Newswise — NORMAN, OKLA. -- Cultural anthropologist Dawn Martin-Hill, Ph.D., has been named the 2022 University of Oklahoma International Water Prize recipient for her commitment to improving water security for the people of the Six Nations of the Grand River, the largest Native reserve in Canada.

Martin-Hill, an associate professor at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, was recognized at the OU International WaTER Symposium for her contributions to understanding how water quality and security are linked to Indigenous community culture, livelihood and health.

Jim Chamberlain, Ph.D., interim director of the OU WaTER Center, says “Dr. Martin-Hill is deeply committed to bringing water to the underserved in North America. We had five excellent nominees for this prize and a panel of her peers determined that Dr. Martin-Hill’s work stood out as exemplary and representative of the WaTER Center’s mission to bring water and sanitation to communities in need.”

The symposium brings together a group of expert panelists from across the world with multiple disciplines whose work is based on the U.N. Sustainable Development Goal of providing water security to emerging regions. They nominate and select a prize recipient who is honored at the following year’s conference and awarded a waterdrop sculpture and $25,000.

Martin-Hill’s research examines the impact of contamination and water scarcity on humans, fish and wildlife at Six Nations of the Grand River. She says the community’s water treatment plant pipeline reaches only 10% of the community, yet the reservation is surrounded by major cities Toronto, Hamilton and Brantford, she says.

“Those cities have access to clean water and we do not. I would like to see that changed,” Martin-Hill said.

OU senior vice president and provost André-Denis Wright, Ph.D., gave opening remarks at the virtual symposium. During his speech, he noted that he has both professional and personal appreciation for the work done by the OU WaTER Center.

“The International Water Prize makes OU unique in that it honors someone in the field of water who specifically works on water security on behalf of disadvantaged communities in the U.S. and abroad. I was born and raised in one of those disadvantaged communities outside of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. I was 16 before we had running water in our home – indoor plumbing, steady electricity and public transport. My mom carried water daily from a well that we shared with five other families,” Wright said.  

Martin-Hill will give the address at the International WaTER Conference set for Sept. 26-28, 2022, in Norman, Oklahoma (USA). 

Learn more about previous recipients and the Gallogly College of Engineering Water Center at the University of Oklahoma.