2020 Award Recipients
Earth, Program Award, KU Center for Community Outreach
For more than 10 years, KU CCO's Earth program has mobilized KU volunteers to further sustainability on and off campus. They host trash pickups after game days, coordinate Cans for Community donations, and run the Campus Garden, which donated over 500 pounds of organic produce to KU Campus Cupboard this year alone. They also work with numerous other community partners for trail building and garden maintenance. This spring, they worked to deliver seeds to KU students who would like to grow their own mini-gardens and provided remote assistance. Within the first 24 hours of posting a seed survey to begin the remote gardening program, they had over 100 responses from KU students and staff. Earth not only engages students but also community partners like Cans for Community, Campus Cupboard, Youth O'Connel Ranch, the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department, and the Kansas Trails Council. They have been intentional in involving affected populations by working with customers at the Campus Cupboard to identify the types of produce customers say they would most like to see and planting the most requested produce at the campus garden.
David Sconyers, Student Award, PhD candidate, Chemistry
David recently completed his PhD on the topic of carbon dioxide conversion into fuels. His research could directly impact new technologies for the conversion of CO2 into more useful fuels and chemicals, using a process that could be transformative in terms of reducing the impact of the catalysts normally used in conversion. This work will not only expand opportunities for future research at KU, but it has led to collaborative projects outside the university that could improve sustainability in the petrochemicals industry. David's work has been a shining inspiration to students and staff in the Department of Chemistry and the Center for Environmentally Beneficial Catalysis, encouraging others to work on sustainability-related chemistry and even mentoring other students who are interested in practical or "real-world" chemistry. Since the impacts of climate change are so strongly linked to issues of inequity and injustice, David’s work in advancing technologies to reduce carbon emissionscould ultimately help alleviate these disproportionate impacts on historically underserved areas of the globe.
Mary Bujnak, Staff Award, Administrative Assistant, KU Edwards Campus
Mary's efforts with sustainability on the Edwards Campushave resulted in substantial improvements to energy efficiency, recycling, and sustainability education. Mary has contributed to the sustainability features in the built environment at the Edwards Campus such as electric vehicle charging stations, LED lighting, occupancy sensors and efficient equipment. She has been the driving force behind the campus sustainability council and their initiatives such as improving opportunities for recycling. Mary is also champion for sustainability awareness,and regularly promotes education and responsible habits through presentations, newsletters, and the development of new training resources and engagement opportunities. In her responsibilities as an Event Coordinator, she practices and promotes sustainability when consulting with external event clients, including many area businesses and organizations. Mary's work has contributed to the Student Services Department being recognized as a KU Center for Sustainability Green Office in 2016, the Events Team & Front Desk Staff as a Green Office in 2017, and the entire Edwards Campus as a Green Office in 2018. She also played an important role in the Edwards Campus receiving R5 Certification from the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment by helping the Edwards campus achieve the five R’s promoted by that program: Reinvest, Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. Mary is a constant steward of responsible and respectful living, and actively searches for opportunities to engage and collaborate with different individuals, groups, departments, and external organizations. Through her dedication and leadership, there has been a substantial shift in the way Edwards Campus students, faculty, staff, event clients, and community members perceive sustainability and the impact each of us has on the community and the environment.
Belinda Sturm, Faculty Award, Environmental Engineering
Water is essential for all life, and KU environmental engineering professor Belinda Sturm is doing her part to ensure its health. Belinda’s research over the years has focused on recovering nutrients and higher value products like biofuels and biochar from wet waste, particularly through the cultivation of algae in wastewater to create alternatives to fertilizer, reducing the release of excess nutrients into our waterways, and considering how microplastics could be removed at wastewater treatment plants. Her expertise is being applied in Lawrence and throughout the state of Kansas as she consults with the City wastewater division and works with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to develop sustainable water use policies and water management plans. Belinda’s contributions have been highly notable in building collaborative networks and pushing KU’s research capacity by linking interdisciplinary teams across the university. She is also an incredible mentor inspiring future generations to innovate within and beyond their field oftentimes leading by example by lending a hand – and getting her own hands dirty. As a female and first-generation college graduate, Belinda is an underrepresented minority in her field and actively recruits and mentors other women and underrepresented minority students and junior faculty from across campus. She also advocates and promotes diversity and inclusion at each of her research centers. One graduate student noted that “She is a model for women in STEM, and everyone at the cutting edge of discovering sustainability practices and the long-term consequences of humans on our most precious resource, water."
Jasmin Moore, Alumni Award, Sustainability Director at Douglas County/City of Lawrence
Jasmin has done incredible things to advance work in energy efficiency, climate change, food policy, and everything in between, whether working within the local government she serves or through broader, regional partnerships. In Douglas County, she’s led the push to source 60% of the energy used by county facilities through the purchase of wind energy as well as efforts for the City of Lawrence to commit to renewable energy by 2035. She also has worked with Deerfield Elementary and the US Green Building Council to help develop a sustainability plan for the school to help measure and address food, water and energy waste. Jasmin is also engaged in efforts to address equity and public health in our community. She is a founding member of the recently formed Douglas County Equity Coalition, which brings together institutions such as local governments, universities, school districts, hospitals, and nonprofits. She is also a member of Lawrence Douglas County Public Health’s Community Health Plan steering committee, co-chairs the Health Equity workgroup and is a member of the anti-poverty workgroup. In 2017, the Urban Sustainability Directors Network invited Jasmin to serve on a national steering committee to develop and execute the first Sustainability Fellowship program designed to encourage more people of color to pursue careers in sustainability. Jasmin convened a team that developed criteria for the fellowship, prioritizing diversity and developing a pipeline of talented, high skilled professionals of color to serve in local government sustainability programs.