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Leena Malayil

Leena Malayil

Assistant Research Professor, Global, Environmental, and Occupational Health

Leena Malayil, PhD, is an Assistant Research Professor and the Co-Director of the Maryland Safe Drinking WATER Study. Additionally, she is the Co-PI for the Global FEWture Alliance Grand Challenges Program, the Program Manager of CONSERVE Center of Excellence and an integral member of the DAWN Educational Team.


SPH | Room 2373


Areas of Interest

Core Faculty

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

Dr. Leena Malayil is an Assistant Research Professor at the Global, Environmental, and Occupational Health, where she passionately pursues her interests in environmental health, food safety, water quality, and human infectious diseases

Dr. Malayil acts as the Co-Director of the Maryland Safe Drinking WATER Study alongside Dr. Rianna Murray, Dr. Malayil leads efforts to characterize the drinking water quality of both public drinking water systems and private wells in Maryland's underserved communities using a combination of citizen science, field-based research, and laboratory analyses. 

She is also the Co-PI for the Global FEWture Alliance and leads the Nepal FEWture Project and the UMD Global STEWARDS  Undergraduate Program

Additionally, she also serves as 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 one of the CONSERVE education initiatives, Dr. Malayil developed and directed an undergraduate summer virtual internship program for the CONSERVE Center during the COVID-19 pandemic

She 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 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 Mangalore University, India.

Her 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 labeling 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, 2009

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

Taught as an instructor

  1. MIEH 333 Every Drop Counts: Water, Food and Global Public Health, 3- credits (June 1-July 9, 2021)
  2. MIEH 333 Every Drop Counts: Water, Food and Global Public Health, 3- credits (August 29- December 12, 2022)
  3. MIEH 333 Every Drop Counts: Water, Food and Global Public Health, 3- credits (August 28- December 15, 2023)

Guest Lecturer

  1. Topic "Water and Agriculture" at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign class Crop Sciences 113, Environment, Agriculture, and Society. March 23, 2021
  2. MIEH 771 Exposure Assessment, University of Maryland, College Park. March 3, 2021
  3. MIEH 771 Exposure Assessment, University of Maryland, College Park. March 26, 2022
  4. ENSP340 Water Science, Ethics and Policy, University of Maryland, College Park. November 17, 2022
  5. MIEH 605 Fundamentals of Global Health, University of Maryland, College Park, October 01, 2023
  6. MIEH 771 Exposure Assessment, University of Maryland, College Park. April 22, 2024

