Sustainability Research Fellows Share Progress with Campus Community

The second cohort of President’s Sustainability Research Fellows (PSRFs) presented findings from their projects before a packed Gathering Room at the Inn at Swarthmore last week — the culmination of their year-long stewardship of sustainability challenges across the Swarthmore campus.

Sponsored by the President’s Office, the Office of Sustainability, the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility, and the Environmental Studies program, the high-impact learning program empowers students to learn by leading.

The PSRFs were also supported by staff and faculty mentors from an array of departments and disciplines, members of the greater community, and alumni Sustainability Sages.

“The program has enabled us to go outside the classroom to get people with the expertise and life experience and know how to enable our students to connect their [projects] with a year-long class and convert the extracurricular into the co-curricular,” says Ben Berger, executive director of the Lang Center and associate professor of political science. “That’s what’s been so exciting.”

The fellowship matches advanced students with mentors to research, develop, and implement projects in a year-long course and associated internship. Over the course of the year, students learn to be change agents in a large organization and gain invaluable experience with project management, communications, and advocacy.

“This is an example of engaged scholarship,” adds Carr Everbach, chair of the Engineering Department, who taught this year’s associated course and advised the PSRFs through his associations with the College’s Sustainability Committee and Environmental Studies program.

This year’s 11 fellows presented on the following:

  • Isabelle Branco-Lo ’18, and engineering major from New York City, on facilitating change and sustainability planning in athletics
  • Nicholas DiMaio ’19, an economics and Chinese major from Glen Head, N.Y., on carbon pricing and climate protection
  • Amos Frye ’19, an Honors economics and environmental studies major from Fairport, N.Y., on Crum Woods engagement and stewardship  
  • Jonathan Kay ’20, a political science major from Los Gatos, Calif., on behavior change and individual impact
  • Chloe Klaus ’19, an environmental studies and psychology major from Pottstown, Pa., on implementing policy change in purchasing through institutional contracts and decision-making
  • Sacha Lin ’20, an environmental studies and Spanish major from Studio City, Calif., on facilitating change through sustainability planning at 101 S. Chester Rd.
  • Isabel Llosa '20, a biology and studio art major from New York City, on sustainable food
  • Natasha Markov-Riss ’20, a political science major from Providence, R.I., on facilitating change and sustainability planning through the Office of Student Engagement
  • Omodayo Origunwa ’18, an engineering major from Oakland, Calif., on energy efficiency and sustainable buildings in design and practice
  • Sierra Spencer ’18, an engineering and environmental studies major from Lafayette Hill, Pa., on the replacement of natural gas with biofuel in Swarthmore's heat plant.
  • Terrence Xiao ’20, an engineering and environmental studies major from Beijing, China, on achieving Zero Waste at Swarthmore.

The presentations were followed by a visioning session for the future of campus sustainability. Key to that effort will be next year’s cohort of fellows, who will make a concerted effort to build upon sustainability efforts on campus by creating more partnerships in the greater community, says Aurora Winslade, director of sustainability.

Learn about Swarthmore’s impact on the local and global community at lifechanging.swarthmore.edu.