UGA awards sustainability grants to seven student projects

Athens, Ga. – The University of Georgia Office of Sustainability has awarded $26,000 to seven student projects as part of its annual Campus Sustainability Grants Program. The program, funded by student green fees, provides financial and staff resources to implement projects that further the university’s sustainability initiatives.

Now in its third year, the Campus Sustainability Grants Program has helped foster several initiatives, including water bottle refilling stations in the Miller Learning Center, “Dawgs Ditch the Dumpster” residence hall move-out donation program, Tanyard Creek Chew Crew prescribed grazing project for invasive plant removal and Material Reuse Program, which uses salvaged items to construct school and community gardens. To date, the Office of Sustainability has awarded a total of $59,000 to fund 17 student-initiated sustainability projects at UGA.

“The Campus Sustainability Grants Program is an opportunity to learn by doing,” said Kevin Kirsche, director of the Office of Sustainability. “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.”

Recipients of the 2013 Campus Sustainability Grants are as follows.

Tawfiq Bhuiyan of Salt Lake City, Utah, a master’s student in the College of Engineering, will focus on curbing poor water quality from storm runoff through the use of pervious concrete pavements. Bhuiyan will construct a pervious concrete pavement test site and use tests for compressive strength, durability, porosity (drain time) and water quality to gain a better understanding of its technological aspects and to address sociological barriers that have limited the use of this material.

Aaron Joslin of Oak Ridge, Tenn., a doctoral student in the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources; Greg Skupien of Hickory Hills, Ill., a master’s student in Odum School of Ecology; and Holly Campbell of Atlanta, a master’s student also in the Warnell School, will work to reduce the volume and mass of solid waste at UGA. The group plans to implement a pilot program to collect organic, compostable waste in the Warnell School and deliver it to the UGArden for composting.

Alexandra “Allie” Brown of Atlanta, a senior anthropology major in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences; Tyler Faby of Athens, a finance major in the Terry College of Business; and a team of engineering students aim to aid the university in its mission to reduce energy use and identify feasible alternatives to the current fossil-fuel based energy system. The multidisciplinary, policy-oriented and student-based research project will explore the environmental and economic implications of various energy sources and efficiency options on campus.

Coral Frederick of Athens, a senior mass media arts and women’s studies double major from the Grady College of Journalism and the Institute for Women’s Studies, will increase technology transfer for UGArden’s current aquaponics system, a sustainable food production system that integrates vegetable production with fish production. Frederick will work with researchers in the Warnell School to optimize fish diet for maximum sustainability of fish production and develop online outlets to share information about the project and aquaponics.

Kareem Mahmoud of Alpharetta, a junior finance major in the Terry College of Business, hopes to increase usability and facilitate an easier method of bike sharing within UGA’s Bulldog Bikes program. With the goal of reducing traffic congestion and promoting alternative transportation options, Mahmoud will collaborate with researchers in the College of Engineering to create an automated system for bike check in and checkout at any of the three existing bike share locations on campus.

Lucy King of Dalton, Amy Ferguson of Alpharetta, Jason Bowman of Athens, Kyle Hady of Alpharetta and Matthew Logan of Peachtree City, all senior environmental engineering majors the College of Engineering, will build a solar recharge station for UGArden’s new electric vehicle. The vehicle will be used to deliver food grown in the garden to families in the Athens area. The group hopes this recharge station can serve as an example for future alternative energy projects at UGA.

Sophie Giberga of Covington, La., a sophomore political science major in the School of Public and International Affairs, will use her funding to help the Lunchbox Garden Project expand its reach to other schools and increase outdoor education. The project is an after-school gardening and nutrition education program and currently operates at Barnett Shoals and Chase Street elementary schools.

The Office of Sustainability received more than 30 well-developed project proposals from students in various academic disciplines. A selection committee of students, faculty and staff made the final recommendations for projects to be awarded in 2013. Student projects that received funding are aligned with UGA’s 2020 Strategic Plan, which emphasizes conservation of resources, education about environmental issues and research that advances sustainability on campus and beyond.

For more information on Campus Sustainability Grants and other initiatives of the UGA Office of Sustainability, see http://www.sustainability.uga.edu/.