Ten Swarthmore students have been newly selected for the President’s Sustainability Research Fellowship (PSRF), a high-impact learning experience where students take stewardship over vital sustainability challenges at the College. The program matches motivated students with small teams of staff and faculty mentors to research, develop, and implement projects in a year-long course and associated internship.
The program is jointly run by the President’s Office, the Office of Sustainability, the Environmental Studies Program, and the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility, and has led or contributed to many of the College’s sustainability efforts, including the College’s energy plan, To Zero by Thirty-Five, the restoration of Crum Woods, the infusion of sustainability into the curriculum, and much more. Additionally, one previous fellow will be returning to continue working on a campus sustainability project.
The incoming 2023-2024 President’s Sustainability Research Fellowship cohort includes:
Anastasia Erley ’24 is a nature lover from Garnet Valley, PA, who became interested in environmental work after learning about local environmental injustice. At Swarthmore, she became a Green Advisor and worked on a composting feasibility study for a local middle school. She also spent a summer in Hawai’i as a zero waste fellow, learning about circular waste and island waste management.
Anastasia’s project is focused on sustainable procurement and will be mentored by Chris Kane, director of procurement. The project will continue past PSRF work to build a campus culture of sustainable purchasing and develop resources and policy to centralize these efforts.
“I love sharing my knowledge and passion with others, but I've always felt limited in my ability to effectuate systematic change. So, I'm thrilled to collaborate with Chris and be in a position where I can help develop educational resources for our campus and implement a sustainable purchasing policy!
Chris Folk ’24 was born in Palau and raised in the rural community of Walnut Grove, CA. Seeking a broader vision of what could be done about the global ecological crisis, they took a course on environmental justice and became involved with Campus Coalition Concerning Chester (C4).
Next year, Chris will be working with the Crum Woods Stewardship Committee to create pathways for members of the campus and surrounding community to interact and engage with the Crum Woods, building closer relationships between people and their surrounding environment.
“I seek to foster community wide engagement with the Crum Woods that highlights and centers Swarthmore's colonial relationship to the land it occupies.
Clara Lee ’26, from Ponchatoula, Louisiana, has engaged in Environmental Studies-focused extracurriculars at Swarthmore, including C4, and taken Environmental Studies (ENVS) courses that grew her passion for environmental justice and sustainability.
Clara’s project is focused on lab waste, and will be mentored by Chris Graves, associate professor of Chemistry and chair of Environmental Studies. The project will seek to develop systems and behavior change initiatives to help reduce waste associated with College laboratories.
“I’m looking forward to implementing change within Swarthmore’s sustainability. I’m particularly excited about my lab waste project because labs are in use almost every day, whether for class or for research. Making labs more sustainable may be a challenge, but it’ll be worth it!
George Fang ’26 is a rising sophomore from Columbus, Ohio who is passionate about environmental studies and computer science. George is as excited about large-scale environmental activism as he is about the positive “little” personal efforts that we make on a daily basis. As a PSRF, he aims to make Swarthmore’s printing waste “paper-thin,” drawing upon his multidisciplinary expertise with automating workflows, researching sustainable technologies, and using psychology to promote sustainability.
George’s project, Sustainable Printing, will be mentored by Mark Davis, Director of IT Support Services. The project will build on previous work to minimize paper waste through systems design and behavior change initiatives.
“I’m very excited to make Swarthmore even more environmentally conscious. We have a responsibility to do the right thing—as an educational institution, members of the next generation, and humbly, humans.”
Isabela Ibrahim ’25 grew up in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and is majoring in engineering with a double minor in environmental studies and applied mathematics. Her life experiences, work as a Green Advisor on campus, and coursework at Swarthmore contributed to a passion for sustainable food systems.
As a PSRF, Isabela will conduct preliminary research on feasibility and requirements for establishing a farm on campus, and be mentored by Professor of Engineering and Environmental Studies Carr Everbach to.
“I am looking forward to developing a plan for a potential Campus Farm while pursuing my academic interests within our food system. I am hopeful this space would give the communities around Swarthmore an opportunity to further engage with growing and enjoying good food in a sustainable way.”
