Funded Distinguished Awards Projects

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2017

 

This project focuses on assessing and measuring non-economic loss and damage (NELD) from climate change or other environmental stress as experienced by marginalized communities. The project and methodology were built in partnership with the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa in northern Wisconsin. The project team conducted ethnographic interviews with tribal members to identify potential adverse health impacts, reduction in biodiversity, loss of indigenous knowledge, as well as the loss of identity or sense of place resulting from the destruction of culturally important landscapes or built sites. By analyzing these oral histories, the team plans to create a final report to both inform policy-makers and establish a community archive. The team is also exploring the feasibility of developing a methodology to assess non-economic loss and damage, thereby informing adaptation and mitigation strategies that minimize the consequences of climate change.

 

Project Overview

 


The Belding Community Youth Food Collaborative is a student-led, 12-week youth empowerment and market-based program for high school-aged students. Accepted student-leaders took charge of six garden plots at the local community garden to gain horticultural and leadership skills over the course of the summer. Student leaders also utilized the Teen Market Garden curriculum to create a business plan for the produce and herbs grown and took part in healthy living seminars. Students measurably increased their knowledge of organic agriculture and culinary practices and were exposed to a wide variety of new ideas and food stewards in their community, increasing awareness and interest in the field. The student leaders took the lead on continuing responsibility for the garden through fall 2017 and a 2018 iteration of the program.

Project Overview

 

 

This project seeks to identify sustainable solutions to design challenges identified in Dolatpura, India, namely a stove design widely used in the local community and a toilet system. The new stove design aims to reduce smoke and increase efficiency. Implemented in collaboration with a partner family, the team is working with them on design applications throughout the community. The toilet project has also been implemented and provides a more comfortable and sanitary waste management system. The team is currently collecting data on its functionality and monitoring for any new design problems.

 

Project Overview

 


The objective of this project is to build a solar-powered drip irrigation system on a school farm in Liberia, addressing the local scarcity of energy, water, and food. The team first designed and developed a prototype system in Ann Arbor, MI, after a literature review of the subject. The team partnered with the Christian Revival Church Association and spent two weeks in Liberia installing the drip-irrigation portion of the project on one acre of cropland. The drip-irrigation system began operating in October 2017, watering one acre of crops for over 100 days. Implementation of the solar-powered component is still ongoing, with another trip to the site to complete the system planned for 2018.

Project Overview

 


This study attempts to analyze the correlation between deforestation, soy production and processing, and human quality of life development near the port town of Santarem, Brazil. The town has been the location of a Cargill soy processing plant since 2003. The group has completed research on the historical and legal contexts surrounding soy harvesting and processing in the area. They have also conducted background research on ecosystem loss in the Amazon and its correlation with economic and societal development. The teams next steps will be to travel to Brazil and meet with local non-profits working in the area. During that time, they will collect data to complete a regression analysis.

Project Overview

 

 

Driving Hope seeks to empower vulnerable families and individuals in Washtenaw County by providing low-cost automotive service and advice to those with a demonstrated need for financial aid and transportation. Clients are charged only for the parts needed for the repair; all labor costs are waived. The team has partnered with the local non-profit Grace Ann Arbor to ensure that the project is sustainable for the long-term. Driving Hope currently has a fully operational and insured garage and is prepared and equipped to provide services pending referrals, which will be provided by SOS Community Services and Friend InDeed. The team is also equipped to provide advice on new or used automotive purchases, including phone consultations and personal vehicle inspections.

 

Project Overview

 


Aquaponics, a system combining agriculture and aquaculture, is an alternative to conventional farming that could improve food-security and mitigate environmental impacts. By cycling water and nutrients within the system, aquaponics reduces water usage and removes the need for petroleum-based chemical fertilizers. However, the body of empirical peer-reviewed research on the economic and environmental viability of these systems is relatively scarce. This project would perform a scientific analysis of the inputs and outputs of a medium-scale aquaponics system growing tilapia and tomatoes by measuring the parameters of water and power usage per edible biomass harvested. The system is housed at the Matthaei Botanical Gardens and is projected to begin cycling water by mid-September.

