Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Visit from Jenna Davis of Stanford's "Poop Group"

Friday, April 27, was a busy day for Dr. Jennifer "Jenna" Davis, as she was shuttled from one meeting or seminar to another at OU, talking about her favorite human resource. Davis, Assistant Professor at Stanford University, is the faculty adviser to the Poop Group and a co-founder and faculty lead of the Water, Health & Development program at Stanford University. Her research and teaching focuses on the interface of engineered water supply and sanitation systems and their users in developing countries.
Davis at work on one of her many international field sites.
Davis holds an MSPH and PhD from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has a background in public health, infrastructure planning, and environmental science & engineering. She teaches undergraduate- and graduate-level courses in water and sanitation planning, the theory and practice of sustainability, quantitative methods, and multidisciplinary research design. Her research explores questions related to the role of water and sanitation investment in economic development and public health, assessing users' felt needs and preferences for public services, alternative institutional arrangements for public service provision, and determinants of infrastructure sustainability. Over the past 15 years her group has carried out applied research in more than a dozen developing countries, including Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, and Bangladesh.

A street art exhibition by the German Toilet Organization 
in Lausanne, Switzerland, in 2006.

While on campus, Davis shared her personal and professional insights with WaTER Center graduate students, directors, and research staff who are engaged in similar research pathways. In the developing countries of Asia and Africa, two out of every ten people have no improved water supply service, and half of the population lacks access to even the most basic sanitation services. The high cost of installing modern water and sewer networks means that effort to expand access for these rapidly growing, low-income populations will rely principally on “non-networked” options, such as shared water points and household latrines. A variety of such technologies exist, but their widespread use creates unique challenges for environmental, institutional, and public health planning from the household to the watershed scale. Dr. Davis' seminar at OU presented work carried out by her research group in South Asia, Africa, and Latin America that quantifies the costs and impacts of non-networked service provision, and that tests program and policy interventions designed to accelerate access to, and enhance sustainability of, improved water and sanitation services in resource-constrained communities.

Dr. Davis presents her OU seminar on
costs and impacts of non-networked water and sewer.

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