2009 Sustainability Leadership Award Winners


Student Award

Margaret Tran, Senior in Environmental Studies, Minor in Economics: In addition to her involvement in student organizations and efforts to raise awareness about issues of sustainability, Margaret is a coordinator for EARTH, a program of the Center for Community Outreach that oversees the campus garden. Over the past few years, she has coordinated a volunteer effort to tend a vegetable garden on campus and donate produce to feed those in need. She is an inspiration to other students and, as one nominator wrote, "lives her commitment" to sustainability.

Staff Award

Easan Selvan, Systems Specialist, Student Success Technology Services: Easan played a key role in creating and implementing the SSTS conservation policy which makes duplexing the default for printers and sets computers to hibernate after a period of inactivity. If fully implemented, the project could save over $29,000 in energy costs and reduced carbon dioxide emissions by an amount equivalent to removing more than 51 cars from the road. View the policy here. 



Faculty Award

Simran Sethi, Associate Professor, School of Journalism and Mass Communication: Simran Sethi was recognized for her efforts to raise awareness and inspire action both in the classroom and the broader community. Her commitment to sustainability and service learning help students make real world connections to environmental issues and support the local community. Outside of the classroom, Simran is a member of Lawrence's Sustainability Advisory Board, is writing a book on contemporary environmentalism, and blogs for The Huffington Post and Alternet, stimulating a national dialogue about sustainability.

Student Initiative

Potter Lake Project: this project started as a report outlining the conditions of Potter Lake and providing a list of the most cost-effective, sustainable, and historically compatible restorative solutions to improve this campus icon. With funding support from KU alumni, volunteers have installed aerators to improve oxygen levels and removed several tons of vegetation. A surface skimmer has also been purchased to aid this process. The Potter Lake Project is a strong example of a student-initiated project that has garnered support from multiple departments throughout campus, including Design and Construction Management, Facilities Operations Landscaping, and the Kansas Biological Survey, as well as volunteer assistance from faculty, staff, and students. Click here to read more about this project. 

Academic Project

EcoHawks: The KU EcoHawks are applying engineering principles to solve real-world problems, focusing on the interconnectedness of the environment, energy, economy, education and ethics. Last year, this senior design project converted a 1974 Volkswagen into a series hybrid vehicle that can run on 100% biodiesel. Theoretical computations indicate the vehicle should achieve over 50 mpg, which is an 80% increase over the original design. The car has also been designed to accept other power generation units so it could operate using different fuels such as ethanol or Compressed Natural Gas. This year the class is implementing small scale radio control (RC) car testing into the program. Teams of EcoHawks will design and build 1/8th scale vehicles in order to explore battery, motor and material technology. This will allow students to test the limits of advanced battery and even superconductor technology to explore new possibilities. 

EcoHawks is led by Chris Depcik, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering. Since coming to KU in 2008, Chris has maintained successful research on reducing vehicle emissions and has been involved in a number collaborative projects with faculty from Chemical Engineering, Business and Environmental Engineering. He also participated in a Center for Sustainability working group that focused on developing concepts for a multi-disciplinary course in sustainability. 

Congratulations to our award winners and to all of the incredible nominees that are making a difference here at KU! 


Past Award Recipients

To find out about past recipients of the Sustainability Leadership Award, click on the year below.

Coronavirus Update

As part of our efforts to reduce an on-campus presence and promote social distancing, KU Surplus is ceasing all operations and KU Recycling is limiting any special collections that are not mission critical. For more information, email us at sustainability@ku.edu

Sustainability Plan

KU Bike Plan

KU Bike Plan

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