Riley E. Mulhern is a Research Environmental Engineer with RTI’s Center for Environmental Health, Risk, and Sustainability where he focuses on issues of drinking water quality, environmental contamination, and human health-related exposures across the globe. Using his expertise in water quality and treatment, risk assessment, data science, environmental justice, and community-engaged research, Dr. Mulhern strives to identify, test, and implement practical solutions to environmental health challenges. He supports a wide range of projects at RTI including analyses of drinking water quality in Guatemala City, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in private well water across the U.S., and lead in water in schools and childcare centers across North Carolina and Georgia.
Prior to joining RTI, Dr. Mulhern completed his Ph.D. at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he studied the effectiveness of point-of-use water treatment technologies for private well users in North Carolina affected by contamination from lead, PFAS, and microbial contaminants. His work led to findings regarding low-cost methods of reducing drinking water exposures from well water in a low-income area of North Carolina with broad implications for well users across the U.S. He also led a team exploring childhood lead exposures from drinking water in North Carolina using machine-learning methods. Dr. Mulhern spent two years in Oruro, Bolivia working with Centro de Ecología y Pueblos Andinos (the Center for Ecology and Andean Peoples) on issues of mining contamination and water quality among indigenous communities in the Andes. While there, he helped investigate the social and environmental impacts of a large gold mining operation and developed a portable water quality laboratory to equip local community leaders to conduct environmental monitoring.
Prior to his time in Bolivia, Dr. Mulhern graduated from the University of Colorado Boulder with an M.S. in Environmental Engineering where he focused on advanced water treatment processes for controlling emerging disinfection byproducts in water and wastewater. Through his range of experiences, Dr. Mulhern has developed a strong ability to analyze complex data sets and clearly communicate scientific information to both lay and technical audiences and uses these skills to support evidence-based decision-making and improve environmental health.