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    Virginia Tech
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Edwards, a MacArthur “genius” grant recipient, is one of the nation’s top experts on water contamination—and nowhere has his impact been bigger than in Flint, Mich. In August, Edwards and a team of researchers made the 11-hour bus ride from Virginia to Flint. There, the group acted as scientists, journalists, and advocates, collecting hundreds of water samples, filing Freedom of Information Act requests, and updating the public through a blog. Edwards’s team proved that Flint’s water supply was poisoning its residents­—triggering state and federal intervention and a nationwide debate over water safety.