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Student Spotlight: Ian Crowley on Water Filtration in Gabon

During the 2016-2017 academic year, a group of students from the Stamps School teamed up to prototype a water filtration system made from sawdust and clay in the Stamps ceramics studio under the guidance of studio coordinator John Leyland and professor Joe Trumpey.

Over the summer, the student team — made up of Ian Crowley (BFA ’18), Maggie Lemak (BFA '18), Jack Hyland (BFA '18), and Kira Appleman (BA '18) — took the water filters to communities in Gabon and taught people about the concept, making process, and how to keep the filters clean and sanitary. A few filters were left behind as gifts.

Crowley had been to Gabon one time previously with professor Joe Trumpey’s Eco-Explorer’s course. There, he saw firsthand the need for improved water sanitation to mitigate illnesses caused by contaminated drinking water. The entire team shared his concern and sought to take action.

Recently, Crowley sat down with the U-M News Service to talk about the filters and what he’s learned through his work with communities in Gabon.

“It was incredibly eye-opening to go overseas and work with a culture that’s so different from my own,” Crowley said. “I don’t think I could’ve learned this any other way.”