Siddhartha Roy

Environmental engineer
Siddhartha Roy is an environmental engineer and research scientist, who works at the nexus of drinking water, public health and environmental justice. He and his team helped uncover the Flint, Michigan Water Crisis.

Why you should listen

Perennially distracted, Siddhartha Roy spent his graduate school years studying failures in drinking water infrastructure (leaky pipes), lamenting the way the water industry communicates with the American public and writing about the rise of perverse incentives in research academia. He also serves as the Student Leader of the research team that used citizen science, laboratory experiments, field sampling, investigative journalism and social media to expose the Flint Water Crisis. These efforts led to a declaration of a national public health emergency by President Barack Obama in January 2016, garnered more than $1.2 billion in relief for Flint residents and informed a long overdue debate on "safe" water in America.

Roy is incredulous that quoting a free conference T-shirt in 2014 made him the "Future of Water." He has taken a step back and is now merely a "Rising Star of the Water Industry." He suspects Virginia Tech awarded him their 2017 Graduate Student of the Year award not for his "selfless service contributions and commitment to citizen scholarship," as they claim, but to deter him from spending long hours at cafes staring into space and get back in the laboratory instead. Roy also specializes in speaking with reporters for hours and ensuring only his cusswords get quoted, like this WIRED magazine piece.’s Chip Giller notes that Roy "speaks with conviction, passion and focus" but had Giller paid close attention, he would not have missed Roy’s talents as an accomplished "lead magician."

Roy grew up in India and received his PhD in Civil/Environmental Engineering from Virginia Tech. Find out more about his work and writings here.

Siddhartha Roy’s TED talk