Clean-Water Advocate to Deliver 2016 Centennial Lecture

Marla Smith-Nilson at work with Water 1st International; image courtesy of the World Affairs Council

Marla Smith-Nilson, who received a bachelor's degree in civil engineering from the University of Arizona in 1991 and the Outstanding Young Alumni Award from the UA department of civil engineering and engineering mechanics in 2007, will offer the department's 2016 Centennial Lecture.

Her presentation will be held on Friday, Oct. 28, at noon in Room 211 of the Education Building, as part of CEEM's Homecoming celebration. 

Marla Smith-Nilson; image courtesy of www.humanosphere.orgSmith-Nilson, an advocate for clean water in impoverished areas, has implemented water sanitation projects in nearly 200 villages around the world since 1991. She currently serves as executive director of Water 1st International, a nonprofit organization that she founded in 2005. Under her leadership, Water 1st International has established 733 water systems in four countries.

In 2013, Smith-Nilson was featured in a Today Show segment honoring women making a difference in the world. In 2015, she was honored with the World Citizen Award from the World Affairs Council.

Smith-Nilson received the Flinn Scholarship in 1987, which gave her the opportunity to travel the world and helped to inspire her interest in water sanitation. While at the UA, she also served as president of the ASCE student chapter

The Centennial Lecture Series was founded in 2005 as part of CEEM's centennial celebration. The department invites distinguished speakers to present on campus every two years.

Top image courtesy of the World Affairs Council; bottom image courtesy of


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