conference, Stellenbosch, South Africa.
        • Thomas, J., Matwewe, F., Mwangeta, N., Holbro, N., Young, D. (2013). How close is too close? Protecting ground water extraction points from faecal contamination in Namawala, Tanzania. International Water Association 17th Health Related Water Microbiology Symposium, Florianopolis, Brazil.
        • Thomas, J., Matwewe, F., Mwangeta, N., Kelly, M., Holbro, N., Young, D. (2013). Impacts on safe ground water extraction in Namawala, Tanzania. International Water Association Southern African Young Water Professionals Conference, Stellenbosch, South Africa.
        • Sanga, B., Chuma, P., Chamwali, S., Mwangeta, N., Thomas, J., Holbro, N., Young, D. (2013). Leading change - creating a sustainable filter pot business in the Kilombero Valley, Tanzania. International Water Association Development Congress (Nairobi, Kenya), Nairobi, Kenya.
        • Sherry, B., Thomas, J., Young, D. (2013). Solar powdered water pumps for groundwater extraction - potential for rapid technology up-take in East Africa. International Water Association Southern African Young Water Professionals Conference, Stellenbosch, South Africa.
        • Thomas, J., Mwangeta, N., Matwewe, F., Kelly, M., Holbro, N., Young, D. (2013). Using water quality and sanitary survey findings to engage the community to up-take safer water and sanitation options in Namawala, Tanzania. International Water Association Development Congress (Nairobi, Kenya), Nairobi, Kenya.

        2012

        • Thomas, J., Byleveld, P., Leask, S., Spratt, K., Standen, J., Smith, W. (2012). The centrality of water safety plans to improving water and sewerage services for Aboriginal communities in New South Wales, Australia. International Water Association Water Safety Conference, Kampala, Uganda.

        2011

        • Thomas, J., Ashbolt, N. (2011). Do free-living amoebae in treated drinking water systems present an emerging health risk? Environmental Science and Technology, 45(3), 860-869. [More Information]
        • Thomas, J. (2011). The Pacific Islands need greater private sector water provision in order to meet its millennium development goals. International Water Association Development Congress (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
        • Thomas, J., Thomas, T., Stuetz, R., Ashbolt, N. (2011). The risk of free-living amoebae interactions with bacterial pathogens in drinking water. International Water Association 16th Health Related Water Microbiology Symposium, Rotorua, New Zealand.

        2010

        • Thomas, J., Thomas, T., Stuetz, R., Ashbolt, N. (2010). Diversity of free-living amoebal pathogen hosts in a dual distribution (drinking and recycled) water system. American Water Works Association Water Quality and Technology Conference, Savannah, U.S.A.

        2009

        • Thomas, J., Storey, M., Stuetz, R., Ashbolt, N. (2009). Amoebae density and diversity in a dual water distribution system. International Water Association 15th Health Related Water Microbiology Symposium, Naxos, Greece.

        For support on your academic profile contact .