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2022 Sustainability Institute grants enable success for students

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May 11, 2022

The Sustainability Institute is thrilled to announce the winners of the annual SI Student Grants for 2022. Twelve PhD, master’s and undergraduate students will receive up to $5,000 each for their own innovative research projects in the sustainability field. Ranging from chemical engineering to soil science, each project has the potential to lead to groundbreaking advances in environment, energy, natural resources, economy and community resilience areas.  

  • John Brett, a master’s student in the School of Environment and Natural Resources, is researching the impact of high-resolution tree measurements on the improvement of ecosystem services measurements. 

  • Undergraduate environmental science student Cade Capper is putting his funding toward the potential of bioretention cells to serve as reproductive habitats for monarch butterflies in urban areas.  

  • Peng Chen, a first-year PhD student at the Knowlton School of Architecture, is investigating the impacts of the spatial pattern of green infrastructure on land surface temperature. 

  • Zhaozhe Chen is working toward a doctorate through the School of Earth Sciences while studying the potential of artificial floating islands for water quality improvement of residential wastewater. 

  • Undergraduate Audrey Hollerich, who is majoring in horticulture and crop science, will analyze urban pollinators and their impacts on tomato productivity.  

  • Environmental social sciences student Iresha Jayasinghe plans to look at environmentalism through an international lens by examining Asian college student perspectives on their connection to nature and pro-environmental behaviors. 

  • Joelle Jenkins, a master’s student in the School of Environment and Natural Resources, is keeping her research local by exploring conceptualizations of sustainability and diversity, equity and inclusion between decision-makers and local residents in Columbus, Ohio. 

  • Soil science master’s student Brittany Multer is focusing her efforts on concrete weathering as a mechanism for carbon sequestration. 

  • Liam Nigro, an environment, economy, development and sustainability undergraduate, will direct his funding toward a project entitled “Seeds of Renaissance: Sustainable Pathways to Community Wellness and Resilience through Art.” 

  • Chemical engineering undergraduate Michael Tomechko will work on an experimental demonstration of high-capacity iron-poor ferrites for splitting CO2 and H2O by thermochemical looping.  

  • Samantha Turner, an undergraduate student in mechanical engineering, will advance Buckeye Solar Racing, a student team that is designing and building a solar-powered vehicle to race in national competitions starting in July 2023. 

  • Luke Williams, an undergraduate biochemistry major, will track biodiversity at the Ohio State wetlands using environmental DNA metabarcoding. 

A team of reviewers from SI, campus sustainability offices and SI core faculty worked together to select the funded projects. 

“It is an honor to have the opportunity to review so many outstanding project applications each year for our SI student grant process. Our 2022 funded projects reflect broad student interest and creativity in identifying sustainability solutions.  We are pleased to support this important work during the upcoming academic year,” Gina Jaquet, director of sustainability education and learning for the Sustainability Institute said. 

The 2023 Sustainability Institute student grant process will open at the start of spring semester 2023. All students attending Ohio State, regardless of academic year or campus, are encouraged to apply. For more information, contact Gina Jaquet

Story by Aurora Ellis, student communications assistant