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Leena Malayil

Leena Malayil

Assistant Research Professor, Applied Environmental Health

Leena Malayil, PhD, is an Assistant Research Professor in the Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health. She is the Program Manager of CONSERVE Center of Excellence, funded by USDA-NIFA which investigates transformative on‐farm treatment solutions that enable the safe use of nontraditional irrigation water. She is also part of the DAWN Educational Team, supported by USDA- NIFA and will be managing the Summer Internship Program and co-teaching one of the undergraduate courses through the DAWN project. 


SPH | Room 2373


Areas of Interest

Environmental Health; Food Safety and Water Quality; Human Infectious Diseases; Global Health

Dr. Leena Malayil is an Assistant Research Professor at the Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health. She is the Program Manager of CONSERVE: A Center of Excellence at the Nexus of Sustainable Water Reuse, Food & Health, a multi-institution Center funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture (2016-2021). 

As part of the CONSERVE education initiatives, Dr. Malayil recently developed and directed an undergraduate summer virtual internship program for the CONSERVE Center. 

Dr. Malayil is also part of the DAWN (The Dashboard for Agricultural Water Use and Nutrient Management ) Educational Team and aims to teach and inspire the next generation of leaders in sustainable agricultural water use and nutrient management by managing the Summer Internship Program and co-teaching one of the undergraduate courses. 

Dr. Malayil received a PhD in Toxicology and Environmental Health Sciences from the University of Maryland School of Public Health and a Master of Science in Toxicology from the University of Georgia School of Public Health. She also holds a Master of Science in Microbiology and a Bachelor of Science degree with a triple major in Chemistry, Zoology and Microbiology from Bangalore and MangaloreUniversity, India.

Dr. Malayil's research interests lie in the fields of environmental health, food safety, water quality and human infectious diseases. For her doctoral work, she explored the metabolically-active bacterial communities in nontraditional irrigation water samples (reclaimed water, surface waters and rooftop harvested rainwater), soil and produce from the Mid-Atlantic region by coupling DNA labelling and next-generation sequencing techniques. She also evaluated culture-dependent and -independent methods to detect metabolically-active pathogenic and non-pathogenic Vibrio species in nontraditional irrigation water sources in the Mid-Atlantic region. 


PhD, Toxicology and Environmental Health, 2019

University of Maryland School of Public Health, College Park, Maryland 

MS, Toxicology, 2019

University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia

MSc, Microbiology, 2003

Ramaiah College, Bangalore University, Karnataka, India 

BSc, Microbiology, Zoology and Chemistry, 2000

St. Agnes College, Mangalore University, Karnataka, India

Raymond Sarber Award from American Society of Microbiology, 2018

Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health (MIAEH) Wait Family Endowed Graduate Scholarship, 2017

University of Maryland School of Public Health Dean's Fellowship, 2015 -2018

Articles published in peer-reviewed journals (* denotes first authorship, # denotes shared authorship)

