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Max A. Zarate-Bermudez, MS MPH PhD*

Assistant Professor, Environmental Health and Safety Program

East Carolina University

Greenville, NC 27858


Max A. Zarate-Bermudez is currently an epidemiologist at the Environmental Health Services Branch, Emergencies and Environmental Health Services Division of the CDC's National Center for Environmental Health in Atlanta. At the time of his acceptance in EPHLI and before joining the CDC, he was an Assistant Professor of Environmental Health at East Carolina University (ECU) in Greenville, NC. Max holds a Bachelor degree in Chemistry from the Universidad Mayor de San Simón in Bolivia (where he is originally from). He also holds an MS degree in Water Quality Management from the University of Surrey, UK, and an MPH and PhD in Environmental Health Sciences from the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley).

Since the time he finished his first degree, back in 1989, Max was already committed to work in environmental public health---although that denomination did not exist then. It was the poor economic and health indicators of his native Bolivia that pushed him to work on water, environment, and health issues. In 1987, he visited Berkeley where he met Prof. William J. Oswald  who later became his mentor during Max's graduate studies at UC Berkeley (1994-2001). During 1990-1991 he was a fellow in the Young Professional Residents Program at the Pan American Center for Sanitary Engineering and Environmental Health (CEPIS) in Lima, Peru. There he worked in an Industrial Ecology project for the leather industry and experienced the involvement of CEPIS in the control of the Cholera Epidemic of 1991. In 1992, once back in Bolivia, he was the Director of the Urban Sanitation Bureau for the city of Cochabamba and a university instructor. He led the County Task Force to control the Cholera Epidemic that had expanded to Cochabamba. In 1993, he got a scholarship for his MS studies in the U.K. where he worked on Multi-Stage Water Filtration Systems for drinking water treatment. In 1994 he started his new career and life in the U.S. (becoming a U.S. Citizen in 2003). At Berkeley, he studied Environmental Health Sciences and his main focus was on biological processes for wastewater treatment. For his doctoral dissertation, he studied the fate of selenium in an algal-bacterial selenium removal system treating agricultural drainage water in the San Joaquin Valley of California. For family reasons he moved to Atlanta in 2000 where he wrote his dissertation. In 2001 he started consulting work in water, health, and development projects mainly in Guatemala and Bolivia before accepting his assistant professor position at ECU in 2004. Teaching, conducting research, and providing service to the community in eastern North Carolina was a rewarding experience for Max. His areas of work included Safe Water, Wastewater Management, and Environmental Justice. At the CDC his work is focused on Onsite Wastewater, Grey Water Reuse, and other water and wastewater projects as they relate to environmental public health.

* Currently at the Environmental Health Services Branch, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - NCEH; (770) 488 7421; . W.J. Oswald was a professor in both the College of Engineering and the School of Public Health at UC Berkeley. He passed away in 2005. 

Leadership Development Opportunities
I express my sincere gratitude for the opportunity to be part of the CDC's Environmental Public Health Leadership Institute (EPHLI). I had a great deal of opportunities for both personal and professional growth. The spirit of collegiality among members of my cohort and previous ones not only contributed to that growth, but also reassured my commitment to keep working for a common goal: enhance the core competencies of environmental health practitioners nationwide. Learning the many tools for assessing problems, and implementing and evaluating projects individually or as part of a team is priceless. Finally, I firmly believe that the ultimate beneficiary of this effort is the community because improved environmental health services at local, state, tribal, and national levels will only enhance people's quality of life.