Prof Wakhungu assumes leadership of one of the most critical dockets upon which future generations will judge President Uhuru Kenyatta’s first term in office.
The executive director of the African Centre for Technology Studies has to manage resources and reduce communal conflicts.
The ravaging impacts of climate change will likely put Prof Wakhungu on a collision course with communities and enterprises as she implements tough rules to protect the environment.
Most importantly, she holds responsibility of crafting a plan on how Mr Kenyatta’s government expects to deliver water to a large population currently grappling with scarcity.
“At the moment, the forests are under stress and most parts of the country are suffering from water shortage and scarcity,” she said upon her nomination on Thursday.
President Kenyatta’s bet for the job, an energy advisor to a number of international organisation including World Bank, was until recently an Associate Professor of Science, Technology, and Society at Pennsylvania State University.
She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in geology from St Lawrence University in New York, a Masters of Science degree in petroleum geology from Acadia University in Nova Scotia, Canada and a PhD in energy resources management from Pennsylvania State University.
A woman of many firsts, Prof Wakhungu became the first woman geologist in the Ministry of Energy and later the first female petroleum geologist at the National Oil Corporation of Kenya. She was also the first female faculty member in the Department of Geology at the University of Nairobi.