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Committee on Sustainability Announces Summer 2011 Research Students

  • Helping WATA, W&M bondPatrick Foley '13 is continuing the project he began in the spring.

    Jim Ducibella

    Helping WATA, W&M bond
  • Finding new homes for old computersJamison Shabanowitz ’12 and Julia Casciotti ’12 continue work to expand the program by which faculty and staff can purchase usable computers the College no longer needs.

    Jim Ducibella

    Finding new homes for old computers
  • Forging a new trailMary-Carson Saunders J.D. ’13 is working to set up guidelines for the sustainable use of College Woods.

    Jim Ducibella

    Forging a new trail
Five undergraduates and one law student have been chosen by the College of William and Mary Committee on Sustainability Steering Committee to receive grants to support research in such diverse areas as land-use planning, sustainability in the curriculum, e-recycling, behavioral modification, and public transportation.

It is the third consecutive year the COS will be supporting students who are conducting summer sustainability-related research. Each full-time grant recipient receives a $3,500 stipend for living expenses, housing on the main campus if needed, and up to $1,500 in research expenses. The Steering Committee awarded three full-time awards, one half-time award and one full-time award split between two students for a total of $19,150.  The Summer Research Grants are supported by the Student Green Fee, which is $15 per semester per student.

Mary-Carson Saunders J.D. ’13 is the first graduate or professional student to receive a COS Summer Research Grant. Under the supervision of law professor and COS steering committee co-chair Lynda Butler, Saunders will use her legal education and her half-time grant from COS to develop guidelines for sustainable use of the College Woods.

Saunders became active in the COS land use working group, led by Professor of Marine Science Jim Perry, during the spring semester. She proved immediately to be a valuable member of the group, taking upon herself the challenge of sorting through numerous documents concerning actions taken to protect and guide use of the College Woods.

Jamison Shabanowitz ’12 and Julia Casciotti ’12 will share a summer research grant and work to continue the electronic waste recycling project that Shabanowitz began as a COS Summer Research Student in 2010. Last summer he established an ink cartridge, toner and cell-phone recycling program for students, faculty and staff. Julia continued Jamison’s project in the spring 2011 semester, serving as a COS EcoAmbassador for the office of procurement. Julia worked with procurement staff to set up an auction site where faculty and staff members can purchase usable computers that the College no longer needs.

Shabanowitz and Casciotti will work this summer under the direction of Professor Eric Bradley to expand e-recycling to the College’s schools, including the Law School, Mason School of Business and the School of Education.

Jamie Hall ’13 will work with Professor John Swaddle to investigate the possibility of formalizing sustainability in the curriculum. The College is preparing to review its undergraduate General Education Requirements (GERs), and Hall’s research will help the GER evaluation committee decide whether or not it is feasible to include a sustainability GER in W&M’s undergraduate curriculum. As part of her research, Hall will look at peer institutions to determine what, if any, sustainability GER requirements they may have.

John Hollis ’12 will take on an issue that has challenged the COS, and the environmental/sustainability movement in general: how to motivate people to change behavior. Working under the supervision of Professor Cheryl Dickter, he will undertake a diagnostic survey of W&M undergraduates to determine the link between environmental attitudes and behaviors. Hollis wants to “examine how personality traits can serve as predictors of pro-environmental behavior, as well as to understand how best to manage the impact of personality when persuading undergraduates to behave in an environmentally conscious manner.”

Patrick Foley ’13 will use his Summer Research Grant to continue the project he began as a COS EcoAmbassador last spring. He has been working with Professor John McGlennon in the government department to determine how best to increase ridership on the Williamsburg Area Transportation Authority (WATA) buses that currently run several routes through campus.

As part of that project, Patrick surveyed undergraduate students and found that 70 percent of them reported either not using the system or using it only once or twice during the previous month. He will examine public transportation systems in other small college towns to see what Williamsburg, William & Mary and WATA can learn from those systems.