20:42 PM

Students devote summer to sustainability research

MCSI Summer Research Symposium showcases undergrad sustainability research.

From building food access in our community to using machine technology to identify wildlife species, University of Pittsburgh undergraduates in the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation (MCSI) Undergraduate Summer Research Program were busy this past summer. 

The MCSI Undergraduate Summer Research Program pairs students with an advisor for 12 weeks to research wide-ranging topics linked by a focus on sustainability. Students work 40 hours a week and meet weekly with their advisors. 

“Our students are excellent examples of how research can make a difference in the world, and their work this summer proves how wide-ranging that work can be,” said Gena Kovalcik, co-director of MCSI. “I always look forward to seeing what students have accomplished at the end of summer and celebrate what they’ve contributed toward invaluable sustainability research.”

The program was started in 2004 with just five students participating. This year's cohort of 25 undergraduates represented students from all engineering departments, biological sciences, geology, environmental studies, economics, political science, computer science, and psychology. 

In addition to the research, students in the program write a final paper, produce a two-minute video discussing their work and its significance for sustainability, and give an oral presentation at the Undergraduate Research Symposium, which was held in person this year on July 25-26. 

You can learn more about the MCSI Undergraduate Summer Research Program and learn more about this year’s projects here

This year’s top two projects are:

Molly Draper 

Forest Ecology at Powdermill Nature Reserve 

Molly’s research at the Powdermill Nature Reserve aims to answer questions about how natural disasters and human activity affects forests and how we can help create a more sustainable future for all inhabitants. 

Rebecca Hotton 

Rebecca’s research focused on refining manufacturing processes of porous metals to reduce industrial waste.