Three New Award-winning Student Teams

Elizabeth LaPorte
Release Date: 


2017 Dow Distinguished Awards for Interdisciplinary Sustainability

Three student-led sustainability project teams were awarded $75,000 to advance project efforts in Brazil, Ghana, and the United States. Two of the teams are assisting low-income communities in the Global South, and the third team is focusing on reducing waste and increasing sustainability practices of dental clinics.

The Ocupação Anchieta Avança! project team received the first-place award of $35,000

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.

  • Student Team: Ashish Bhandari (lead), Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning (Taubman); Michael Amidon, School for Environment and Sustainability (SEAS); Olaia Chivite Amigo, Taubman; Laura Devine, Taubman; Kayla Hunter, School of Public Health; Jiayang Li, SEAS/Taubman; Erika Linenfelser, Taubman; Bruna De Souza Oewel, School of Art and Design; Ya Tang, Taubman; and Stephanie Gerretsen, Kinesiology.
  • Faculty Advisor: Ana Paula Pimentel Walker, and Maria Arquero de Alarcon, Taubman
  • Report Update

The Solar-Powered Mini Electric Vehicle team was awarded second-place, receiving $30,000

solar cartThis 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.

A member of the team, Tim Yuan, worked at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science & Technology (KNUST) in Kumasi, Ghana and conducted market research to develop an entry strategy for the integrated transportation, electricity charging, and usage data collection services provided by solar electric trailers.

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.

  • Student Team: Jaffer Usmann (lead), College of Engineering (COE); Sydney Forrester, School for Environment and Sustainability; Yide Gu, COE; Tim Yuan, School of Business; Ziyang Zhong, COE
  • Faculty Advisor: Kazuhiro, College of Engineering
  • Report Update

The Greening the Dental Clinic team is the third-place winner and received $10,000

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.

  • Student Team: Shivani Kamodia (lead), Dental School; Annabel Weiner, School of Information; Mary-Catherine Goddard School of Public Health; Lea Sarment, Dental School; Christina Bender, Dental School
  • Faculty Advisor: Zach Landis-Lewis, Medical School
  • Report Update

Distinguished Awards Seed Projects

A total of 15 student teams were awarded $5,000 to implement a Seed Grant project, and include those listed below.

  • Greening the Dental Clinic, Multiple locations
  • Thrive Nutrition, Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • Economic and Environmental Viability of Commercial-Scale Aquaponics Systems, Detroit, Michigan
  • Assessing the Non-Economic Impact of Climate Change, Wisconsin
  • Oupação Anchieta Avança!, Brazil
  • Large-Scale Water Storage and Drip Irrigation Systems, Peru
  • Solar-Powered Irrigation in School Farms, Liberia
  • Driving Hope, Washtenaw County, Michigan
  • Belding Community Youth Food Collaborative, Michigan
  • BLUElab India, Kalol Gujarat, India
  • African Solar Electric Trailer, Ghana
  • Natural Ventilation: A Passive Cooling System, Multiple Locations
  • Development of a Student-Led Sustainability Consulting Firm, Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • Corporate Financial Transparency, Brazil
  • Wellwith: Wellness Rewards Network, Michigan

About the Dow Distinguished Awards

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.

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