DURHAM, N.C. – Marc Edwards, the civil engineering professor whose investigative science and advocacy helped expose the Flint Water Crisis, will present a free public lecture at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment on Monday, April 9.

Edwards’ talk, “Truth-Seeking in an Age of Tribalism: Lessons from the Flint Water Crisis,” will be at 6 p.m. at Love Auditorium in the Levine Science Research Center on Duke’s West Campus. It is the 2018 Ferguson Family Distinguished Lectureship in the Environment and Society.

A Q&A with audience members will follow.

Edwards is the Charles Lunsford Professor of Civil Engineering at Virginia Tech, where he conducts research on drinking water contamination, water treatment and corrosion.

In 2015, after being contacted by a concerned mother of two from Flint, Michigan, he assembled a team of more than 40 researchers to help Flint residents conduct an unprecedented survey of water contamination in their homes. The samples his team collected revealed high levels of lead and harmful bacteria, such as Legionella, in the residents’ water, contradicting official reports that the city’s drinking water supply was safe. Information gleaned from Freedom of Information Act requests submitted by his team revealed a persistent pattern of misconduct by several government agencies trying to cover up the crisis.  

His role in uncovering the Flint crisis resulted in Edwards being named as one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the World, Fortune magazine’s World’s 50 Greatest Leaders, and Politico magazine’s Top 50 Visionaries. He was short-listed for Time’s Person of the Year honor in 2016, and received the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Award for Scientific Freedom and Responsibility in 2018.
Before Flint, he spent more than a dozen years exposing similar problems related to lead contamination in the drinking water supply in Washington, D.C.

Edwards has received numerous honors in recognition of his scholarship and service to society, including a MacArthur Fellowship in 2007 and a Presidential Faculty Fellowship from the White House in 1996. In 2013, he was awarded the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ prestigious Barus Award for “courageously defending the public interest at great personal risk.”

The Ferguson Family Distinguished Lectureship is presented annually by the Nicholas School to bring to Duke major thought-leaders to speak on topics of significant social and environmental import.  Past speakers have included EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, former Vice President Al Gore Jr., and energy visionary Amory Lovins.

Other sponsors of this year’s Ferguson Lecture include the School of Law, Sanford School of Public Policy, and the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions.

A light reception will precede Edward’s talk at 5:15 p.m. in the Hall of Science, located adjacent to Love Auditorium.