2020 Transitions Lab

Student Engagement

2020 Sustainability Scholars

The Office of Sustainability (IUOS) and the Integrated Program in the Environment (IPE), with support from the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, are continuing the 2020 Sustainability Scholars program after experiencing great success during the 2015-2016 pilot year. The goal of this project is to provide a high quality research experience for approximately 15 freshman and sophomores in the area of sustainability. Students that are selected as 2020 Sustainability Scholars receive unprecedented access to world-class faculty in sustainability research; experience that is valued by employers and graduate schools; support from IPE and IUOS in refining their sustainability interests and future marketability; and the opportunity to grow critical thinking and analytical skills.

 

Requirements

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The students chosen as 2020 Sustainability Scholars will receive a $500 scholarship each semester, based on successful work with their assigned mentor. Students are required to:

  • Engage in 8-10 hours per week of research with their assigned mentor.
  • Attend the 2020 Sustainability Scholars orientation during the fall semester.
  • Begin meeting with their mentor mid-fall semester through the end of the spring semester.
  • Create an approved research work plan in collaboration with an assigned faculty mentor by the conclusion of the fall term.
  • Enroll in the 2-credit hour 2020 Sustainability Scholars course for the spring semester.
  • Present the findings of their research during the Spring Sustainability Symposium on April 7th, 2017.
Current Scholars

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Jennifer Bale
Research: Maintaining and Enhancing Color Fastness in Natural Dyes

Faculty Mentor: Carissa Carman
Jennifer Bale photo

Description: Natural Dyeing is a historical craft technique used in textiles throughout history and throughout the world. Museums maintain close controls on exposure to light and humidity to control preservations of objects from garments, carpets, basketry and embroidered accessories amongst other. Color Fastness in Fine Arts is an exciting and important discovery that enables ideas of disappearance and illusion. Maintaining a studio for students and in one’s own studio propels the inquiry for how to explore how well different fabrics hold color over time, and understanding what conditions and experiments can be used to do so. The selected undergraduate researcher will harvest plants propagated at Hilltop gardens and throughout Monroe county to use for natural dye sampling on various fabrics. The fabric tests can also be a combination of plants, thus generating new colors that have altered mordant processes and PH shifting. Dye swatches and recipes will be catalogued for their color and exposed to numerous conditions to test their color shift over time. This research will include hands on work with plant materials and natural dyeing in a fully equip dye lab. The supportive research is an investigation that will greatly benefit and be of interest to the School of Art and Design and for its programs in Fashion and in Textiles, as it relates to wearable cloth, weaving and soft sculpture. Results will also contribute to the exploration of natural dye propagation at Hilltop Gardens and their colorful possibilities.

Connie Chen 

Research: Estimating Energy Loss in the Water Distribution System at IUB

Mentor: Kan Shao, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Environmental Healthconnie-chen

Understanding and reducing various types of energy loss is an important topic and meaningful research
in sustainability. In this project we will focus on estimating the amount of wasted energy as heat loss in
the water distribution system at IU Bloomington campus. Water is heated and then distributed for
various domestic purposes, mainly including cleaning, bathing, cooking etc. However, when the heated
water is waiting in the distribution system (e.g., in the pipes) to be used, energy can be wasted as heat
loss though conduction, convection, and radiation. The key tasks of the project mainly involve taking and
measuring water sample, collecting data from other sources and analyzing the data. The goal of the
project is to provide a first-order estimation on the annual energy loss in the water distribution system
at IUB. The findings from this project can give us a sense about the seriousness of the problem and
provide us useful information for strategies to increase energy efficiency with the purpose of sustainable
development.
 

Claire Dorner
Research: Correcting Misperceptions of Energy and Water Use

Mentor: Dr. Shahzeen Attari, Assistant Professor, School of Public and Environmental Affairs Claire Dorner

Prior research has shown that people’s perceptions of energy and water use are marred by systematic and sometimes large inaccuracies. On average, water use is underestimated by a factor of 1.6 to 2, and energy use by a factor of 2.8 (Attari, 2014; Attari, DeKay, Davidson, & Bruine de Bruin, 2010). Why do people perceive water use more accurately than energy use? One reason why perceptions of water use are more accurate may be due to the consistent physical characteristics of water as opposed to energy, which is transformed based on the end-use activity (e.g., heating, cooling, lighting, motion). Another reason for greater accuracy for water use is that most Americans make decisions about gallons of liquid nearly every day, e.g., buying gasoline or milk, therefore the unit of measurement may be much more familiar for water use than for energy use. These suggested hypotheses still remain to be tested. Here, we first focus on correcting misperceptions of energy use by testing the effect of different anchors on the estimation task. We then aim to explore how "manufactured heuristics" can improve perceptions and decision making for energy. Lastly, we aim to explore how these corrections translate to improving perceptions of water use.  
 

