People / Alumni

Christopher Hyun

Shit, Now What? Overcoming the Struggles of History, Inequity, Infrastructure, and Capacity to Achieve Sanitation for All (PhD ’20)

My Bio (for prospective ERG students)

Through whatever I do, I want to create a better society and a better environment. Though I’ve been involved in a variety of projects in the water and sanitation sector, I recently published a cross-disciplinary review of sanitation in low-income countries (with seven other wonderful co-authors!). My current research is focused on capacity building, sanitation planning, and sustainable technological transitions in cities of low-income regions—the fieldwork for which has taken me from the small towns of Odisha to the big city of Bangalore, the Silicon Valley of India.

I have over a decade of experience in South Asia, working on water, sanitation, pollution, culture, religion, and development, particularly in the Ganges River Basin in Varanasi, India (रांड़, सांड़, सीढ़ी संन्यासी। इनसे बचै तो सेवे काशी।). I’ve worked with a number of NGOs on capacity building, education, and watershed and waste management. I have an M.A. from my first two years at ERG as well as an M.Sc. in Environmental Science from Banaras Hindu University (long story). I passed my qualification exam (quals) and I’m currently a PhD candidate with a designated emphasis in Development Engineering, planning to submit my dissertation by May 2020.

I’m a co-founder of ERG’s queer group (QuERGies) and our internet and social media committee (ERG Online or ERGO). I’m also involved with our student advocacy committee for equity and inclusion (SACEI). Currently, I am a professional liaison of the Graduate Professional program of UC Berkeley’s Graduate Division. I also produce the ERG Spotlight videos. I have helped put together Bollywood dances for the ERG talent show every year since I joined ERG and have taken a few fiction writing workshops on campus. I enjoy chai with friends from Berkeley to Bangalore. Feel free to AMA via Twitter or LinkedIn, especially LGBTQ+ and APA/POC.

Current Projects

  • [Book Chapter] Engineering predictable water? How to understand the humans that make tech innovations work, in Introduction to Development Engineering (forthcoming in Fall 2020)
  • [Paper] Splintering & decentralization: How history fought for sanitation for all and “lost”
  • [Paper] Sh*t—now what? Can capacity building and participation solve all our problems?
  • [Proposal] Project Development Lab for Circular Sanitation Systems in Haiti
  • [Paper] Governance of stormwater green infrastructure in New York City, a social-environmental systems approach


  • Hyun, Christopher, Zachary Burt, Yoshika Crider, Kara Nelson, Sharada C.S. Prasad, Swati Rayasam, William Tarpeh, and Isha Ray. (2019) “Sanitation in low-income countries: A cross-disciplinary review.” Annual Review of Environment and Resources.
  • Hyun, Christopher, Alison E. Post, and Isha Ray. (2018) “Frontline worker compliance with transparency reforms: Barriers posed by family and financial responsibilities.” Governance 31.1: 65-83. (formerly “Why Street Level Bureaucrats Don’t Comply: Insights from the Water Valvemen of Bangalore”)
  • Post, Alison E., Anustubh Agnihotri, and Christopher Hyun. (2018) “Using Crowd-Sourced Data to Study Public Services: Lessons from Urban India.” Studies in Comparative International Development 53.3: 324-342.

Fellowships and Research Funding

  • Dissertation-Year Fellow
  • NSF InFEWS (Innovations at the Nexus of Food, Energy, and Water Systems) Fellow
  • Obama-Singh Initiative funding for fieldwork
  • Development Impact Lab (USAID) funding for fieldwork
  • Institute for International Studies Pre-Dissertation Research Grant for fieldwork
  • Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowships



See related news article from the University of California here.