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

Delta Omega, Gamma Zeta Chapter, Honorary Society in Public Health, 2022

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

  1. Liang X*, Gower D, Kennedy JA, Kenney M, Maddox MC, Gerst M, Balboa G, Becker T, Cai X, Elmore R, Gao W, He Y, Liang K, Lotton S, Malayil L, Matthews ML. DAWN: Dashboard for Agricultural Water use and Nutrient management - A predictive decision support system to improve crop production in a changing climate. Bulletin of American Meteorological Society (BAMS) in press
  2. Zhu L*, Chattopadhyay S, Akanbi OE, Lobo S, Panthi S, Malayil L, Craddock H, Allard SM., Manan S, Kniel KE., Mongodin EF., Chiu PC, Sapkota A, Sapkota AR. Biochar and Zerovalent Iron--based columns to simultaneously remove contaminants of emerging concern and Escherichia coli in wastewater effluents.
  3. Chattopadhyay S*, Malayil L, Syeda Kaukab, Zachary Merenstein, Amy R Sapkota. The predisposition of smokers to COVID-19 infection: A mini-review of global perspectives. Heliyon (2023)
  4. Chattopadhyay S*, Ramachandran P, Malayil L, Mongodin EF, Sapkota AR. Conventional Tobacco products Harbor Unique but Heterogenous Microbiomes. Environmental Research (2023) 10.1016/j.envres.2022.115205. 
  5. Malayil L*, Ramachandran P, Chattopadhyay S, Allard SM, Bui A, Butron J, Callahan MT, Craddock H, Murray R, East C, Sharma M, Kniel K, Micallef S, Hashem F, Gerba C, Ravishankar S, Parveen S, May E, Sapkota A, Pop M, Handy E, Kulkarni P, Anderson B, Craighead S, Gartley S, Vanore A, Duncan R, Foust D, Haymaker J, Betancourt W, Zhu L, Mongodin EF, Sapkota AR. Variations in Bacterial Diversity and Antibiotic Resistance Genes Across Diverse Recycled Irrigation Water Sources in the Mid-Atlantic and Southwest United States: A CONSERVE Two-year Field Study. Environmental Science and Technology (2022) 
  6. Malayil L*, Chattopadhyay S, Mongodin EF, Sapkota AR. Bacterial Communities of Hookah Tobacco Products are Diverse and Differ Across Brands and Flavors. Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology (2022)
  7. Malayil L#, Chattopadhyay S#, Bui A, Panse M, Cagle R, Mongodin EF, Sapkota AR. Viable Bacteria Abundant in Cigarettes are Aerosolized in Mainstream Smoke. Environmental Research (2022)
  8. 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. Environmental Microbiome (2021) DOI: 10.1186/s40793-021-00382-1.
  9. Chattopadhyay S*, Malayil L, Mongodin EF., Sapkota AR. Nicotine Concentration and Mentholation Affect Bacterial Community Diversity in SPECTRUM Research Cigarettes. Applied Microbiology & Biotechnology (2021) DOI: 10.1007/s00253-021-11327-6.
  10. 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. 
  11. 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) DOI: 10.1128/jmbe.v22i1.2625.
  12. 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. 
  13. 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)
  14. Malayil L*, Chattopadhyay S, Smyth EM, Hittle L, Clark PI, Mongodin EF, Sapkota AR.  Mentholation triggers brand-specific shifts in the bacterial microbiota of commercial cigarette products. Applied Microbiology & Biotechnology (2020).
  15. 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. 
  16. Shaw KS*, Cruz-Cano R, Jiang C, Malayil L, Palmer A, Blythe D, Ryan P, and Sapkota AR. Presence of animal feeding operations and community socioeconomic factors impact salmonellosis incidence rates: Foodborne diseases active surveillance network (FoodNet), 2004-2010. Environmental Research (2016). 150:166-172. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2016.05.049.
  17. Turner JW*, Malayil L, Guadognoli D, Cole DC, and Lipp EK. Detection of Vibrio parahaemolyticus, Vibrio vulnificus, and Vibrio cholerae with respect to seasonal fluctuations in temperature and plankton abundance. Environmental Microbiology (2014) 16(4):1019-28. DOI: 10.1111/1462-2920.12246. 
  18. Demoro B*, Caruso F, Rossi M,  Benítez D, González M, Cerecetto H, Galizzi M, Malayil L, Docampo R, Faccio R, Mombrú AW, Gambino D and Otero L. Bisphosphonate metal complexes as selective inhibitors of Trypanosoma cruzi farnesyl diphosphate synthase. Dalton Transactions(2012) 7;41(21):6468-76. DOI: 10.1039/c2dt12179d.
  19. Szajnman SH*, Rosso VS, Malayil L, Smith A, Moreno SNJ, Docampo R, and Rodriguez JB. 1-(Fluoroalkylidene) -1,1-bisphosphonic Acids are Potent and Selective Inhibitors of the Enzymatic Activity of Toxoplasma gondii Farnesyl Pyrophosphate Synthase. Organic and Biomolecular Chemistry(2012) 10(7):1424-33. DOI: 10.1039/c1ob06602a. 
  20. Rosso VS*, Szajnman SH, Malayil L, Galizzi M, Moreno SNJ, Docampo R, and Rodriguez JB. Synthesis and Biological Evaluation of New 2- alkylaminoethyl-1,1-bisphosphonic acids against Trypanosoma cruzi and Toxoplasma gondii targeting Farnesyl Diphosphate Synthase. Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry(2011) 19(7):2211-7. DOI: 10.1016/j.bmc.2011.02.037.
  21. 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 Applied Microbiology (2011). 110(6):1470-5. DOI:10.1111/j.1365-2672.2011.04996.x.