  1. Malayil L*, Chattopadhyay S, Hittle L, Mongodin EF, Sapkota AR. Coupled DNA-labeling and sequencing approach enables the detection of Vibrio spp. in irrigation water sources in Chesapeake watershed (accepted) Environmental Microbiome (2021).
  2. Chattopadhyay S*, Malayil L, Mongodin EF., Sapkota AR. Nicotine Concentration and Mentholation Affect Bacterial Community Diversity in SPECTRUM Research Cigarettes (accepted) Applied Microbiology & Biotechnology (2021)
  3. Chattopadhyay S#, Malayil L#, Mongodin EF, Sapkota AR. A roadmap from unknowns to knowns: Advancing our understanding of the microbiomes of commercially-available tobacco products. Applied Microbiology & Biotechnology (2021) doi: 10.1007/s00253-021-11183-4
  4. Malayil L*, Negahban-Azar M, Goldstein RR, Sharma M, Gleason J, Muise A, Murray R, Sapkota AR. “Zoom”ing Our Way Through Virtual Undergraduate Research Training: A Successful Redesign of the CONSERVE Summer Internship Program. Journal of Microbiology and Biology Education (2021) (Accepted) 
  5. Chattopadhyay S#, Arnold J#, Malayil L, Hittle LE., Mongodin EF., Marathe KS., Sapkota AR., Gomez-Lobo V. Potential role of the skin and gut microbiota in premenarchal vulvar lichen sclerosus: a pilot case-control study. PLoS ONE (2021) 16(1): e0245243. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0245243
  6. Malayil L*, Ramachandran P, Chattopadhyay S, Cagle R, Hittle L, Ottesen A, Mongodin EF, Sapkota AR. Metabolically-active bacteria in reclaimed water and ponds revealed using bromodeoxyuridine DNA labeling coupled with 16SrRNA and shotgun sequencing. Water Research (2020)
  7. Malayil L*, Chattopadhyay S, Smyth EM, Hittle L, Clark PI, Mongodin EF, Sapkota AR. 2020 Mentholation triggers brand-specific shifts in the bacterial microbiota of commercial cigarette products. Applied Microbiology & Biotechnology (2020).
  8. Smyth EM*, Chattopadhyay S, Chopyk J, Malayil L, Kulkarni P, Hittle L, Clark P, Sapkota AR, Mongodin EF. The bacterial communities of little cigars and cigarillos are dynamic over time and varying storage conditions. Frontiers. Microbiology (2019). 10:2371. doi:10.3389/fmicb.2019.02371.
  9. Shaw KS*, Cruz-Cano R, Jiang C, Malayil L, Palmer A, Blythe D, Ryan P and Sapkota AR. 2016. Presence of animal feeding operations and community socioeconomic factors impact salmonellosis incidence rates: Foodborne diseases active surveillance network (FoodNet), 2004-2010. Environ Res. 150:166-172. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2016.05.049.
  10. Turner JW*, Malayil L, Guadognoli D, Cole DC and Lipp EK. 2014. Detection of Vibrio parahaemolyticus, Vibrio vulnificus and Vibrio cholerae with respect to seasonal fluctuations in temperature and plankton abundance. Environ Microbiol. 16(4):1019-28. doi: 10.1111/1462-2920.12246.
  11. Demoro B*, Caruso F, Rossi M, Benitez D, Gonzalez M, Cerecetto H, Galizzi M, Malayil L, Docampo R, Faccio R, Mombru AW, Gambino D and Otero L. Bisphosphonate metal complexes as selective inhibitors of Trypansoma cruzi farnesyl disphosphate synthase. Dalton Trans.(2012) 7;41(21):6468-76. doi: 10.1039/c2dt12179d.
  12. Szajnman SH*, Rosso VS, Malayil L, Smith A, Moreno SNJ, Docampo R, and Rodriguez JB. 2012. 1-(Fluoroalkylidene) -1,1-bisphosphonic Acids are Potent and Selective Inhibitors of the Enzymatic Activity of Toxoplasma gondii Farnesyl Pyrophosphate Synthase. Org Biomol Chem. 10(7):1424-33. doi: 10.1039/c1ob06602a.
  13. Rosso VS*, Szajnman SH, Malayil L, Galizzi M, Moreno SNJ, Docampo R, and Rodriguez JB. 2011. Synthesis and Biological Evaluation of New 2- alkylaminoethyl-1,1-bisphosphonic acids against Trypanosoma cruzi and Toxoplasma gondii targeting Farnesyl Diphosphate Synthase. Bioorg Med Chem. 19(7):2211-7. doi: 10.1016/j.bmc.2011.02.037.
  14. Malayil L*, Turner JW, Mote BL, Howe K, Lipp EK. 2011. Evaluation of enrichment media for improved PCR- based detection of V. cholerae and V. vulnificus from estuarine water and plankton. Journal of applied Microbiology. J Appl Microbiol. 110(6):1470-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2672.2011.04996.x.