Jacob Herbold ’26, from Newcastle, Washington, was drawn to collaborative, policy-based projects in high school, lobbying for climate legislation and organizing middle and high school students to develop sustainability-focused pedagogy in his home state of Washington. Jacob is excited to collaborate with passionate students and faculty from all over the college as a PSRF next year.
Mentored by Elizabeth Drake, director of sustainability, and Phil Coleman, an environmentally-engaged resident from the Swarthmore community, Jacob will be working with the Environmental Advisory Council to advance renewable energy and sustainable transportation in the Borough of Swarthmore.
“I am eager to help develop proposals for sustainable transportation, informed by conversations with Swarthmore Borough residents, faculty, and students. I hope the PSRF class will allow me to contextualize these conversations within considerations of mobility and environmental justice.
Lindsey Turner ’25, an engineering major from West Chester, Pennsylvania, loves creative problem-solving and learning from the natural world.
Lindsey’s project topic, sustainable archive management, will be mentored by Jordan Landes, curator of the Friends Historical Library. The project will investigate physical infrastructure requirements for safely archiving historical documents and avenues to make the process less resource-intensive.
“I look forward to being better equipped for the critical years of climate action ahead. I am excited to consider sustainability in often overlooked spheres of life such as archival work. I truly believe sustainability starts small so I look forward to the many relationships I'll build.
Oviya Kumaran ’24 grew up in the Bay Area. Previously an intern in the Office of Sustainability, she worked on food systems and other sustainable endeavors on campus. She has experience working with an environmental non-profit, and this summer will work on campaign strategy research relating to sustainability.
Oviya’s project focuses on reducing Scope 3 emissions and will be mentored by Climate Action Manager Hannah Ulloa. The project will continue work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with campus activities like commuting, air travel, and waste management as part of the College's commitment to achieving carbon neutrality by 2035.
“Understanding scope 3 emissions is beyond important to combating climate change. Especially with the schools’ emission goals, my project can help further these goals. In the future I hope to create a just and sustainable environmental policy and PSRF will help me start this goal at Swarthmore.
Saumya Raj ’25 grew up in Bangalore, India and her outlook on sustainability is defined by her grandparents' village in Kerala, where it is customary to grow one’s food organically and use banana leaves as plates, and each house is responsible for composting and managing its waste. In the US, Saumya notices several ways to incorporate grass-root level practices and believes composting could come more naturally and be more effective if everyone feels responsible and understands different material compositions.
As a PSRF, Saumya will be mentored by Associate Director of Sustainability Clare Hyre. Her project will seek to continue to reduce food waste at the College by researching and developing systems to increase food recovery.
“I am excited to create impact by revisiting how we look at and process waste. I want to advocate greater environmental mindfulness, starting with improving sorting systems. It is time to engineer solutions that leave the earth greener than we inherited it.”
Slate Hyacinthe ’24, from Madison, Wisconsin, is an ecologist, artist, and researcher with an interest in global perspectives on sustainability. They spent the spring of 2023 studying abroad in Panama, focusing on tropical ecology, marine biology, and biodiversity conservation. During the summer of 2023, they will be in Sénégal doing thesis research on ecovillage development and ecospiritualities in the Senegalese context.
Slate’s project, focused on Crum Woods stewardship, will be mentored by Director of Grounds Jeff Jabco and Garden Supervisor Lars Rasmussen. The project will advance ecological restoration work in Crum Woods as laid out in the Crum Woods Stewardship Plan.
“I am interested in land restoration that combines human and non-human perspectives. I am looking forward to understanding the Crum woods more deeply, its ecology, the challenges it faces, and its varied potential to harbor life on all levels. I hope to work with my hands and share it with others.
Additionally, one previous PSRF will be returning for the 2022-23 year to continue working on campus sustainability efforts:
Ryan Jin ’24, from Carlisle, Pennsylvania, is a rising senior studying mathematics and economics. Ryan has been both a Green Advisor and PSRF fellow with the Office of Sustainability and is a member of the Swarthmore Ultimate Frisbee team.
Following his 2022-23 project, which focused on electric vehicles , Ryan Jin ’24 will be continuing to work with Hannah Ulloa, climate action manager, on campus climate action. Next year, Ryan will be conducting the College’s annual greenhouse gas inventory and supporting the Carbon Charge Working Group with research and analysis to reduce campus carbon emissions.