Ashok Gadgil wins inaugural Zuckerberg Water Prize
Ashok Gadgil, professor of civil and environmental engineering at UC Berkeley, has been named the inaugural winner of the 2022 Zuckerberg Water Prize by the Zuckerberg Institute of Water Research at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel.
The award, announced this week, comes with a $60,000 prize in recognition of Gadgil’s “outstanding leadership, vision, innovation and lasting global impact in the field of water.”
Gadgil, the Andrew and Virginia Rudd Family Foundation Distinguished Chair in Safe Water and Sanitation, is considered a true visionary and leader in the field of water research. For the past three decades, Gadgil has been identifying water challenges that pose adverse health and other human impacts; inventing robust, inclusive and affordable engineering technologies; and implementing them at scale to serve human health and development in remote, developing and resource-poor areas globally.
He also is widely recognized for his pioneering research in the field of development engineering, which combines engineering with disciplines such as economics, natural resources and social sciences, to create technologies that support humanitarian initiatives, like universal access to clean drinking water.
“[Ashok’s] projects reflect his broad interest in and concern about the quality of life of the millions of poor people on the planet,” said Karl van Bibber, executive associate dean of Berkeley Engineering in a letter supporting Gadgil’s nomination. “His criterion for selecting problems to solve is that if the solution is successful, it must positively impact the lives of at least 10 million people. To get to that level, the solution must not just be effective, it must be scalable and fit well within a viable model of affordability.”
Specifically, Gadgil has utilized multiple technologies to treat different water contaminants and developed these into viable, cost-efficient and globally deployed systems. Examples include UV Waterworks, an inexpensive system that uses ultraviolet light to disinfect water; technologies for effectively removing arsenic and fluoride from groundwater; a highly cost-efficient treatment of lead pipes to curb leaching; and a new method for removing chromate from contaminated groundwater.
These and other innovations reflect Gadgil’s career-long commitment to providing access to safe drinking water for all, a key goal in sustainable development. His research has resulted in numerous accolades, including the R&D 100 Award, the Prince Sultan Abdulaziz International Prize for Water, the Lemelson-MIT Award for Global Innovation, and recognition by NASA and USAID as One of the Top 10 Global Innovators for Water Technologies.
This award is made possible by a donation from Roy Zuckerberg, general partner and senior director at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. For more details, see the announcement on the Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research website.