2017 Award Recipients

Student Leadership Award: Sierra Marteine Two Bulls, Masters Candidate, Social Work

Sierra Marteine Two Bulls receives this year’s Student Leadership award based on her commitment to social and environmental justice through her role as an organizing member of the KU First Nations Student Association (FNSA) and her activism for protecting water resources, particularly as it pertains to Standing Rock activism in North Dakota. Sierra worked with FSNA to collect donations, including food and supplies, for the Standing Rock Sioux protestors, who acted to halt the Dakota Access Pipeline. She delivered the donations to the tribe members on four separate occasions during the fall semester. Sierra also collaborated with Haskell University students to organize the Lawrence Stands with Standing Rock Solidarity March. Sierra will graduate in May 2017 and hopes to work within the Indian Health Service system to treat indigenous people who have experienced historical traumas, which are closely tied to environmental issues they have endured.

Undergraduate Scholarship Award: Ike Uri, Senior, Sociology

Ike Uri is the winner of the Sustainability Leadership Award for Undergraduate Scholarship. Along with his work as the Executive Director of the CCO, Ike has conducted research on food insecurity and hunger at KU. Ike’s research included a survey that measures food security status using a standard USDA module, also collecting information on demographics, finances, and health. Ike’s study found that 54 percent of KU students are food insecure, and 35 have ‘very low food insecurity,’ which means they often reduce caloric intake due to a lack of money. These data indicate that food insecurity is associated with long-term health problems and negative mental health outcomes.  Ike’s research is the first study on food insecurity among KU students. 

Graduate Scholarship Award: Pallavi Bobba, Doctoral Candidate, Center for Environmentally Beneficial Catalysis

Pallavi Bobba, doctoral student in Chemical Engineering, is one of two Graduate Scholarship Award winners. Pallavi’s research focuses on the three P’s of sustainability: people, planet and profits. She is tackling the synthesis route for a solvent that is used to make polycarbonate plastics and lithium ion batteries, two popular man-made products with multi-million dollar revenue streams. The goals of her research include reducing or eliminating toxic waste and hazardous materials, while also conserving energy and improving safety. Countless consumer products, construction materials, and automotive parts depends on the man-made products associated with Pallavi’s research, so her findings have the potential to significantly benefit society and curb ecological burdens.

Graduate Scholarship Award: Frank Cabano, Doctoral Candidate, Business

Our second Graduate Scholarship Award goes to Frank Cabano, doctoral student in Marketing at the KU School of Business.  Frank’s research in environmental psychology examines factors that influence people’s willingness to make sustainable choices. His paper investigating the effects of people’s religion on their responses to the threat of climate makes a significant contribution to the literature, helping us understand how we can better frame messages about climate change to diverse audiences. Frank has also been conducting research investigating the extent to which identifying oneself as an environmentalist influences the likelihood of engaging in pro-environmental behavior.  This research highlights that, contrary to conventional wisdom, celebrating pro-environmental actions may not encourage everyone to engage in these behaviors. 

Faculty Leadership Award: Dr. Brian Rock, Associate Professor, Architectural Engineering

Dr. Brian Rock, associate professor for Architectural Engineering (ARCE), has been a member of the faculty since 1992 and has been a strong advocate for holistic, effective building design, construction, and operation. Professor Rock has taught and guided research in renewable energy, indoor environmental quality, fire protection, and many other related undergraduate and graduate courses. In particular, he has been teaching a solar course for 25 years (ARCE 665: Solar Energy Systems Design), where his students constructed a solar-thermal energy system that heated a laboratory in Marvin Studios for 20 years. He also teaches HVAC courses and water courses, where he places much emphasis on practical and effective ways to reduce energy consumption and CO2 production, conserve water, and reuse greywater. Dr. Brian Rock's recognition is well-deserved for his career-long efforts to create effective change.

Staff Leadership Award: Cynthia Perez, Administrative Assistant, Chemical & Petroleum Engineering

Cynthia Perez has done an amazing job of bringing sustainability awareness to the Chemical & Petroleum Engineering Department. As the Administrative Assistant, Cynthia has added recycling bins to common spaces, donated reusable dishes and thus reduced plasticware waste, advocated for energy conservation by switching off lights, and plans to make the department paperless within a year or two! Her dedication and enthusiasm is inspiring and motivating to her coworkers. Her actions have started a ripple effect that is resulting in KU School of Engineering being a more sustainable office environment.

Departmental Leadership Award: KU School of Business

The KU School of Business has been a leader in recycling and sustainability for a number of years. Specifically, last year, they made a major effort in waste reduction during their move from Summerfield Hall to Capitol Federal Hall with the diversion of over 10 tons of material from the landfill through recycling and surplus efforts. Before they were even settled in their new home, the KU School of Business, under the leadership of James Guthrie, agreed to pilot the new Centralized Waste and Recycling program that is now being deployed campus wide. In their continuing effort to provide a sustainable experience to students, faculty, and staff, as well as visitors to campus, the KU School of Business is leading in sustainable event management. They regularly provide recycling and compost options at events held in Capitol Federal Hall. 

Leadership Project Award: Courtside Cafe

Opened in the spring of 2016, the Courtside Café located inside the DeBruce Center has a number of features that make it a model of sustainability within the KU Dining portfolio. In conjunction with project architect, Gould Evans, KU Dining saw sustainability as a guiding principle from the start of the project to completion. From utilizing the most current technology in the areas of energy, water, and waste reduction to partnering with local food producers at the two self-branded concepts, Prairie Fire Grill and Sunflower BBQ, Courtside Café is changing the way the campus community and KU Dining looks at sustainability. 

Social Justice Award: Chris Ash, Senior, Political Science and Psychology

The 2017 Social Justice Award goes to Chris Ash, a senior in Political Science and Psychology. Throughout his time at KU, Chris has demonstrated his commitment to social justice through academic research and community engagement. He has conducted research on security, privacy, and surveillance as related to race and gender. He is also a member of the KU branch for the Willow Domestic Violence organization, where he advocates for eliminating domestic violence.  Outside of school he works as a youth minister, challenging his students to be better people, excepting of all others, and to make a difference wherever they go. Chris has also connected his fraternity to volunteer opportunities to both raise awareness and help address the needs of individuals with disabilities. And this spring, his efforts to make a difference are going international as he will be traveling to Panama on a KU Human Rights Brigade trip, where he will be working with underprivileged populations to provide legal support on family and land rights cases.

Energy Conservation Award: Tony Nubile, Facilities Manager, KU Edwards Campus

Tony Nubile is the Facilities Manager at the KU Edwards Campus and was selected as the Energy Conservation award winner based on his leadership in promoting sustainability and energy initiatives. Tony reconfigured the computer-controlled lighting system to optimize electricity use and savings. He has been instrumental in switching to LED lamps across all four buildings at Edwards Campus, resulting in compounding energy savings. Edwards Campus has seen energy savings of over $27,800 compared to its 2013 baseline, due in large part to Tony’s efforts and leadership. Tony also serves as part of a team investigating the feasibility of installing a solar PV system at Edwards. Additionally, Tony has placed over 100 recycling bins in offices, common spaces, and public spaces, helped lobby KCP&L to install six electric vehicle charging stations at Edwards Campus, and encouraged office units to participate in the Green Office initiative. Tony has been described as a prime mover in sustainability efforts at the Edwards Campus!


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