ASU water expert named a 2023 MacArthur Fellow

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Amber Wutich, a water expert with two decades of research experience, has been selected as a 2023 MacArthur Fellow by the MacArthur Foundation.

The highly coveted fellowship, sometimes referred to as a “genius grant,” is awarded to talented individuals who have shown exceptional originality in and dedication to their creative pursuits.

Each fellowship comes with an $800,000 “no strings attached” stipend to be used by the awardee as they see fit. Wutich, ASU President’s Professor and Director of the Center for Global Health, is one of only three ASU faculty to receive the award.

Wutich said she is still learning exactly what it means to be a MacArthur fellow, but she understands the award comes with a generous check. Wutich’s work focuses on getting water to people in a more simplified way.

“There have been people around the world for many decades that have been trying to get water, and it turns out that because of climate change and infrastructure decay and climate migration, we’re expecting more and more people to be in this situation,” Wutich said.

Wutich works on solutions for people off the grid and for people whose “grid is not working for them.”

According to Wutich, fighting water insecurity is an uphill battle. This is because water provision is very expensive and water infrastructure needs maintenance. She said you can solve the problem, but in just a few years the solution must be maintained.

“My earliest work was in Cochabamba, Bolivia, right after their water war,” Wutich said. “One of the things I worked on with the community there was how layered approaches that have many sources of water are better for water-insecure communities.”

Amber Wutich, ASU President’s Professor and Director of the Center for Global Health, 2023 MacArthur Fellow

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