Xiaoyuan (Charlene) Ren

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Xiaoyuan (Charlene) Ren

2016 Global Fellow
Founder of MyH2O

Xiaoyuan (Charlene) Ren 2016 Global Fellow

Bold Idea 

Drive transparency and civic engagement to decrease water pollution in China by training a youth-led water testing network and launching an interactive platform to motivate clean water solutions.

Multimedia 


One of MyH2O’s local field work teams from Yunnan University, out in the fields of a minority group region Xishuangbanna in China, collecting the water samples from a local well for further testing. Photo courtesy of Xingyuan Jiang.


MyH2O’s local field teams from Dalian University collecting water samples and recording water quality data. Photo courtesy of Dalian University team.

Summary 

Pollution of drinking water is a serious issue in China, yet due to the lack of pollution visibility, it’s frequently neglected. MyH2O’s Water Mapping Network was established to tackle this problem. Through a nationwide water testing network of well-trained youths and an interactive information visualization platform, MyH2O gives the public easy access to water info and connects regions with water safety concerns to clean water solutions. With one of the first professional crowdsourcing networks on water quality, MyH2O aims to prompt water risk awareness, increase information transparency, and motivate citizen solutions through independent reports of water quality.

Experience 

Charlene Ren received her BA in physics from Vassar College and founded MyH2O during her dual master’s study in environmental engineering/technology & policy at MIT. She’s a proud vegetarian and environmentalist. She joined the China Youth Climate Action Network (CYCAN) in 2011, and has helped organize the annual International Youth Summit on Energy and Climate Change several times. In 2014, with the help of CYCAN and a class from MIT’s D-Lab, she initiated MyH2O, a water quality mapping network in China, and has since built a network of over 30 university water testing teams and collected over 2,000 water data points across China. Her graduate research on identifying water monitoring and governance bottlenecks for rural India also inspired the advancement of MyH2O and its potential expansion to India. Charlene is also an enthusiastic leader in other social causes. She actively supports feminism, and promotes the health of body and mind on campus. Her long-term goal is making a safe and clean environment a possibility for everyone in China through systematic management and community participation.

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