Georgia State’s Office of Sustainability is proud to announce the first ever student award winners for sustainability projects at GSU’s Undergraduate Research Conference (GSURC) held April 13th. Whether it’s finding ways to clean up pollution, or proposing green infrastructure to utilize rainwater around Atlanta, or using natural nontoxic products in their art projects, Georgia State students are putting their talents and creativity toward creating a more sustainable planet.

 

Faculty judges reviewed 16 overall entries (all of which fell in the art and research poster categories), selecting the seven top projects. The lead author on each project is awarded $100, funded by the student sustainability fee. The winners are (listed alphabetically):

  • Justin Brightharp, in Geoscience: He was awarded in a special category “best applied project” to recognize research that directly aids or involves the community in environmental problem-solving. His project is entitled “Green Infrastructure in Atlanta” and helps evaluate Atlanta’s green infrastructure needs to better adapt to excess or insufficient rainfall in an era of climate change, capturing water and reducing flooding and sewage overflows. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (faculty sponsor: Ricardo Nogueira)
  • Chelsea Bush, Lori Farley, and Tim Herold, in Geoscience: “Evidence for shallow groundwater saltwater intrusion: Wormsloe State Historic Site, Chatham County, GA.” This research determines the baseline conditions of the park’s aquifer to assess the impacts of sea level rise and to support ecological restoration projects. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (faculty sponsor: Brian Meyer)
  • MiNa Choe, in Neuroscience: “Artificial flavorings enhance attractability and palatability of plant protein sources for Pacific white shrimp.” This aquaculture research finds plant-based food source flavorings that farmed shrimp will find palatable, which would eliminate the need to feed them fish or krill meal, thereby reducing the amount of sea animals fished from the oceans. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  (faculty sponsor: Charles Derby)
  • Tracy Finnemore, James Bullows, Lawrence Shedrick, and Mengchen Xiao, in Biology: “Key to sustainable removal of oil spill pollutants from a contaminated environment.” This research examines the potential for certain types of genes to degrade various types of oil contaminants from future oil spills. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  (faculty sponsor: Kuk-Jeong Chin)
  • Teal Gordon, in Photography: “Trash from the Hootch.” This photography collection showcases individual items of trash, such as shoes and plastic bottles, that are polluting Atlanta’s Chattahoochee River, which Teal retrieved during a river cleanup. (This work was featured on GSU’s homepage recently).  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (faculty sponsor: Constance Thalken)
  • William Scandrett, in Geoscience: “Rain Gardens and the intensification and effects of storm events during El Nino Years in the Atlanta Metropolitan Area.” This research examines the benefits of establishing rain gardens around Atlanta to absorb excess rainwater and use it to beautify native landscaping and prevent flooding.  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.   (faculty sponsor: Ricardo Nogueira)
  • Margaret Wickham, in Textiles: “Dream Map 1: Black Walnut.” This textile art project features a natural form representing the combination of dreams and memories related to her childhood visits to a nature cabin, dyed using black walnuts collected locally, which replaces the synthetic chemical dyes common in textile and fabric coloring.  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (faculty sponsor: Jess Jones)

You can download many of their abstracts by clicking on the art or poster session links here http://gsurc.honors.gsu.edu/conference-schedule/

Next year we look forward to students also submitting environmentally-themed projects in the musical performance and oral presentation categories, in addition to the art and research poster categories.

“I am hoping these awards will foster a broader and more comprehensive application of sustainability topics in classrooms across all majors at Georgia State (from the humanities, to the professional schools, to the natural and social sciences), helping prepare our students to be leaders in solving the largest problem facing humanity in the 21st century – the need to heal our planet’s ecological crisis,” says Dr. Carrie Freeman, Associate Professor of Communication, who lead this initiative with other faculty and the Office of Sustainability.

“The Office of Sustainability wants to encourage our student body to use their educational opportunities in class assignments to explore the important and urgent issue of environmental sustainability and increase their environmental literacy,” explains Jennifer Asman, Georgia State’s Sustainability Manager. “With this new initiative of highlighting sustainability-related scholarship at GSURC, we can all benefit from students sharing their talents and ideas for sustainability, which may spark further scholarship, interdisciplinary projects, and collective action.”

To help students identify the diversity of topics that can fall under the category of “sustainability,” we offer this definition:

We encourage submission of student projects (across all academic disciplines in classes taken at GSU) that are inspired to help critically examine and/or resolve the urgent ecological crisis, with the goal of protecting current and future generations of all species and ecological systems on Earth. Projects may address how humanity can adapt/transform its socio-economic systems, institutions, identity, and relationship to other animals and nature, to meet human needs indefinitely and equitably by preserving the living systems on which all beings depend. Some potential topics/subjects to examine include: climate change; pollution; water quality and conservation; wilderness and wildlife protection/biodiversity; renewable energy; food, agriculture, and fishing (including GMOs); environmental justice and protection of health and rights for humans; sustainable design; waste reduction and recycling; consumer culture; human population stabilization; ocean life protection; corporate social responsibility, green business/marketing; natural resource conservation; environmental education; sustainable policies and legislation; religious or cultural views on other animals and nature; and environmental advocacy and social change movements.