Mairéad Whelan
MSc in Water Science, Policy, and Management,
University of Oxford (District 5360 and Rotary Club of Faringdon and District, England), 2019-20

Mairead Whelan is pursuing her MPhil in Water Science, Policy, and Management at the University of Oxford. Her academic interests lie in the intersection between water, the environment, and population health. She is especially interested in global health, and how clean water, water scarcity, and climate change-induced weather patterns influence the spread of water-related illness.

Mairead received her Bachelor of Health Sciences degree from the University of Calgary, majoring in Health and Society with a concentration in Political Science (Honours, First Class). Her interests in water and health began when she was selected to attend the Cumming School of Medicine Tanzania Field School, where she worked on several projects regarding environmental and animal health, sanitation, and diagnosing diarrheal disease. Mainly, she helped introduce BioSand Filters, a low-cost low-tech water treatment device, into remote Maasai homes bringing clean water to more than 100 families. Since being inspired by this experience, Mairead also was a lead student on several environmental health research projects, including a novel initiative from the Alberta Children’s Hospital evaluating injury risk in urban neighbourhoods for kids at play, and a thesis project on how we can use water management to prevent an outbreak of pandemic avian influenza (H5N1) in Vietnam.

Beyond her school work, Mairead enjoys bringing her passions for health, water, and advocacy outside the classroom. She is a workshop facilitator with the Centre for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology (CAWST), where she teaches elementary school children about the importance of clean water and handwashing. Additionally, she was an executive on several campus clubs, a member of the U of C Scholars Academy, the Cumming School of Medicine faculty representative on the University of Calgary Students’ Union, and contributed to a project advocating for the restoration of community fluoridation to Calgary’s City Council.
In her spare time, Mairead is a part-time artist, plays competitive soccer, and spends as much time as she can travelling and hiking in the Rocky Mountains. She is looking forward to her time at Oxford and a future career in the environmental or humanitarian sectors after her Master’s degree.
For more information about Mairéad, click here for her LinkedIn page.