Isha Ray

Research Expertise and Interest

Water and development; Sanitation and development; gender; technology and society

Research Description

Professor Ray’s research interests are water, sanitation and development; water and gender; technology and development; and common property resources. Her research projects focus on access to water and sanitation for the rural and urban poor, and on the role of technology in improving livelihoods. She teaches courses on research methods in the social sciences, water and development, technology and development, and community-driven development. In addition to research and teaching, she has extensive past and ongoing experience in the non-profit sector on sustainable development, water, and gender equality. 

In the News

Study Finds Potentially Dangerous Levels of Arsenic in Prison Drinking Water

A new study led by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, and Virginia Tech is one of the first to analyze how incarcerated individuals in California may be impacted by arsenic-contaminated water. The study analyzed 20 years of water quality data from prisons where arsenic levels in the water supply exceeded regulatory limits for months or even years at a time.

Latino communities have higher nitrate levels in drinking water

San Joaquin Valley communities with large Latino populations are exposed to disproportionately high levels of the agricultural chemical nitrate through their drinking water, according to a UC Berkeley study. When ingested via drinking water, nitrate can lead to numerous health problems, particularly among women and young children.

Featured in the Media

Please note: The views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or positions of UC Berkeley.
January 29, 2019
Lindzi Wessel
More than 2 billion people around the world lack access to safe drinking water, and very little progress has been made solving the problem. One of the issues is that while there are ways that householders can make their water potable, the effort or time required is a hindrance. Associate energy and resources professor Isha Ray, co-director of the Berkeley Water Center, points out that in areas where people are poor and already overworked, the extra steps required to clean water properly can be daunting. Expressing doubt that she could do any better in the same circumstances, she says: "One thing we know from the social sciences is people are not all the time driven only and exclusively by health considerations. ... Every single person I know has a gym membership they don't use, including myself," so it's not realistic to expect a person with fewer resources and more daily chores to take on additional water-treatment jobs. Carrying and treating water can be a "painful chore that has to be repeated every day," she says, and it's one that's typically left to women. "And that means her body is acting as infrastructure, covering for a piece of pipe."
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