UNC Gillings doctoral student Major Jay Reyes creating a sand filter in Afghanistan.
UNC Gillings doctoral student Major Jay Reyes creating a sand filter in Afghanistan.

When U.S. soldiers are fighting on the battlefield or behind enemy lines, they can encounter a challenge that’s almost as hazardous as enemy fire, air strikes or improvised explosive devices (IEDs): contaminated water. But a U.S. Army major is now enrolled in a PhD program at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he hopes to create a powerful new weapon to combat this threat for the military and others.

“Bad water can slow down and compromise a mission, hitting every man in the field. This becomes especially dangerous for troops in the Special Operation Forces (SOF) who are often operating behind enemy lines on missions where they have to be extremely mobile, quick and discreet,” says Jay Reyes, MPH, an active-duty U.S. Army Major and PhD student in the Environmental Sciences and Engineering Department at UNC’s Gillings School of Global Public Health. “Along with the immediate health complications, the water we are finding in countries like Afghanistan, Iraq and other under developed nations can produce long-term negative health effects on our troops. That’s why I’m doing this research.”

The research Reyes mentions is the subject of his PhD studies, which he is doing under the supervision of Mark Sobsey, PhD, Kenan Professor, environmental sciences and engineering. It involves the inherent quality of water troops ingest in the field, especially when it is needed by small, highly mobile teams traveling on foot, such as SOF.

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