Professor JJ Miranda


On January 3, 2024, JJ Miranda, associate professor of biological sciences, published new research, alongside colleagues, in the American Society for Microbiology journal mSphere, titled “Building-Level Wastewater Surveillance Localizes Interseasonal Influenza Variation.” The highly collaborative and multidisciplinary team included professor of environmental science Brian Mailloux, Chief Health Officer Marina Catallozzi, staff from the Office of Health and Wellness, Office of Facilities Services, and Department of Biology, and five undergraduate students. 

With their research, Miranda and his colleagues set out to detect the arrival and estimate the case magnitude of seasonal influenza in urban New York City college dormitory buildings. Using wastewater-based surveillance the researchers measured viral RNA in the sewage outflow of three dormitories at Barnard in 2021 and 2022. They found that wastewater test positivity strongly correlated with both New York County and campus clinical cases, but that positive samples were not evenly distributed among buildings, meaning that wastewater surveillance can serve as a useful indicator of where exactly the flu is spreading within a localized environment.

Citing that the influenza virus remains a recurring threat to public health, and infects many populations annually, often with unpredictable magnitude and timing, Miranda and his colleagues assert the potential value of building-level wastewater surveillance in measuring influenza incidence to help guide public health intervention.