student : Christopher HyunMA, PhD

Through whatever I do, I want to help 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 have recently published about my study on street-level bureaucracy of intermittent water supply in India (where I followed water valvemen around by foot and bike). I also recently submitted 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 helped start 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 couple fiction writing workshops on campus (I wish the text in this profile reflected this, but I just don’t have time right now). I enjoy chai with friends from Berkeley to Bangalore. Feel free to AMA via Twitter or LinkedIn, especially LGBTQ+ and APA/POC.

Current Projects

  • Capacity building and participation in urban sanitation of India
  • Socio-technical transitions of sanitation and governance in South Asia, a multi-level perspective
  • A critical perspective of decentralization and decentralized systems of sanitation
  • Governance of stormwater green infrastructure in New York City, a social-environmental systems (SES) approach
  • An online platform for urban environmental/sanitation planning


  • Hyun, Christopher, Zachary Burt, Yoshika Crider, Kara Nelson, Sharada C.S. Prasad, Swati Rayasam, William Tarpeh, and Isha Ray. (in press) “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

  • 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.

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