Marc Edwards, a professor in the Charles E. Via, Jr. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering in the College of Engineering, and team have received the university’s 2016 Alumni Award for Outreach Excellence.

With support from the Virginia Tech Alumni Association, the Alumni Award for Outreach Excellence is presented annually to recognize outstanding contributions by Virginia Tech faculty members who have extended the university’s outreach mission throughout the commonwealth, the nation, and the world. Recipients are nominated by their peers, receive a $2,000 cash prize, and are inducted into the university’s Academy of Outreach Excellence.

Edwards, the Charles Lunsford Professor for Civil and Environmental Engineering, and his research team, comprised of students, research scientists and faculty, have provided long-term outreach activities to issues of national importance over the past 14 years.

Most recently, Edwards and his team brought national attention and provided outreach assistance to the Flint, Michigan water crisis in 2015. Edwards’ efforts resulted in President Obama declaring a Public Health Emergency.

For their outreach programs, The Flint Water Study Team conducted water samplings, assembled 300 lead testing kits, created an educational sampling process for elementary students, and partnered with Wateryoufightingfor - a grassroots organization concerned about the Flint water problems.

“By coming to Flint and working in partnership with residents to conduct direct sampling, and then analyzing samples from 277 homes that were collected by citizen activists, the Flint Water Study Team worked tirelessly on a groundbreaking study that would ultimately refute official claims that the water was safe and met federal standards,” wrote Curt Guyette, investigative reporter for the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, in a letter of nomination.

The team’s outreach program with elementary students in Grand Blanc, Michigan taught the students about the corrosivity of Flint River Water. The students sent weekly water samples and noted down their observations of water samples taken from both Flint and Detroit, further corroborating the team’s initial findings.

The Flint Water Study Team: undergraduate students, Madeleine Brouse, Margaret Carolan, Sara Chergaoui, Matthew Dowdle, Kim Hughes, Rebecca Jones, and Alison Vick; graduate students, Christian Devine, emily Garner, Catherine Grey, Pan Ji, Anurag Mantha, Rebekah Martin, Jake Metch, Victoria Nystrom, Kelsey Pieper, Colin Richards, William Rhoads, Siddhartha Roy, Laurel Strom, Owen Strom, Min Tang, and Ni Zhu; Post-docs/research Scientists, Brandi Clark, Dongjuan Dai, Sheldon Masters, Jeffrey Parks, Kelsey Pieper, David Schwake, and Fei Wang; Principal Investigators, Marc Edwards, Amy Pruden, and Joseph Falkinham.

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