Walter Betancourt

Associate Research Professor, Environmental Science

Member of the Graduate Faculty

Dr. Walter Q. Betancourt is a Microbiologist with expertise in Environmental Virology and Parasitology. His initial studies in Biology and Microbiology took place in Venezuela, where he earned a B.S in Biology with a major in Microbiology from a coordinated course work between two institutions: University of Zulia and Universidad Central de Venezuela. He earned his PhD in 2003 at the University of South Florida, College of Marine Science in St. Petersburg, Florida, where he developed methods for recovery and detection of protozoan pathogens in recycled waters, aquifers, and marine waters. He conducted postdoctoral research at Michigan State University and Texas A&M University in 2003-2004 followed by a third postdoctoral research position at the University of Hawaii at Manoa from August 2004 to August 2006. After that, He spent 8 years working as Staff Scientist at the Venezuelan Institute for Scientific Resarch where he established the Environmental Molecular Microbiology Laboratory to conduct scientific research in tropical marine environments looking for pathogens and microbial indicators of both polluted and pristine environments. During that time, He taught several courses at the graduate level and provided training to doctoral and master students on methods for recovery, concentration, detection and identification of viral and protozan pathogens in marine and freshwater environments. In 2015, (10/1/2015-3/30/2016) he initiated scientific research as a Visiting Scholar with Dr. Charles Gerba's group at The University of Arizona as part of the Fulbright Program. After that, he was offered a non-tenured track  Assistant Research Professor position of the Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Science.  Dr. Betancourt's research has been focused on water pollution microbiology with an emphasis on enteric viral and protozoan pathogens, looking at alternative indicators of these pathogens in tropical marine and freshwater environments of North America and South America. He holds a solid record of interdisciplinary research with Faculty Members of The University of Arizona (College of Engineering: Departments of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, Biomedical Engineering) Zuckerman College of Public Health, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Drexel University, and prior to that with scientists and Faculty members from Stony Brook University, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, University of Miami, University of Hawaii and the Venezuelan Institute for Scientific Research.   As a Faculty Member of the Department of Environmental Science, Dr. Betancourt conducts research with Dr. Ian Pepper's and Charles Gerba's groups at the Water and Energy Sustainable Technology (WEST) Center, a leading-edge venue focused on advanced water and wastewater treatment and monitoring, alternative energy and related technologies. 

Offering Research Opportunities?


Prerequisite Courses

Basic microbiology skills

Majors Considered

Environmental Science Microbiology Chemical Engineering Environmental Engineering Public Health

Types of Opportunities

Description of Opportunity

No description given

Start Date

January 2024

Primary Department

Affiliated Departments

Research Location