"Science in service to the public good"

"Science in service to the public good"

"We give scientists and engineers great technical training, but we're not as good at teaching ethical decision-making or building character. Take, for example, the environmental crisis that recently unfolded in Flint, Michigan — and the professionals there who did nothing to fix it.

Siddhartha Roy helped prove that Flint's water was contaminated, and he tells a story of science in service to the public good, calling on the next generation of scientists and engineers to dedicate their work to protecting people and the planet. WATCH NOW THIS GREAT TED TALK . 

Siddhartha Roy - Environmental engineer

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

Why you should listen

Perennially distracted, Siddhartha Roy has spent the last five 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 $600 million 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 is currently a PhD candidate in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Virginia Tech. Find out more about his work and writings here.


In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TED has created a program called TEDx. TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. Our event is called TEDxKlagenfurt, where x = independently organized TED event. At our TEDxKlagenfurt event, TEDTalks video and live speakers will combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events, including ours, are self-organized.

More about TEDx:


TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. Started as a conference in California 1984, TED has grown to support those world-changing ideas with many initiatives.

TED to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less). TED began as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and today covers almost all topics — from science to business to global issues — in more than 100 languages. 

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In fact, everything we do — from our TED Talks videos to the projects sparked by the TED Prize, from the global TEDx community to the TED-Ed lesson series — is driven by this goal: How can we best spread great ideas?

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