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W&M announces sustainability summer research grants

  • Sustainability ProjectsWilliam & Mary's Committee on Sustainability (COS) has awarded four Student Summer Research Grants for projects that will focus on areas such as campus recycling, GIS mapping of campus habitat and ecosystems and a new program to increase the College's use of locally grown and sustainable food. Randy Chambers, associate professor of biology and director of the Keck Lab, will will provide advising and support for the GIS mapping and inventory of campus Ecological elements project.

    Sustainability Projects
William & Mary's Committee on Sustainability (COS) has awarded four Student Summer Research Grants for projects that will focus on areas such as campus recycling, GIS mapping of campus habitat and ecosystems and a new program to increase the College's use of locally grown and sustainable food.

The summer research grants, funded through the student "Green Fee," are part of the ongoing effort to advance the College's Sustainability Policy first announced by William & Mary President Taylor Reveley in the Spring of 2008.  The grants
provide opportunities for critical research experiences by students working under the supervision of faculty and staff and address important issues identified in the COS planning process.

"This first competition for proposals gave us several strong options to pursue," said Dennis Taylor, co-chair of COS and professor of marine science at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. While this summer's recipients of the research grants are all undergraduate students, the committee hopes to grow the applicant pool in the future to include students from all academic units, Taylor said.
 "We need the creativity that comes from the different disciplines and perspectives of all our students," he added.

This year's summer grants will fund four projects -- Campus Recycling, GIS Mapping and Inventory of Campus Ecological Elements, and Sustainable Food Procurement. Each grant provides a $3,500 summer stipend, up to $1,500 for research expenses and housing if required.

  • Campus Recycling: Campus recycling is a high priority for COS, Taylor said, because it impacts all aspects of campus life and central to reduction of the College's carbon footprint (the release of CO2 and other Green House gasses). Two student research proposals in this area were awarded to Judi Sclafani and Tyler Koontz for research that explores alternative cost options and identifies obstacles to a self-sustaining campus-wide recycling program for W&M. Rowan Lockwood, associate professor of geology, and Sandra Prior, director of the College's Office of Environment, Health and Safety, will provide advising and support.
  • GIS Mapping and Inventory of Campus Ecological Elements: Knowledge of the size and location of natural habitats, wildlife and the provision of ecosystem services is important to both their preservation and protection, and the planning of facilities and utilities to create a sustainable campus. The Summer Grant Award to Erica Hart will support research to develop a GIS map layer of the campus that inventories habitat, wildlife and ecosystem services. This layer will be incorporated into the integrated GIS mapping of the College currently in progress. Randy Chambers, associate professor of biology and director of the Keck Lab, and Stuart Hamilton, director of the Center for Geospatial Analysis will provide advising and support.
  • Sustainable Food Procurement: Food services are a major activity at the College that has broad implications for campus sustainability and the overall carbon footprint. The Summer Grant Award to Connor Horne will support research in collaboration with Dining Services to develop a program for sustainable food procurement that will include increased reliance on locally produced foods, and sustainably grown agricultural products. Eric Engstrom, assistant professor of biology and Larry Smith, of Dining Services and director of the Commons, will provide advice and support.
Lynda Butler, co-chair of COS and interim dean of the William & Mary Law School, said the committee was very pleased with the first round of summer research grants.

"They point to the depth of interest in the COS effort and to the shared commitment of students, faculty and staff to sustainability at W&M," Butler said. "It was very important to the COS Steering Committee that the Green Fees voted upon by the Student Body and approved by the Board of Visitors last Spring be returned to the students in a tangible way to promote sustainability."