Wondering what students from across campus did this summer to advance sustainability efforts at U-M and beyond? Check out Part 2 of our Summer Internship Spotlights below featuring the work of 6 students in support of our collective mission to transition to a more just and sustainable future. Here’s Part 1, if you missed it!
Name: Pradip Shrestha
Year/major at U-M: Second year Master’s student / SEAS (concentration in Geospatial Data Sciences)
This summer, Pradip worked as a Catalyst Leadership Circle fellow alongside City of East Lansing leaders to create a sustainable flood mitigation plan. In recent years, East Lansing has been making plans that prioritize green stormwater management systems and infrastructure. So, Pradip’s team used green infrastructure technology to develop sustainable development models for the city. His team identified key impermeable surfaces with a high likelihood of flooding, then determined which surfaces could be converted into natural stormwater solutions in coming years.
Sustainability Insight: During this internship, Pradip noticed that there are many departments within East Lansing’s government looking for ways to implement sustainability. Although there are often many obstacles to doing this, there are certainly people in government who care and who are trying to do their part!
Future Plans: After his graduation, Pradip hopes to continue developing sustainable geospatial plans.
Name: Shreyas Ramprasad
Year/major at U-M: Second year Master’s in Mechanical Engineering student
Shreyas’s work this summer focused on propelling the U-M Planet Blue Ambassador program on the Dearborn campus. This is a newer program in Dearborn, so much of his work centered around building campus engagement. In addition to promoting a campus culture of sustainability, Shreyas worked on data collection and auditing projects. For example, he looked at the data on campus water fountains, noting emission reductions and the number of plastic bottles saved in recent years. He also participated in efforts to retrofit existing lights with LED lighting to further reduce campus emissions. Shreyas’s most recent project was the release of PBA Dearborn’s first newsletter!
Sustainability Insight: Change does not come overnight; it requires lots of effort, and it must happen collectively. Also, openly listening to others with different values will create space for meaningful discussions. We need more of that if we want to see anything change.
Future Plans: Shreyas hopes to be part of the leading efforts to make India, his home country, more sustainable.
Name: Regan Monnett
Year/major at U-M: Senior / English (M) & Program in the Environment (M)
This summer, Regan worked with the Matthaei Botanical Gardens to decolonize the plant information available in U-M’s three campus greenhouses. This process involved researching where these plants were taken from, then learning about their cultural significance in their native regions. Regan’s primary focus of research was fiber plants, such as agave and aloe. These two plants have powerful connections to the people in their native environments, and Regan’s research will make their histories accessible to greenhouse visitors. She is currently planning an interactive exhibit in the Conservatory that will share how indigenous histories align with the stories behind these fiber plants. She hopes that through her education-based efforts, we can further decolonize how we view these plants.
Sustainability Insight: It is important to acknowledge indigenous relationships with the environment, because Native people have much to share about environmental stewardship and health.
Future Plans: Regan will continue to work with the Matthaei Botanical Gardens this school year. Keep an eye out for her indigenous fiber plant exhibit at the end of this semester!
Name: Nicolette Harvey
Year/major at U-M: Junior / Materials Science and Engineering (M) & Art and Design (M)
One of Nicolette’s goals as a Cultural Organizer this summer was to make screen printing accessible to U-M student organizations. This school year, there will be a screen printing room in the Union where clubs can bring old or thrifted T-shirts and get designs printed on them. This will decrease textile waste by reducing demand for new T-shirts, and will save students money since this service is free! Nicolette has also been working on developing the Sustainability Honors Cord program. These cords are intended for students who have been involved in sustainability initiatives during their time at Michigan. The students who earn this honor can make their own hand-woven, organically dyed, and sustainably sourced cord to wear during their graduation.
Sustainability Insight: Often, the concept of sustainability is hard to comprehend. Talking about sustainability in an optimistic, exciting way reinforces the concept that sustainable behaviors do not have to be burdens!
Name: Victoria Worthington
Year/major at U-M: Graduated / Master’s in Social Work
The first part of Victoria’s internship at the Maize and Blue Cupboard involved planning a curriculum for students in the Summer Bridge Scholars program. Half of this curriculum was education based, including lessons about recycling and composting, food accessibility, and nutrition. The other half involved skills building, like making multiple meals using one ingredient and creating a cheap, healthy recipe using items from the Cupboard. Her goal during this program was to encourage diversity, equity, and inclusion while promoting a school culture of food accessibility.
Sustainability Insight: Sustainability is often interwoven in many of the systems that we interact with. There are good things happening and sustainability efforts build up over time!
Future Plans: Victoria will continue working at the Maize and Blue Cupboard part-time, where she plans to lead further outreach initiatives.
Name: Lashaun Jackson
Year/major at U-M: Junior / Program in the Environment (M) & Food (m)
Lashaun’s main project with the Student Sustainability Coalition (SSC) this summer was building a campus-wide, student-run carbon neutrality advocacy network. Lashaun and two other members of SSC facilitated discussions this summer so that student organizations around campus could discuss carbon neutrality and pursue their shared goal of helping U-M reach net zero carbon emissions. Her goals for this school year are to further connect with sustainability leaders across U-M Ann Arbor and at the other U-M campuses and increase the connection between students and the administrative leaders involved in carbon neutrality efforts at U-M.
Sustainability Insight: Many student groups across campus are fighting for a plethora of sustainability-related causes. When we form a shared, inclusive culture of sustainability, open conversations and meaningful collaboration will follow. To see the biggest impacts, sustainability must be a team effort!
Future Plans: Lashaun will continue her efforts with SSC during the school year. Through this, she will keep advocating for local carbon neutrality executives to take bold action.