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Kathleen O’Reilly is a Professor in the Department of Geography and Texas A&M University Presidential Impact Fellow. Before joining TAMU in 2006, she served on the faculty of the University of Illinois Urbana- Champaign (Geography, 2 years) and was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Kentucky (Geography, 2 years). She has more than 25 years of experience in designing, managing, and building multidisciplinary teams to conduct research on gender, water and sanitation (WASH) interventions in rural and urban India; her embeddedness in Indian society facilitates an in-depth understanding of internal community and household dynamics. She is trained as a feminist geographer, ethnographer, and South Asia scholar, with a focus on human-environment interactions as they pertain to gendered access to resources, including: natural resources (e.g., water); infrastructure (e.g., latrines); and sources of power, both formal (e.g., community-level governance) and informal (e.g, decision-making within households). Her work on India's WASH interventions includes: 1) from implementation to post-project stability; 2) evaluating success and sustainability; 3) open defecation practices; and 4) potential of latrine access to alleviate women and girls' psychosocial stress. She has directly investigated the implications of changing water resource governance and inadequate sanitationfor marginal groups, particularly women and lowest castes. Her research highlights the need to understand the complexities of social relations and the importance of intersectionality as they pertain to spatial patterns of infrastructure distribution and access, due to their critical role in the adoption of sanitation, gender equality, and drinking water governance in the global south. Dr. O’Reilly’s research has been funded by, among others: a National Science Foundation CAREER Award (US); Sanitation and Hygiene Applied Research for Equity (UK) and the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (UNOPS); and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (US). The BMGF-sponsored project on successful sanitation produced the 'Toilet Tripod' as a replicable framework for evaluating existing sanitation conditions/projects, and the design of new ones suited to specific implementation contexts (O’Reilly and Louis, 2014).
Specialist Areas of Work