Alex Frank
Research:Weather Forecasting for IU Bloomington

Mentor: Dr. Paul Staten, Assistant Professor, Atmospheric Sciences, Department of Geological Sciences 
Alex Frank

How well can one trust a rain forecast in Bloomington? Can we do any better than the European or US national models do? In this project, Alex will visit the IU Big Red II supercomputer, and then use it to make daily regional weather forecasts. We’ll compare our forecasts with the national forecasts used by the National Weather Service. Finally, Alex will consult with campus operations, and create guidance products for their use – like evaporation rates, and heating-degree-days and cooling-degree-days – to be hosted online at http://atmos.indiana.edu/weather.

Emma Freestone
Research: Communicating Sustainability for IU and Beyond

Mentor: Brian Forist, Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism StuidesEmma Freestone

The IU Office of Sustainability (IUOS) is engaged in a variety of projects that would be well served by public communication, providing various stakeholders with accurate, timely, and compelling information. For example, the Bloomington Urban Woodlands Project (BUWP) of the IUOS works on ecological restoration of Dunn’s Woods on the IU campus. Some efforts at public communication have been conducted by the BUWP and as a service learning component of the Interpretation and Tour Guiding class (SPH-O 340). As another example, IUOS promotes a variety of events and ongoing efforts aimed at reducing energy use and waste generation on campus. This project would compile the public communication, conduct a content analysis of communication materials and methods, and test their use with different potential user groups (IU students from a variety of academic areas; IU faculty; IU staff; family visitors; etc.) 

Anna Groover
Research: From Pond to Plant: Utilizing Algae Bioreactors to Reduce IU’s Heating Plant Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Mentor: Stephen "Chip" Glaholt

Anna Groover

Reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is one of the most profound challenges facing us today., Our project seeks to address this challenge in a local, interdisciplinary, and collaborative manner that embodies the principles set forth in the goals of IUOS’s 2020 Vision and IU’s Bicentennial Priorities. Our proposal is designed to facilitate IU’s transition towards clean and renewable energy production through academic research by creating GHG-sequestering algae bioreactors at IUB’s Central Heating Plant (CHP). The process is relatively simple: columns of water seeded with algae are used to sequester the GHG carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted from the CHP. The pumped-in CO2 is taken up by the algae during photosynthesis to create more algal cells, thus sequestering carbon (C) and creating algal biomass that can be harvested and converted to biofuel for use at the CHP as a sustainable fuel source or as an organic bio-fertilizer on campus, community agricultural fields, orchards, and gardens.

Andrew Coleton Hast
Research: Sustaining biocultural diversity: A comparative analysis of biocultural approaches to conservation

Mentor:David Stringer, Associate Professor, Second Language StudiesAC Hast

The world is currently witnessing a mass extinction of indigenous languages and biological species, with particularly dramatic effects in tropical ecosystems. As the same geographical areas tend to be hotspots for both language diversity and biodiversity, many current conservation projects attempt to integrate these ideas in the concept of biocultural diversity, such that support for endangered cultures is tied to the conservation of ecosystems. The selected student will contrast and compare a number of such projects, either led by NGOs or by indigenous communities, in order to identify common factors involved in the success or failure of the projects. The project sourcebook by Maffi & Woodley (2010), which identifies and describes but does not analyze over 40 such projects, will be a springboard for the analysis. This project will apply systems thinking in an attempt to identify appropriate places to intervene in complex social systems, so as to inform future work in sustaining biocultural diversity.

Brina Jenkins
Research: Historical Ecology of the Campus

Mentor: Dr. Jim Capshew, Department of History and Philosophy of Science and MedicineBrina Jenkins

The IU Bloomington campus is where we work, where many of us live, and we are all fortunate to spend time on a campus that is nationally recognized for its natural beauty. But, what do we know about the origins of the campus landscape and how does that inform future decisions about the campus? Brina will be involved in an ongoing research project to document the biological, environmental, and human history of the IU Bloomington campus, from 1883 to the present.  The goal of the project is to strengthen sense of place in the IU community, a key feature of sustainability.  Among the major analytic themes are: biological inventory of land purchases and changing uses; the origins and extensions of the “woodland campus” idea; changing perceptions of the campus design; and the intertwined roles of greenscape and architecture.  Among other sources, the student will be using valuable collections in the IU Archives. 

