An eclectic field of SU Showcase Fellows presented their original research and projects relating to sustainability at SU Showcase 2011, “Sustainability for a Livable Future,” in the Schine Student Center on May 2.
The works of 16 fellows were featured at this year’s event. These Syracuse University and SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry students/groups were chosen to share their projects because of their timely and relevant topics. The academic works ranged from food and green buildings to the media’s influence on creating sustainable behaviors, as well as a host of other imaginative topics in between.
The SU Showcase 2011 Fellows, including descriptions of their projects, are listed below according to several underlying Showcase themes:
SUSTENANCE (food, water, health)
- Food and sustainability on campus: “Eating green on the Orange campus”
By Lorenz Chiu, Samantha Birsen and Anna Wu, SU Human Ecology undergraduates
Under the direction of faculty advisor Kimberly Johnson, Lorenz's team surveyed 1,800 students at dining halls and cafés around campus about their perceptions of sustainability and about decreasing meat consumption. Based on the survey data, they are developing a public relations campaign to inform students about healthier and more sustainable eating habits, including tips on how to eat healthy in the dining halls/cafés.
- Health for all: Development of an infrastructure-appropriate system for sterilizing medical consumables in rural equatorial regions
By Thomas Law, SU undergraduate Bioengineering major
Working with faculty advisor Andrew Darling, Thomas is developing a solar-powered steam sterilizer with an integrated vacuum drying system for medical use in remote areas of the developing world. Test results show that the system is capable of reliably sterilizing and drying a wide range of medical supplies using only resources available in any populated location in Ghana. The prototype and test results have been presented to the Ghanaian Water Resources Commission, and will be presented at both the Northeastern Bioengineering Conference at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the National Global Health Technologies Design Competition at Rice University.
By Kevin Phu and Dorian Kessler, SUNY-ESF undergraduate Chemistry majors, and Michael Amadori, SUNY-ESF Ecological Engineering graduate student
Working with Ph.D. candidate Michael Amadori, Kevin and Dorian have developed a pilot scale aquaponics unit. An aquaponics unit mimics a symbiotic environment that combines aquaculture with hydroponics. While raising goldfish and tilapia fish, the ammonia-rich wastewater is pumped to growing beds that fertilize lettuce plants and cycle the now-cleansed water back to the fish. Their research will track nitrate and pH levels to monitor the water quality. They are also testing food pellets made from food waste collected from campus dining halls as a potentially more sustainable way for feeding that will result in healthier fish for consumption.
STUFF (recycling, reuse, rethinking materials)
- Reimagining trash
By Elisabeth Terrio, SU Industrial and Interaction Design undergraduate
Elisabeth's senior thesis is inspired by the scavenger populations and innovations of materially poor countries that turn post-consumer products into sources of livelihood, thereby prolonging the useful life of products. She is designing a mass-participatory website database that helps identify objects with reuse potential that individuals own before they throw them out, and connects them with people with ideas to reuse the formed material for re-purposed products for small businesses.
- Multifunctional portable thermos mug
By Bochao Wang and Li Han, SU Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering graduate students
As a project for a Sustainable Manufacturing class taught by Prof. Young Moon, Bochao and Li have designed a solar-powered portable mug that can be easily stretched and folded. It features USB-powered water or coffee heating, auto-stirring underneath, double stainless steel layer heat insulation and solar-powered LED lighting. Their goal is to produce a product that reduces resource use, and to produce it in a manner that conserves energy and materials. They will have a prototype on display at Showcase.
- Low-impact art: Costuming an opera
By Timothy Westbrook, SU Fiber Arts and Material Studies undergraduate
For Tim's senior thesis project he is costuming a student production of The Magic Flute opera. The thirteen costumes make use of post-consumer products, to the extent possible. He will display four of the costumes at Showcase, with documentation about his design process, the source of materials and thread use.
LIFESTYLES (sustainable behaviors, attitudes, policies)
- Can green TV make us greener? The appeal and effectiveness of environmental TV programs at promoting pro-environmental behaviors among individuals with different attitudes
By Katelyn Kirnan, SU Television, Radio and Film graduate student
Under the direction of Prof. Fiona Chew, Katelyn surveyed two different samples of young adults to determine the effects of environmental TV programming on attitudes and beliefs. Her findings offer guidance for TV programmers on the most effective way to reach a variety of audiences.
- The underrepresented student’s access to sustainability in the post-secondary education experience
By Andrea M. Webster, SUNY-ESF Environmental Studies graduate student
In order to avoid a class and race stratification of sustainability knowledge, we should ensure that we are educating a racially and socioeconomically diverse set of students about the economic, social justice and ecological implications of our decisions. Under the direction of faculty adviser Prof. David Sonnenfeld, Andrea is studying underrepresented student access, determined by race and socioeconomic status, to New York higher education institutions identified as highly committed to sustainability principles. The results will allow informed conversations about sustainability issues to take place in more racially and socioeconomically diverse social circles.
- Sustainable tourism: Oxymoron or just an incredible challenge?