Project Overview

 

 

Responsible recycling and disposal of products at their end-of-life is important to protect valuable and finite resources as well as for the maintenance of the environment. Many non-profit organizations that make money by reselling products receive many items that are unusable. This project established a cross-disciplinary sustainability consulting firm on the U-M campus aimed at helping community non-profits improve their sustainable culture and practices. Much of the team’s recent work has focused on building a relationship with the Kiwanis Club of Ann Arbor to gain a greater understanding of past practices and possible future improvements. Currently, the team is working on outreach to recruit new members to diversify the team and continue researching possibilities for improved recycling streams to augment current practices.

 

Project Overview

 

Dow Distinguished Award - the third-place winning team receives $10,000 in addition to $5,000 Seed Grant

The project began as an extension of the 2016-2017 Dow Masters Fellowship project, see: Sink Your Teeth Into Sustainability. Building on the recommendations developed for dental professionals seeking to improve the environmental sustainability of their clinics, the initial phase of this project focused on a database to better assist dentists in their pursuit of sustainability.

Additional funding will support the analysis of a case study to recycle gloves at the University of Michigan Dental Clinic, open to faculty, staff, students and the general public. This effort alone has the potential to divert an estimated 2,000 lbs. of waste annually for the landfill. The team will also focus on conducting surveys of other dental clinics, and support and promote a website with recommendations and resources to improve the sustainability of their clinic.

To foster high-impact sustainability collaborations across U-M, Dow Distinguished Awards for Sustainability supports applied sustainability projects across all disciplines and includes students at all academic levels. Projects are student-led, faculty advised, and action-oriented, outlining a new product, service, or project to protect the environment and enhance the quality of life for present and future generations. Projects span the full breadth of sustainability topics, including but not limited to energy, water, communities, food, built environment, transportation, etc. The Distinguished Awards is part of the Dow Sustainability Fellows Program at the University of Michigan, supported by The Dow Chemical Company Foundation.

Learn MoreDistinguished Awards

Project Overview

 

 

Distinguished Award Winner - First-place award-winning team receives $35,000, in addition to $5,000 Seed Grant

Ocupação Anchieta, an area located in the Grajaú district, southwest of São Paulo, Brazil, where a lack of proper waste management threatens the water supply and the health of the community. Initially, the student team developed sustainable land stewardship strategies, including support to create a multipurpose cultural and educational center to engage community members.

The additional $35K will support communications efforts, including a website and dissemination of a publication promoting resilient communities to improve the quality of life for area residents. The team will focus on the development of a cluster of housing prototypes. The housing cluster will be connected to a sewage biodigester. The team will also implement landscape practices to address storm water management.

To foster high-impact sustainability collaborations across U-M, Dow Distinguished Awards for Sustainability supports applied sustainability projects across all disciplines and includes students at all academic levels. Projects are student-led, faculty advised, and action-oriented, outlining a new product, service, or project to protect the environment and enhance the quality of life for present and future generations. Projects span the full breadth of sustainability topics, including but not limited to energy, water, communities, food, built environment, transportation, etc. The Distinguished Awards is part of the Dow Sustainability Fellows Program at the University of Michigan, supported by The Dow Chemical Company Foundation.

Learn More: Distinguished Awards

Project Overview

 

Dow Distinguished Award - Second-place award-winning team receives $30,000 in addition to $5,000 Seed Grant 

This team demonstrated that solar-powered electric vehicles could assist rural residents in sub-Saharan Africa and other developing regions of the world. The team developed a prototype for a solar bicycle electric trailer designed to carry food, wood, fertilizer and other goods. The trailer also has the additional benefit of providing cell phone charging and nighttime lighting to rural villages. Furthermore, the team will define a sustainable business model for manufacturing, distributing, and leasing such vehicles in villages and cities in Ghana.

The additional $30K will support project efforts to conduct road tests of the solar-powered vehicle, implement a smartphone app to assist riders, complete the design and build another prototype tailored for use in urban Ghana. The team will also quantify the environmental benefit of the solar mini electric vehicles and raise additional funds to perform tests in Accra, Ghana. Pratt & Miller Engineering (Lyon, Michigan) designed and manufactured the first prototype and will continue to work in partnership with the student team.

To foster high-impact sustainability collaborations across U-M, Dow Distinguished Awards for Sustainability supports applied sustainability projects across all disciplines and includes students at all academic levels. Projects are student-led, faculty advised, and action-oriented, outlining a new product, service, or project to protect the environment and enhance the quality of life for present and future generations. Projects span the full breadth of sustainability topics, including but not limited to energy, water, communities, food, built environment, transportation, etc. The Distinguished Awards is part of the Dow Sustainability Fellows Program at the University of Michigan, supported by The Dow Chemical Company Foundation.