Nicole LaRue 

Research: Exploring the Potential for Geothermal Heat Pump Systems on the IU Campuses

Mentors: Kevin Ellett, Research Scientist, Indiana Geological Survey, Shawn Naylor, Director, Center for Geospatial Data Analysis, Indiana Geological SurveyNicole LaRue

Institutions of higher education are proving to be world leaders in the sustainability movement, including the implementation of geothermal heat pump technology to achieve dramatic reductions in energy use and the carbon footprint of buildings. In Indiana, Ball State University has recently completed the world’s largest district geothermal heating and cooling system with this shift towards renewable energy expected to cut the university’s carbon footprint in half while saving $2 million a year in operating costs. The principal challenge with geothermal technology is the higher initial capital expense (CAPEX) requirement, thus geothermal may be a smart solution for IU if it is economically competitive with other options such as solar or wind-based renewable energy. This project will explore the suitability of implementing geothermal technology at IU by building off our recent research suggesting that enhanced geological characterization during the system design phase can lead to significant CAPEX cost savings. The project will involve creating a three-dimensional model of the geology underlying IU’s Bloomington campus and analyzing samples from the Indiana Geological Survey’s extensive rock core library to develop a database of critical geothermal parameters. Results will be incorporated into a broader geothermal feasibility analysis for IU with a targeted publication date of summer 2017.

Rachel Morris
Research: Picturing Sustainable and Unsustainable Behaviors, Practices, and Policy

Mentors:Norman Su, Assistant Professor of Informatics, Eli Blevis, Professor of Informatics Rachel Morris

In the fields of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and Interaction Design, there is a recent trend to accept pictorial forms of knowledge building as a recognized form of contribution. The new form is called pictorial format. The definition of a pictorial (as proposed by Blevis, Hauser, and Odom) is: A pictorial is an essay in which the photographs (or pictures) are more important than the text. In a pictorial the text illustrates the photographs, rather than the photographs the text. The images in a pictorial should most commonly be the work of the authors, just as you would expect the text of a paper to be mostly the work of the authors. Pictorials as a form emerge in keeping with HCI’s increasing confluence with Design as it owes to traditional disciplines of design. The pictorials format represents an acceptance of visual forms of recording design practices and constructing design knowledge as archival (i.e. knowledge building) forms of research and scholarship. Some of the premier research venues in HCI have started to accept pictorials into the regular, competitive (acceptance rates < 25%), double-blind peer-reviewed archival technical programs. Please see http://www.dis2016.org/call-for- papers/pictorials/ for example). The goal of this project is to create and submit for review (at least one) pictorial format contribution that advances our understanding of sustainable and unsustainable behaviors, practices, and policies, particularly with some relationship to digital interactivity.

Lindsey Nelson
Research: Interdisciplinary Assessment of the Desired Future Condition of the Jordan River

Mentor: Dr. Stephanie Kane, Professor, International Studies  Lindsey Nelson

Students, faculty and staff walk by the Jordan River daily as they conduct their business on campus. But, what does the Jordan River mean to the campus community, and how does our view of it shape its future? The goal of this project is to understand current campus-wide perceptions of the Jordan River and identify a preferred future condition for the river. Lindsey will use current information on the biological, chemical, structural condition of the river to engage members of the IU community in discussions about the desired future condition of the Jordan River.

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Mary Owens
Research: Bloomington Campus Tree Inventory

Mentors: Justin Maxwell, Tom Evans 
Mary Owens

Bloomington’s campus includes thousands of trees that are a critical resource. Imagine what our campus would look like with 50% or even 15% fewer trees… The campus would be more barren, we’d lack shade in the summer and soil erosion would be an even bigger problem in the Jordan “River”. The IU campus is widely recognized as one of the most aesthetically pleasing in the Midwest making management of campus trees a critical task. Monitoring a campus with thousands of trees is not simple. Periodic storms, drought events and pest related mortality mean that the campus tree canopy undergoes considerable change from year to year. This project will continue past efforts to monitor this critical campus resource through development and maintenance of a campus tree database. The Sustainability Scholar will work to update an existing tree inventory and perform analysis to understand what parts of campus are undergoing the most change (positive or negative) and how the species distribution has changed over time.

Jared Schwartz
Research: Crop Support Versus Food Aid: An International Comparison

Mentor: Dr. Dan Knudsen, Department of GeographyJared Schwartz

In the United States, one omnibus piece of legislation, the U.S. Farm Bill, allocates government spending for a vast array of agricultural and consumer activities, including both crop support (i.e. commodity programs, crop insurance) as well as food aid (i.e., food stamps, food pantries). Today, approximately 80% of Farm Bill related spending is in the form of food aid. Crop support within the Farm Bill has traditionally focused on commodity crops (corn, soybeans, wheat, cotton, and rice), which are primarily used as livestock feed and/or ingredients in highly processed foods.  In the U.S., rates of obesity and diet-related illnesses are highest among low-income households receiving food aid, and many scholars have argued that this is at least in part a result of the close coupling of food aid and commodity support within a single federal government department, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). Indeed, historically food aid programs within the US have served to regulate the prices of commodity crops by alleviating excess supply. This conflict of interests within the USDA has led to both an unsustainable food system (in that it abets input-intensive, extensive mono-crop agriculture) and one that is unjust (the less fortunate economically are also most prone to have diet-related illnesses). The purpose of this research is to understand: 1. At the level of the nation-state how common or uncommon it is to have food aid and crop support programs within the same government entity; 2. In those nations in which crop support and food aid are handled by different government entities, is the food system more sustainable and just; and 3. What evidence exists that better sustainability and justice outcomes are related to the separation of crop support and food aid within the government. The study will focus on the 19 largest economies in the world. Results will contribute to a better understanding of the food system globally, but especially in the US. 

