Commitment to sustainability

The Sustainability Office and Alta Ski Area presented five Sustainability Leadership Awards to members of the campus community at the Global Change and Sustainability Center’s yearly Environment and Sustainability Research Symposium. These annual awards provide recognition and an honorarium to honor sustainability leadership in the four areas of research, education integration, community partnership and campus as a living lab. Below are the 2019 award recipients.

Sustainability Research Award

Daniel Mendoza, research assistant professor
Department of Atmospheric Sciences and the School of Medicine’s Division of Pulmonary Medicine

Daniel Mendoza was recognized for his commitment to equity in sustainability through rigorous research and community-centric outreach. His research focuses on air quality and urban pollution exposure. What is unique about Mendoza’s work is the breadth and transdisciplinary nature of his research, his ability to engage the legislature, and capacity to translate policy into practice. Mendoza regularly organizes and participates in outreach events to support westside residents in actionable education.

Education Integration

Edward Barbanell, professor
Department of Philosophy

The strength of Edward Barbanell’s work lies in his ability to develop the “big ideas” in how we ought to be approaching sustainability education, which ultimately impacts student attitudes towards sustainability and environmental responsibility. Barbanell’s trans-disciplinary, multi-institutional, integrative and imaginative approach to bringing sustainability thinking into the classroom sets him apart.

Community Partnerships Award

Austin Green, graduate candidate/teaching assistant
School of Biological Sciences

Austin Green’s work has focused on species distribution, abundance and behavior in response to varying human impact in the central Wasatch Mountains. Through his research, he has provided transformative experiences for volunteers, built scientific literacy in our communities and harnessed the power of community science to achieve research goals that would be impossible for an individual scientist. In the first year of the project, Green successfully managed 70 teams of community volunteers to deploy cameras at 205 sites across 950 square kilometers while coordinating the activities of five partners (federal, state and local government entities and nonprofits), an extraordinary accomplishment for someone so early in their career.

Craig B. Forster Campus as a Living Lab Award

Sierra Govett, Dillon Seglem and Yinhuan Huang, students
Environmental & Sustainability Studies program

Sierra Govett, Dillon Seglem and Yinhuan Huang were awarded a Sustainable Campus Initiative Fund grant to retrofit the lighting in the Special Collections section of the Marriott Library. These three students were enrolled in a capstone course in spring 2018 in which students were required to design and implement projects contributing to local sustainability efforts. Early in the semester, Govett remarked to the class that lights in many campus buildings are illuminated when occupants are absent, a waste of energy and money that could easily be resolved by replacing CFLs with motion-sensitive LED lights. With the help of Seglem and Huang, this idea evolved into a project that will ultimately save the university $56,000 in energy costs and 600 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions over 22 years, while extending the lifespan of priceless archives housed in the Marriott Library.

2019 Lifetime Sustainability Leadership Awards

Stephen Goldsmith, associate professor
Department of City & Metropolitan Planning

Stephen Goldsmith’s nomination was unique in that he received three nominations with eight letters of support from colleagues in six different departments and centers, as well as from current and former students. The selection committee determined that Goldsmith’s long and varied list of contributions and innovations merited a lifetime sustainability leadership award.

Goldsmith was recognized for his role in transforming the Department of City & Metropolitan Planning’s undergraduate degree program from Urban Planning to Urban Ecology, making it the first undergraduate urban ecology major in the country and the first planning program to fully embrace ecological thinking in name and content. He is known for his ability to mentor faculty, encouraging them to look beyond their own disciplines toward solutions that are truly creative and innovative. On top of that, Goldsmith has seeded or catalyzed a diversity of initiatives, programs and projects; from dark skies to food trucks; from community art spaces to movable tables and chairs in the quad to inspiring research “radicles” through the undergraduate initiatives. The legacy that he leaves this university, the community and the students who have been lucky enough to learn with him is truly monumental. 

The Sustainability Leadership Awards highlight the U and Alta Ski Area’s shared commitment to sustainability. Alta’s multi-year partnership with the U on the awards advances sustainability across campus. This year’s award winners come from a variety of disciplines, demonstrating that sustainability demands collaboration, creative thinking and expertise from across campus and community. Join us in congratulating these awardees on their excellent work and look for a future call for nominations for this award in early 2020.