Undergrads tackle research with faculty mentors through 2020 Sustainability Scholars program

When IU freshman Kate Adams came to campus, she already had some research experience under her belt.

Sustainability Scholars

IU freshman Kate Adams and Sanya Carley, associate professor at the School of Public and Environmental Affairs. | Photo by IU Communications.

But the international studies major was pleasantly surprised when she became a Sustainability Scholar, allowing her not only to conduct research during her freshman year of college but to do so in a setting that is not your typical research lab.

“It really enriches my IU experience and puts me ahead of the curve,” said Adams, whose research project looks at sustainability potential in U.S. breweries.

Adams is one of 15 undergraduates chosen to take part in the 2020 Sustainability Scholars program through the IU Office of Sustainability and the Integrated Program in the Environment. The program, which launched in the fall of 2015 with support from the Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, pairs undergraduates with faculty mentors from multiple disciplines to conduct high-quality research in the area of sustainability.

“This program provides so many valuable opportunities for freshmen and sophomores — the opportunity to work closely with our outstanding faculty, to explore a broad range of sustainability research and research methods, and to learn about how their own unique skills and abilities might contribute to sustainability,” said Andrew Predmore, associate director of the Office of Sustainability.

Students and mentors were paired in the fall and have tackled a variety of issues and topics such as transportation, IU’s food system, solar energy and bird migration.

“This program reaches students at an early stage of their academic career, so it is helps them refine not only their interest in research but their specific sustainability interests,” said Sarah Mincey, associate director of the Integrated Program in the Environment. “It helps them find the right degree program, often one of the many degree programs the Integrated Program in the Environment represents — environmental and sustainability studies, environmental science or management, or outdoor recreation, parks and human ecology, for example.”


IU sophomore Lia Bobay and postdoctoral research associate Adam Fudickar capture and tag birds at the Kent Farm Banding Station as part of the 2020 Sustainability Scholars program. | Photo by IU Communications

As part of the 2020 Sustainability Scholars program, students were required to complete a research work plan and enroll in a class that explores sustainability research methods. Students will wrap up their work April 29 with a poster presentation at the Office of Sustainability’s annual Spring Sustainability Symposium.

“The world needs leadership in sustainability, and I hope that between the Sustainability Scholars program and our established internship program that we are providing more and more IU students with the opportunity to grow their knowledge and leadership capacity in sustainability,” Predmore said.

Read more about five of the projects highlighted by the IU newsroom and the provost’s office:

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