Learn More: Distinguished Awards

Project Overview

 

 

The objective of this project is to build a solar-powered drip irrigation system on a school farm in Liberia, addressing the local scarcity of energy, water, and food. The team first designed and developed a prototype system in Ann Arbor, MI, after a literature review of the subject. The team partnered with the Christian Revival Church Association and spent two weeks in Liberia installing the drip-irrigation portion of the project on one acre of cropland. The drip-irrigation system began operating in October 2017, watering one acre of crops for over 100 days. Implementation of the solar-powered component is still ongoing, with another trip to the site to complete the system planned for 2018.

 

Project Overview

 

 

Zana Snacks is a new clean snacking brand that sells plant-based snacks made with organic ingredients and no added sugar and packaged in recyclable and compostable material. The team conducted extensive consumer research and product development supported by The Dow Chemical Company, including, interviews, surveys, and taste tests with over 100 participants. The result is two product lines and five flavors of healthy snacking products to fit consumer needs. Zana Snacks launched online sales in August 2017 and has earned nearly $1,500 in revenue to date. Next steps include increasing investment in marketing and production volume to increase financial efficiency while maintaining a focus on sustainability and minimizing environmental impacts.

 

Project Overview

 

2016

Team Members

Stuart Nath, and Daniel Choi

Advisor

Joseph Trumpey

Project Summary

The main goal for this project was to develop an outdoor aquaponics system capable of providing affordable, fresh food to communities in need. Aquaponics is a form of small-scale, sustainable urban agriculture that combines hydroponics (plants grown in water) and aquaculture (fish farming). The project team worked with residents in Southeast Michigan to implement aquaponics systems using outdoor gardens.

The team researched power consumption, production, and insulation capacity, and tailored the project to prepare installing a typical small scale aquaponics system. The project framework was designed to increase success by identifying an outdoor garden capable of surviving the winter. The team’s partner organization, Neighborhood B.U.G., has experience converting abandoned lots into community gardens in specific neighborhoods in Detroit. Aquaponics systems will be located in selected sites with the potential to provide food to people in need, as well as, job and educational opportunities for community members.

Project Overview

 

Team Members

Kyle Reynolds, Sai Sivakumar, Ellen Tilford, Garrett Prost, Adam Assink, Alec Distel, Allene McIlwain, Ashley Lee, Brigitte Smith, Charles Anderson, Jessica Borin, Kate Yuhas, Kevin Shen, Larissa Lu, Michael O’Connor, Paolo Romero, Rahul Gupta, Sara Palmerton, Sarah Bohen Shera Shevin

Advisor

Nathan Schell, Steven Skerlos

Project Summary

BLUElab NicarAGUA is a student organization that works with rainwater collection in rural Nicaragua. In the past year, with support from the Distinguished Award seed grant, the team has completed a needs assessment for Jicaral, Nicaragua. The goals of this project are two pronged, and include both engineering and education goals. The engineering goal is to build rainwater catchment, storage, and irrigation systems for various households throughout the community.

The education goal is to educate the residents on the use and repair of these systems, along with general water treatment and sanitation issues. The residents will be able to maintain existing systems, and implement more systems on their own in the future. The team is also developing curriculum resources for local children, focused on improving understanding of water sanitation and sustainability. Residents will be empowered with the knowledge and resources to maintain the systems and communicate to the community why the system is important. These educational efforts will help ensure the sustainable use of the rainwater system.

Project Overview

 

Team Members

Austin Martin, Carolina Maestri, Marlena Hanlon, Michael Lin

Advisor

Joseph Trumpey

Project Summary

Crow House is an urban settlement house model, using sustainability education and programming for community and personal development located in Detroit, Michigan. Co-created with the community, Crow House efforts focus on service learning to teach green retrofit and permaculture skills. The result is a perennial teaching site and community center.

This urban settlement model is applicable for other local, national, and global communities. The impact goals of the project include: 1) Restoring a historic home in the Detroit Landscape, 2) Modeling community organization, and becoming a hub for community organizers, 3) Becoming a center of learning uncommon “green” skills, 4) Serving as a community resource of health, organic, sustainable fruit and produce, 5) Functioning as an ecology learning center for all ages, 6) Providing a space to foster self-actualization, 7) Providing a residential sanctuary for urban scholars, and 8) Contributing to an infrastructure solution. This project was a co-winner of the larger 2016 Dow Distinguished Award.

