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The team stands on stage for a group photo.
Taylor Lightner, Haniyyah Majeed, Benjamin Davis, Ishi Keenum, Kory Wait

Stories of public-inspired science

In February, graduate students on the U.S. Water Study Research Team revisited their experiences working with communities to dig deeper into water issues that have arisen throughout the country.

Led by civil and environmental engineering professors Marc Edwards and Amy Pruden, the U.S. Water Study Research Team aims to practice science as a public good. Over the years, that's meant going to communities facing problems with their water, working directly with residents and listening to their observations, and investigating water system conditions in the field and in the lab.

The team's roots date back to 2003, when Edwards helped expose lead levels in drinking water in Washington, D.C., and to 2015, when the team conducted a citizen science project to test for lead in 300 homes across Flint, Michigan, during the city's water crisis. Along with their study of lead, the team's investigations have spanned issues like microbial contamination and infrastructure damage from natural disasters. They've gone to communities in places like New York, Louisiana, Puerto Rico, Michigan, Texas, and South Carolina. And their efforts have changed how team members see water in this world, themselves, and the possibilities and problems of working in science.

Earlier this year, five team members shared their stories live at the Haymarket Theater in Blacksburg, Virginia.

Photos taken prior to onset of COVID-19 pandemic.

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