Campus News

UGA awards sustainability grants to fund student projects

Athens, Ga. – The University of Georgia Office of Sustainability has awarded $28,000 to fund nine interdisciplinary student projects through its annual Campus Sustainability Grants Program. The program, funded by student green fees, provides financial and staff resources to implement student-initiated projects that further the university’s sustainability goals.

The office received 27 well-developed project proposals from students in various academic disciplines from agriculture and ecology to engineering and international affairs. A selection committee of students, faculty and staff made the final recommendations for projects to be awarded in 2014. Student projects that received funding align with UGA’s 2020 Strategic Plan to promote stewardship of natural resources and advance sustainability research, education and service at UGA and beyond.

Recipients of the 2014 Campus Sustainability Grants are as follows:

Outdoor Solar Charging Station for Personal Electronic Devices
Elizabeth Crute and Katie Dean, environmental engineering students in the UGA College of Engineering, are teaming up with Brian Holcombe, an anthropology major, to design and install the Outdoor Solar Charging Station for Personal Electronic Devices. The project will provide opportunities for solar energy education and research, as well as enable more students to work, study or simply use the Internet outdoors.

Public Bike Repair Stations
Joseph Robinson, a graduate student in the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, plans to install public bicycle repair stations on the UGA Athens campus. The stations are designed to promote the culture of cycling and sustainability at UGA by allowing for more user friendly self-care of bicycles.

Waste? NOT! Pilot Composting Program in a UGA Residence Hall
Diana Downward, Levares Jackson, Wendy Lam, and Valerie Martinez de Ubago, all freshmen participating in the Global Engagement Learning Community, plan to implement a pilot composting program in a residence hall. The project team will apply the simple adage of “each one teach one” to encourage their peers to reduce waste and improve their communities through composting.

UGArden Keyhole Garden Diversity Project
Sarah Bess Jones, a senior anthropology major, will install three “keyhole” gardens at the UGArden learning and demonstration farm to teach alternative means of sustainable agriculture. The keyhole gardens will replicate a simple design that is commonly used to alleviate food insecurity internationally to challenge the traditional, linear agricultural model and facilitate students learning about innovative sustainable solutions.

UGA Bulldog Bikes Program Expansion
Sahana Srivatsan, a junior international affairs major in the UGA School of Public and International Affairs, seeks to create an avid bike community and culture on campus through expansion of the Bulldog Bikes bike-sharing program. The project intends to reduce carbon emissions through alternative transportation and promote a healthy and active lifestyle.

Terrell Hall Renovations
Davidson Goldsmith, a junior studying history and political science, is teaming up with students on the Georgia Recruitment Team to promote UGA’s commitment to sustainability in the UGA Office of Admissions. The project will add a water bottle filling station to reduce plastic bottle waste, signage to communicate sustainability initiatives at UGA and other features to help establish a culture of sustainability as part of the first impression for prospective UGA students and their families.

Validation of Wireless Charging Electric Vehicle Technology
Yabiao Gao and Christopher Mershon, doctoral and undergraduate students respectively in the UGA College of Engineering, will conduct research to validate and advance wireless electric vehicle charging technology. The project will evaluate emerging technologies aimed at making electric vehicle charging easier and safer.

Water Quality on Campus and Beyond: Using Service Learning to Monitor & Improve Water Quality
Keri Lydon, a doctoral student in the department of environmental health sciences, plans to address water quality in campus streams by incorporating service-learning within the current Environmental Health Science curriculum to expand bacterial monitoring efforts in partnership with Upper Oconee Watershed Network, also known as UOWN. In addition to performing water quality monitoring, students will engage in outreach efforts to enhance awareness of sustainability initiatives on campus and in the local community and seek to get more people involved in improving our impaired waters.

UGA Bicycle Co-operative
Shafkat Khan, a doctoral student in the Odum School of Ecology, plans to establish a bicycle co-operative to help UGA students with bicycle maintenance and repair. Through partnership with Bike Athens and regular events on the UGA campus, the co-operative will teach bike maintenance skills, encourage students to use their bikes more often and promote a culture of sustainability by building an active student community around biking.

The Campus Sustainability Grants Program has helped foster several ongoing UGA initiatives. Since its inception in 2010, the Office of Sustainability has awarded a total of $87,000 to fund twenty-six student-initiated sustainability projects at UGA.

Kevin Kirsche, director of the Office of Sustainability, said the grant program is a great way for students to learn valuable grant-writing skills and to make a tangible difference on campus and in the local community.

“The Campus Sustainability Grants Program is an opportunity to learn by doing,” he said. “It is a pleasure to work with such bright UGA students from diverse academic backgrounds and to help them take their innovative ideas from concept to completion.”

For more information on Campus Sustainability Grants and other initiatives of the UGA Office of Sustainability, see