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Extraordinary Efforts Honored at Pitt’s Annual Sustainability Awards

PITTSBURGH (May 9, 2019) — Since 2015, the University of Pittsburgh Sustainability Awards have honored those on campus who are making an extraordinary impact on sustainability and whose work contributes to the success of the Pitt Sustainability Plan. This year, one faculty member, two staff members, two students and one group received this award at the annual Sustainability Symposium on April 19.

“Sustainability is up to all of us. We can’t reach our goals without working together,” says Gena Kovalcik, co-director of the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation. “We’re pleased to recognize those in our community who are leading the impactful work that will make those goals a reality.”

This year’s winners are: 

Emily Elliott, PhD, associate professor of Geology and Environment Science and adjunct professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Dr. Elliott was recognized for her work as an innovator who advocates for sustainability in all aspects of her work, in research, teaching, and even in the community. She received a grant from the National Science Foundation to help refocus the Geology and Environmental Science curriculum around urban systems, highlighting the importance of the underlying terrestrial and aquatic systems that support our cities. Dr. Elliott also directs sustainability-focused undergraduate research-service projects and helped to establish the undergraduate sustainability certificate. Her work can be found outside the University, such as the installation of public air-quality monitoring stations in Etna, Millvale and Sharpsburg. 

Corey S. Flynn, administrator for the Department of Sports Medicine and Nutrition in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences

Flynn spearheaded the installation of a garden on the fourth-floor atrium of Forbes Tower, a space to grow food used by the department’s classes and community-focused healthy eating demonstrations.  She also set up composting in her school’s staff and faculty lounge and encouraged others to do the same.

Melissa Warthen, associate director of the First-Year Experience in Student Life

Warthen was honored for her dedication to implementing sustainability in the First-Year programs at Pitt, including over 15 events during Orientation Week and beyond. She has been involved in increasing compost efforts, use of the water buffalo, as well as implementing recycling efforts at events. 

Student winners are:

Forest Goebel, College of Business Administration and Executive Director, Thriftsburgh

In addition to being a senior business major, Goebel serves as the executive director of the on-campus thrift store, Thriftsburgh. The store addresses economic and environmental sustainability while serving as a resource for students. Goebel has also inspired students at national conferences like Students for Zero Waste Conference and the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education Conference, where he presented about Thriftsburgh. 

Isabelle Ouyang, English Writing

Ouyang has been a leader in sustainability throughout her time at Pitt. She was at the forefront of the divestment campaign, is active in the Student Office of Sustainability, and is one of the board members of USAS. Advocating for diverse representation, Ouyang has taken an active role in defining what sustainability leadership looks like among students.

Group: Real Food Challenge

The Real Food Challenge Commitment, signed by Chancellor Patrick Gallagher in March 2015, has had a substantial impact on Pitt Dining’s sustainability. Real Food Challenge students work to both educate their peers about the food system and work with Pitt Dining to increase the Real products on campus. The program is on track to shift millions of dollars from a conventional food system with numerous labor, environmental, and public health problems, toward one that is more ecologically sound, fair, humane, and community-based.

Author: Maggie Pavlick

Contact: Maggie Pavlick