Loren Hopkins is a nationally recognized expert in environmental science and engineering. Her unique affiliation with Rice University’s Department of Statistics and the Houston Health Department has played a central role in applied research and the translation of advances in science, engineering, and higher education to inform city policymakers and improve public health. In March 2022, she was named to the National Academies’ Committee on Community Wastewater-based Disease Surveillance.
Since 2001, Hopkins has served as a lecturer, faculty fellow, and professor in the practice of statistics at Rice University. She teaches courses in her areas of expertise, including environmental statistics and decision-making, the association between human health and air pollution exposure, and human health risk assessment.
Hopkins has been involved in all aspects of human health risk assessment, including as a practitioner in the private sector, regulatory reviewer, policy developer, and instructor. She is currently the chief environmental science officer for the Houston Health Department. In this role, Hopkins leads the Data Services, Data Science, and Wastewater Sampling and Surveillance programs for the City of Houston. In 2014, she served as a visiting scientist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Air Pollution and Respiratory Health Branch in Atlanta, Georgia. Hopkins has served as the chair of the Regional Air Quality Planning Advisory Committee Executive Board, and as the chair of the Houston Wilderness Executive Board. Currently, she serves on the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC).
For the City of Houston and its Department of Health, Hopkins has provided local, state, and national leadership on environmental studies and has reviewed proposed state, federal and local environmental policies impacting the Greater Houston Area. In May 2020, Hopkins began leading efforts between Rice and the City of Houston to establish and implement a city-wide wastewater epidemiology surveillance program to serve as an early-warning system to inform a planned response to viral outbreaks.
Hopkins’ research has been published in 24 peer-reviewed journal papers and has been presented at many local, state, and national conferences. She has been involved in all aspects of human health risk assessment, including as a practitioner in the private sector, regulatory reviewer, policy developer, and continuing education instructor at various locations across the U.S.