By Roman Yavich, SU Public Administration graduate student
As a Fulbright fellow in Nicaragua, Roman researched the sustainability of tourism development from the various viewpoints of the industry's stakeholders. He interviewed local residents, tourism business owners, tourists, and government officials to understand their perception of the pros and cons of tourism development. He subsequently co-founded a non-profit organization, Comunidad Connect, that focuses on sustainable community development. Visitors stay with Nicaraguan families, gaining first-hand experience with Nicaraguan culture and contributing directly to the local economy. VolunTourism, as the concept is often called, is perhaps the most sustainable form of tourism implemented to date.
INFRASTRUCTURE (urban and built environment)
By Scott D. Bascom, SU Architecture graduate student
Under the guidance of Prof. Kevin Lair, Scott is investigating the potentials of using Mycelium from fungus as a sustainable building material. Using mycelium provides an opportunity to grow architecture on site from waste products. This would propose a true zero waste method of developing materials on site and actually begin to disperse nutrients back into the site. He is investigating the physical properties, resilience and thermal characteristics of mycelium, as well as the aesthetic characteristics of living architecture. His display at Showcase will include mock-up wall panels that incorporate eco-tech censoring, which manipulates the surfaces based on site-specific characteristics.
- Green roofs: How they affect water quality
By George Segré, SU Civil Engineering undergraduate
George has worked with Prof. Charles Driscoll to study the green roof on the Syracuse Center of Excellence building, in order to quantify the effects of a green roof on water quality. He has been measuring the fluctuation between the inputs (rain water and particulate matter) and outputs (runoff) of the system. This research has the potential to diminish the influence of storm water runoff on combined sewer systems (CSS), which are prone to overflowing during large precipitation events or a mix of snow melt and sustained precipitation. George's work won an award at the New York Water Environment Association Conference.
- Energy-harvesting door
By Byron Golub, SU Mechanical Engineering undergraduate
Working with faculty advisors Frederick Carranti and Don Carr, Byron's team has developed a mechanical attachment that can harvest the energy generated when people open normal swing doors. The energy can be stored to power an automatic door-opening device for people with disabilities. They have been working with both Industrial Design and Advertising here at SU to make the product both aesthetically pleasing and functional. They will display a prototype at SU Showcase.
THE ANTHROPOCENE ERA (human impacts on natural ecosystems)
- Respiration in soil microbial communities
By Peter Chuckran, SU Biology undergraduate
Peter's research concerns factors that could affect CO2 respiration rates of soil microbes. These factors include topography, grazing and temperature. In particular, he is looking at how these factors affect the processing of recalcitrant carbon during respiration, which can shed light on feedback loops affecting climate change. He is working with Prof. Doug Frank on this project.
- Permafrost in a changing world
By Rachel Valletta, Emily Romano and Corey Lefebvre, SU College of Arts and Sciences undergraduates
Permafrost is the condition of ground (not just soil) that remains frozen for multiple years. This is an important landscape experiencing change under an evolving climate regime, but often gets overshadowed by more pressing issues such as rising sea levels. Rachel and her team, under the direction of Biology Prof. Mark Ritchie, have researched the effects melting permafrost can have on both a global and regional scale. These effects extend beyond mere scientific research and have major societal and economic impacts. Together with Communications Design major Lindsey Mulla, they have constructed a 3D visual representation of a permafrost environment.
- The DS (Disaster Solutions) Project: Onondaga Lake
By Misha Rabinovich, SU Computer Art graduate student; Caitlin Foley, SU Fibers and Material Studies graduate student; Maximilian Bauer, SU Sculpture graduate student; Jennifer Chan, SU Art Video graduate student
The Disaster Solutions (DS) Institute aims to provide the Syracuse community with artistic projects and presentations that illuminate critical local environmental issues. The group's first project focuses on Onondaga Lake. Through sculpture, poster exhibitions, lectures and video, the DS Institute provides a variety of information and interpretations of the history, current dynamic and planned future of the lake's ecosystem. The DS Institute's custom-built sculptural model is used as a pedagogical tool during lectures and videos. This machine, which is based on a scale model of Onondaga Lake, is fully equipped to distill lake water and is used to demonstrate a spectrum of remediation solutions from the realistic to the Utopian.
ART FOR A LIVABLE FUTURE (an art exhibit in Menschel Gallery)
- Das meer
By Elin Sandberg, SU Fiber and Textile Arts undergraduate
Elin produces plastic work in a low impact manner using plastic and paper materials and Greenerprinter (Greenerprinter.com) high quality prints. Her thesis project combines plastic with clay, paper pulp, weaving, basket coiling and wood to create a hand-netted recycled cloth oceanic algorithm. Through handling plastic and weighing how much process the material holds, she is inspired to create works reflecting on the manufacturing of plastic and the effect of its end life. The finished work will be installed in the windows above the reading room in Carnegie Hall. Surrounding this piece are six vessels each addressing a different issue of the plastic effect and the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. At Showcase, Elin will display photographs of the installation with a poster display created from paper pulp and plastics.