Dr. Marc Edwards is considered one of the world's leading experts in water treatment and corrosion. He is one of the whistleblowers in the Flint water crisis. Edwards is famously known for exposing the lead contamination problems in Washington, D.C. (2004) and Flint Michigan (2015). Edwards is University Distinguished Professor and the Charles P. Lunsford Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Virginia Tech. Edwards earned his bachelor’s degree in biophysics from the State University of New York at Buffalo in 1986 and master’s and doctoral degrees in environmental engineering at the University of Washington in 1988 and 1991, respectively.
Edwards, a renowned expert in municipal water quality, along with his water study team, conducted an unprecedented independent evaluation of water contamination in Flint, Michigan, residents’ homes that exposed problems with legionella and lead and brought national attention to the crisis in 2015.
Edwards' role in uncovering the problem has been widely reported by media from around the world, including The New York Times, Smithsonian magazine, Time, The Washington Post, CNN, MSNBC, and Scientific American.
Before Flint, Edwards' investigative science work in the nation’s capital exposed elevated lead in drinking water, copper pinhole leaks, and agency scientific misconduct during the Washington, D.C., lead crisis in 2000-2004 and its aftermath. Edwards testified at a congressional hearing in 2004 after the Washington Post ran front-page stories on the lead crisis in the city at that time. Edwards's research changed the city's recommendations on water use in the city homes with lead service pipes. Edwards and his colleagues continued to study the long-term effects of the elevated water lead levels; their article "Elevated Blood Lead in Young Children Due to Lead-Contaminated Drinking Water” published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, won that publication's Editor's Choice Award for the best science paper of 2009.
Edwards was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2007. Among his numerous other accolades are the 2010 Praxis Award in Professional Ethics from Villanova University, a 2013 IEEE Carl Barus Award for Outstanding Service in the Public Interest, a 2016 Smithsonian Institution Innovation Award for Social Progress, and the President’s Medal from the American Society of Civil Engineers.
Edwards was included, alongside other Flint whistleblowers, on the shortlist for the TIME Person(s) of the Year in 2016. He was also named amongst TIME Magazine's 100 Most Influential People in the World 2016, the World's 50 Greatest Leaders by Fortune Magazine, Politico Magazine's Top 50 visionaries who have transformed American politics, and Foreign Policy Magazine's 100 World's Greatest Thinkers. He was co-recipient of the inaugural MIT Disobedience Award. Recently Edwards was awarded the 2018 Scientific Freedom and Responsibility Award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) for his efforts “to apply his engineering expertise to revealing dangerous levels of lead contamination in water supplies.” With his recently awarded EPA grant, Edwards continues his mission to mobilize a nationwide public health awareness via establishing one of the largest team of citizen scientists in U.S. history. Dr. Edwards’ must-attend opening Keynote, titled “The Flint Michigan Water Crisis: A Failure of Government at All Levels Reveals What a New Dark Age Would Look Like,” is scheduled Saturday, September 22, 2018, at 7:00 PM!
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