On Friday, February 10, Sara Marks successfully passed the oral defense of her dissertation entitled “Water System Sustainability in Rural Sub-Saharan Africa: Participation, Sense of Ownership, and Performance.” Sara began her PhD while I was a postdoc at Stanford University and following my relocation to Virginia Tech, I became a member of her doctoral committee. An innovative component of Sara’s research is how she adapted and applied the idea of psychological ownership in the rural water sector. Over the past two decades, many researchers have associated the performance of rural water supply systems with a community’s sense of ownership for their system, but no research has been undertaken to try and quantify this phenomenon. Sara’s research provides an important contribution in this area and lays the foundation for a productive research career. Her main research findings will be published in a series of papers that should be available later this year.
The photos of Sara (below) were taken in Senegal in 2009, when she was supporting a research project on the productive use of domestic water in rural communities.