Trees in front of a river in Autumn

Student Leaders in Sustainability Receive Sustainability Institute Research Grants

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November 4, 2020

By Aurora Ellis

Students researching sustainability topics ranging from energy efficiency to sustainable fashion have received a total of $38,077 in grants from the Sustainability Institute at Ohio State. The funding supported 16 undergraduate and graduate students to facilitate their research and to advance impactful environmental discoveries.

The rigorous and competitive grant process emphasized living lab projects, project-learning work and sustainability-related research including:

Jeremy Block and Wanderson Novais Perera are both working toward their master’s degrees, Block in environment and natural resources and Perera in environmental science. The pair assesses sustainable practices of prescribed burning and goat grazing to restore a degraded eastern oak forest. Catherine Chen, a Ph.D. candidate in public policy, investigates energy poverty and energy efficiency throughout Columbus. Earth sciences doctoral student Zhaozhe Chen’s artificial floating island system aids in nutrient removal and remediation of harmful algal blooms. Christie Hammons and Jean Williams, veterinary medicine majors, are collaborating on a project centered on sustainable landscaping at the College of Veterinary Medicine. Finn Haughn, an undergraduate in civil, environmental and geodetic engineering, focuses on installing low-cost, pervious concrete filters for acid mine drainage remediation. Undergraduate data analytics and psychology major Jeremy Huang is harnessing psychological and communication science to develop an effective zero-waste messaging campaign.

Everly Jazi, in the environment and natural resources master’s program, explores green space as a means of health equity by testing differential experiences in the nature/well-being connection. Anthropology Ph.D. student Samantha Kirgesner’s project, “Toward the development of effective conservation,” will look at a long-term analysis of human-environmental interactions of mollusk foraging in Fiji. Alyssa Kuhlwein and Monica Shah, undergraduate public policy analysis and public health majors, respectively, seek new methods to improve the SUSTAINS Learning Community’s aquaponics system. Avee Oabel, an undergraduate student majoring in landscape architecture, spearheads an awareness campaign for curbing sediment runoff. Food, agricultural and biological engineering Ph.D. candidate Jaden Tatum studies an integrated grain drying and storage system for use in developing countries. Genevieve Wagner, an undergraduate studio art major, organizes a secondhand clothing collective called “Outfit the Future.” Undergraduate mechanical engineering student Andrew Yates researches the effectiveness of intercropping on small scale, urban, organic growing systems.

Sustainability Institute staff members Gina Jaquet, director of sustainability education and learning; Matt Griffin, program coordinator of sustainability education and learning; and Mike Shelton, associate director, directed the selection process by collating feedback provided by sustainability leaders from the School of Environment and Natural Resources, Student Life and Facilities Operations and Development, as well as Sustainability Institute core faculty members.

The 2021 Sustainability Institute student grant process will open in late January. All students attending Ohio State, regardless of academic year or campus, are strongly encouraged to participate. For more information, contact Matt Griffin at

Aurora Ellis is a student communications assistant at the Sustainability Institute.