2016 Idea Lab: Drinking water

How can we ensure a safe, sustainable, and affordable future in the United States?

Why Water?

Aging infrastructure, droughts, and environmental contaminants are stressing water systems everywhere. Moreover, the recent crisis in Flint, Michigan is a reminder that we can’t take our water for granted. It is imperative to plan for a future of safe, sustainable and affordable drinking water.

Why collaborate?

A practical water future requires balancing tradeoffs between social, economic, environmental, and health factors. Insights from many fields can help inform the balance of these factors. Effective implementation demands collaboration among stakeholders with different perspectives and interests.


We are uniquely poised to tap expertise from multiple campuses and communities to identify opportunities for innovation in water systems. Our National Forum Series will identify key trends, opportunities and challenges and lead to a series of proposals at both the local and national levels.

We've finished our third year! Read about all that we've accomplished this past year.


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Melanie Roberts

ELISS Founder and Director
Melanie Roberts is a strategic consultant specializing in engagement of scientists and engineers in policy; design of interdisciplinary and translational programs; professional development for scientists and engineers; and cross sector partnerships.
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Renske Erion

ELISS Program Director
ELISS’ mission resonated with Renske as a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania wanting to make a greater impact outside of the lab. Renske is passionate about working on complex challenges including how to better prepare graduate students to be change makers in the 21st century.

Quotes that inspire us

ELISS is a pilot program hosted by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), a 501(c)3 scientific society in Washington, D.C. and publisher of Science magazine.