Karl Zimmermann

Student Fellow


PhD Candidate


Environmental Engineering


Applied Science



Geographic Location

Vancouver, BC

Karl Zimmermann is a PhD Candidate, NSERC Vanier Scholar, UBC Friedman, and UBC Public Scholar in Environmental Engineering at the University of British Columbia. His research seeks to understand how biological ion exchange can provide low-maintenance drinking water filters to remove natural organic matter from surface waters, especially for rural communities. Guided by the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal #6 and the human right to safe water and sanitation, Karl is interested in improving the translation of research innovations into locally-adapted water solutions with developing communities around the World. Pursuant this ambition, Karl spent two months in spring 2022 in Madagascar working with a local NGO on rainwater harvesting, passive solar desalination, and learning the tools to build water partnerships. Karl is also a Research Scientist with RES’EAU Centre for Mobilizing Innovation, where he is helping to implement drinking water treatment solutions in rural First Nations communities in BC.

When not in school, Karl can be found logging miles on the Fraser River with the UBC varsity rowing team. Rowing has been a passion since starting his undergrad, and which has shown the importance of clean water for health and the enjoyment of life.

Areas of Interest: drinking water in under-developed and drought-prone communities

Primary Recipient Awards

Karl Zimmermann – Catalyst Fellows – 2022

The Wall Catalyst Student Fellow cohort will first come together to engage in the online, interdisciplinary Facing Human Wrongs course and subsequently work together on a number of public-facing projects.

The course content touches upon systemic, historical and ongoing violence, unsustainability, our complicities in social and ecological harm, and our tendency to address complex problems, such as biodiversity loss, food insecurity, economic and political crises, and the potential for social and environmental collapse, with simplistic solutions. The course requires students to be willing to be uncomfortable and to have their perspective challenged.

Karl Zimmermann – Catalyst Collaboration Fund – 2023

Worldwide Voices for Water Partnerships

Changing climate threatens access to safe drinking water, leaving people and especially women and children vulnerable to health risks and ‘plumbing violence’. With half the population estimated to experience water stress by 2050, we need tools to ensure safe and equitable access to water and sanitation for all. This proposal will create a film to share water stories from around the world on creating resilient safe water solutions through adopting a partnership approach and placing local voices central to the process.