Project Overview

 

Team Members

Alexander Truelove, Astrid Santiago, John Andreoni, Lillian Kline, Wyatt Klipa

Partner Organization

Paso Pacifico

Advisor

Ivette Perfecto

Project Summary

The process of silvopasture integrates livestock and forestry, and benefits biodiversity and local farmers. This sustainable farming technique produces cattle more efficiently and supports habitat for biodiversity, alternative food sources for cattle, and income diversification to buffer against economic windfalls and severe drought. In Nicaragua’s Rivas Isthmus, unique biodiversity exists. This team successfully completed fieldwork in the summer of 2016, collecting three types of biodiversity data: a) behavioral studies of birds in isolated trees, b) health characterizations through temperature and weight of existing cattle, and c) interviews with local farmers about land use and tenure.

Moving forward, the team seeks to further analyze this data helps to draw connections between cattle health, farmer attitudes, and the conservation value of the practice of silvopastoralism. Ultimately, this data will be used to help create a decision based tool for project partner Paso Pacifico to use with Nicaraguan farmers and submit policy recommendations to the Nicaraguan government. Project efforts will compliment pastoral productivity conservation efforts, address biodiversity and benefit hardworking farmers of the local community.

Project Overview

 

Team Members

Hamidreza Tavafoghi Jahromi, Velma Lopez, and Maryam Arbabzadeh

Advisor

Jose Alfaro

Project Summary

In Liberia, 9 out of 10 Liberians do not have access to electricity, and the lack of basic infrastructure is a significant challenge in addressing this issue. The project team proposed sustainable solutions to electric rates and power reliability at the University of Liberia, and the surrounding communities. The team’s assessment and proposal used a combination of natural resources in Liberia (e.g., solar, biomass, and wind) and diesel fuel to propose a feasible micro-grid. A key factor in implementing a micro-grid is assessing the electrical demand necessary, and the natural resources potential for electricity. Using the results of the assessment, the team proposed goals to address this issue.

The team hypothesized that increased access to electricity will lead to reductions in gender inequality over time. Using a sustainable development framework incorporating the environment, economics, and society, women’s empowerment is a precursor to downstream social impacts, as women play a key role in the betterment of community, household, and child health and well-being. With the predicted changes to women’s empowerment, the team anticipates that expanding the dialogue of renewable energy programs will include important aspects of sustainable development beyond the physical environment.

Project Overview

 

Team Members

Anna Bengtson, Kathleen Carroll, Sarah Ladin, Lee Taylor-Penn, and Grace van Velden

Advisor

Dr. Laurie Lachance

Project Summary

Food security is crucial to the health of individuals and their communities. Mississippi is the nation’s least food secure state, with 22 percent of households reporting a lack of access to healthy food. People living in Mississippi’s West Tallahatchie County have experienced an increase in food insecurity since the recession. Project partner, the Emmett Till Memorial Commission, is working with partners to increase access to healthy food among the African American community.

A local grocery store in the West Tallahatchie area offers primarily processed and canned foods, and does not offer fresh produce. The project team focused on the ability to achieve food security in this area through long-term, sustainable food systems. Three food system scenarios were proposed and included innovative solutions to this critical issue. Through community engagement, including meetings, interviews and workshops, the team anticipates transitioning the project into the hands of community leaders to implement solutions.

Project Overview

 

Team Members

Jeffrey Thiele, Vicky Koski-Karell, Michael Rozier, Jessica Carlile, Dr. Angel Valdez, Kailey Stutzky, Nicholas Gregory

Advisor

Dr. Scott Stonington

Project Summary

During summer 2016 this project team conducted health assessments in four rural Haitian communities with support from their Distinguished Award seed grant. These health assessments sought to ascertain the conditions of several factors that contribute to the sustainability of a community’s wellness such as the health of mothers and their infants, nutritional status of infants, and households’ access to sanitation. Key findings show the need of community education around childbirth and postnatal care, nutrition, and environmental conditions such as latrine location in order to improve community health. Through mapping out communities near the Haiti-DR border, the project team explored and quantified the relationship between proximity to a latrine and child health.

The team is now working with governmental agencies and Haiti-based NGOs and is seeking support for training local community health workers to make regular visits to mothers, infants and children in these communities.

Project Overview

 

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