Tom Darrah has been named the new executive director of The Ohio State University Global Water Institute, succeeding Marty Kress, who launched GWI in 2016 and is retiring at the end of June.
Darrah, who joined Ohio State in 2013, is a faculty member in the School of Earth Sciences and an affiliated faculty member of the Sustainability Institute. He is an internationally recognized scholar with interests in issues concerning the water-energy nexus, water and health, and noble-gas geochemistry. He received the National Ground Water Association’s 2018 John Hem Award for Excellence in Science and Engineering in “recognition of significant contributions to the understanding of groundwater.”
In July 2019, GWI operations were transferred to the College of Engineering, with the intent of broadening its already impressive mission and reach. It features a wide array of externally-focused applied research programs, transformational international educational activities, and outreach and engagement related to rural water access and governance, water quality, and health. Lives are being transformed through GWI’s efforts in Africa, which involve faculty and students from across the university. Its teams are currently working in 16 Tanzanian villages to secure clean water for more than 100,000 people. In February, the MacArthur Foundation announced GWI submitted one of the highest-scoring proposals in its 100&Change competition for a single $100 million grant. If announced the winner later this year, GWI would provide sustainable village water systems, renewable energy, and sanitation to 250 villages and over 1.25 million people.
“We’re delighted to have Tom follow in Marty’s very successful footsteps,” said College of Engineering Dean David B. Williams. “GWI has evolved beyond a research initiative into an international outreach endeavor, and that’s why it fits so well in our college and with our students and faculty.”
According to Darrah, GWI will continue to develop sustainable water supplies, with a focus on vulnerable populations. New directions include developing innovative strategies for the mitigation of water-related problems. These include developing and implementing novel approaches and technologies to bring new sources of water online, to minimize the negative environmental and health impacts of poor water quality, and to innovate solutions to adapt to climate change through GWI initiatives and collaborations with other Ohio State teams.