Lucas Stegemiller
Research: Electric Vehicle Diffusion in Major U.S. Cities 

Mentors: Sanya Carley (SPEA) and Sean Nicholson-Crotty (SPEA)
Stegemiller

This research project focuses on the diffusion of plug-in electric vehicles (PEV) across the United States. The aspect of the project on which the sustainability scholar will take the lead is the study of PEV developments in selected U.S. cities. More specifically, the project will evaluate the following questions:
1. What are the political, social, and economic considerations surrounding PEVs in U.S. cities?
2. How are stakeholders contributing (or not) to PEV technology deployment?
3. How is policy information communicated among networks of technology stakeholders, and how does this information exchange influence PEV deployment?
This research effort will require in-depth case studies in eight U.S. cities. These case studies will involve secondary data gathering of descriptive information—such as policies in place, PEVs offered in dealerships, who is involved in PEV activities, and other details—as well as primary data gathering through semi-structured phone interviews with involved stakeholders.

Paige Wells
Research: Sustainable hearing protection interventions for rural adolescent farmworkers in Indiana

Mentor:Dr. Khalid Khan, Assistant Professor, Environmental Health,School of Public Health - IUB
Paige Wells

Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) remains a major public health challenge in
agricultural communities and is one of the top-ranked self-reported occupational health outcomes in the United States. Adolescent farmworkers are at high risk of loud noise exposure due to engaging in farm task, such as running tractors, grain dryers, and chain saws, and a lack of training about hearing protection while attending schools. One approach to encourage the use of hearing protection devices, has been the use of educational programs or interventions to educate farmers of different age groups. Only a small number of intervention studies have been implemented for rural children and adolescent farmers. This project will assess the current knowledge and attitude levels regarding hearing protection use and the feasibility of different formats of hearing protection interventions among the high-school adolescent farmworkers from different regions of Indiana. We will collect data by traveling to different rural high schools across the state and conducting interviews and questionnaires about the different educational interventions (classroom-based and technology-based). This will help determine which type of type educational intervention is most effective, while also providing context for improved understanding of the intersections of labor, environment, and rural health in Indiana.Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) remains a major public health challenge in agricultural communities and is one of the top-ranked self-reported occupational health outcomes in the United States. Adolescent farmworkers are at high risk of loud noise exposure due to engaging in farm task, such as running tractors, grain dryers, and chain saws, and a lack of training about hearing protection while attending schools. One approach to encourage the use of hearing protection devices, has been the use of educational programs or interventions to educate farmers of different age groups. Only a small number of intervention studies have been implemented for rural children and adolescent farmers. This project will assess the current knowledge and attitude levels regarding hearing protection use and the feasibility of different formats of hearing protection interventions among the high-school adolescent farmworkers from different regions of Indiana. We will collect data by traveling to different rural high schools across the state and conducting interviews and questionnaires about the different educational interventions (classroom-based and technology-based). This will help determine which type of type educational intervention is most effective, while also providing context for improved understanding of the intersections of labor, environment, and rural health in Indiana.

2020 Scholars In The News

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IU Student Experience: "Undergrads tackle research with faculty mentors through 2020 Sustainability Scholars Program"

IU Through The Gates: "Research Notes: Analyzing water quality - as a freshman."

Policy Briefings: "Sustainability Scholar takes on tough transportation challenge"

Science at Work: "IU sophomore on 'front end' of sustainability research on bird migration, climate."

7th & Jordan:‚ "Olivia Ranseen: Bringing sustainability from backstage to center stage"

Inside IUB: "IU freshman and SPEA professor collaborate on sustainable brewing research"

Former 2020 Sustainability Scholars

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  • 2015-2016 Scholars
    • Katharine Adams
    • Corben Andrews
    • Lia Bobay
    • Claire Burdette
    • Eric Gu
    • Rose Kaforski
    • Halley Rose Meslin
    • Jacob Mills
    • Katherine Nicholson
    • Megan Poff
    • Ellen Potocsnak
    • Olivia Ranseen
    • Kim Novick
    • Janine Tang
    • Abby Zielinski