Conferences & Symposia

Cloudy with a Chance of Solutions: The Future of Water

Cloudy with a Chance of Solutions: The Future of Water

The Radcliffe Institute’s annual science symposium will focus on the important and challenging topic of water. Water is a theme that encompasses issues as varied as environmental contamination, public health, agricultural shortages, and geopolitical disputes. “Cloudy with a Chance of Solutions: The Future of Water” will focus on the ecological and human health hazards of environmental contaminants, the threats to drinking water of fracking, the promise of new technologies for water treatment, the need for national water policy, and the role of urban and other areas in conservation. The majority of the talks will focus on the “hard science” of water-related issues; others will offer the perspectives of experts from the policy, business, or urban-planning worlds to put the scientific discussions in a broader context and to link them thematically.

The event is free and open to the public. 



8:00 AM

Registration opens


9:00 AM

Welcoming Remarks: Lizabeth Cohen and Joan Ruderman


9:15 AM

Menachem Elimelech, Yale University

"The Future of Seawater Desalination"

Introduced by Chad Vecitis, assistant professor of Environmental Engineering, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University


10:00 AM

Bruce E. Rittmann, Arizona State University

"Water as Part of the Solution to Renewable Biofuel, Not a Roadblock"

Introduced by Peter Girguis, John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Natural Sciences, Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University


10:45 AM

Break and poster session 


11:15 AM

Martin V. Melosi, University of Houston

"Water is Not the Next Oil"

Introduced by Sheila Jasanoff, Pforzheimer Professor of Science and Technology Studies and director of the Program on Science, Technology and Society at the Harvard Kennedy School 


12:00 PM

Charles Tyler, University of Exeter, United Kingdom

"Impacts of Environmental Endocrine Disruptors and Other Emerging Contaminants on Fish and Fish Populations"

Introduced by Joan Ruderman


12:45 PM

Time to view poster session (boxed lunches for all attendees)


2:00 PM

Patricia Hunt, Washington State University

"Are Environmental Contaminants Affecting Your Reproductive Health?"

Introduced by Russ Hauser, Frederick Lee Hisaw Professor of Reproductive Physiology, Department of Environmental Health, Department of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health


2:45 PM

Sandra Steingraber, Ecologist and Author

"Fracking Our Water: Emerging Threats to Drinking Water in an Age of Extreme Fossil Fuel Extraction"

Introduced by Tamarra James-Todd, Instructor in Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital


3:30 PM

Break and poster session


4:00 PM

Gerald E. Galloway, University of Maryland, College Park

"Dealing with the Whole: The Need for National Water Policy"

Introduced by John Briscoe, Gordon McKay Professor of the Practice of Environmental Engineering and Environmental Health, Harvard University; director, Harvard Water Security Initiative


4:45 PM

Closing Remarks: Peter P. RogersGordon McKay Professor of Environmental Engineering, Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and faculty associate, Harvard University Center for the Environment


5:00 PM

Reception and poster session