Students have the opportunity to do sustainability research with faculty in the form of independent studies, research assistantships, EXCEL research, and honors theses.
Megan Rothenberger, assistant professor of Biology, studies the influences of long-term changes in watershed land use and pollution sources on surface water quality, the environmental factors that select for harmful phytoplankton species and invasive, non-native species, and the responses of various aquatic organisms to heavy metals and other environmental contaminants.
Lindsay Soh, assistant professor of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering, conducts research on the application of green engineering towards sustainably producing biofuels and bio-based commodities. Specifically, her current research entails utilizing carbon dioxide as a benign solvent for improved and environmentally amenable biodiesel production. Other projects involve process improvement through life cycle analysis and green solvent application.
Julia Nicodemus, assistant professor of Engineering Studies, works on developing solutions to the major challenge of solar energy: storage. One of the most straightforward and efficient uses of solar energy is to use the heat of the sun for thermal (heat driven) purposes–from very high temperature processes that use concentrated sunlight to lower temperature processes for hot water and space heating. Nicodemus does interdisciplinary and technical engineering research on high temperature processes to produce solar fuels and efficient hot water storage for building applications.
Benjamin Cohen, assistant professor of Engineering Studies, studies the historical origins of industrial agriculture and the questions of safety, health, and purity that have shaped modern food production. He also works with students on research into small-farm infrastructure by examining ways to reduce energy use and improve the sustainability of local distribution networks at the regional scale.
Jim Toia, director of the Community Arts Program, uses art to bring viewers into a greater awareness of their environmental context. His sculptures and spore drawings are a kind of field research into imagining more sustainable relationships with nature.
Professors Lawrence Malinconico and Ben Cohen along with three student EXCEL Scholars operated a farm stand at 10th and Pine Street on Thursday evenings this summer. They harvested produce from Easton Urban Farm and Lafayette’s LaFarm and distributed it to residents. The farm stand was integral to the group’s research on food justice and sustainable technology, part of Lafayette’s Veggies in the Community program. The summer research focused on how the just distribution of food can remain tied to metrics of environmental sustainability.