Recipients championed innovation in pandemic monitoring, food literacy, rare earth scarcity, combating marginalization and more
By Advancement Staff university of Calgary, April 22, 2022
From analyzing our city’s wastewater for COVID-19, to salvaging rare earth elements from electronics, the University of Calgary’s 2022 Sustainability Awards winners are creating enormous real-world impact in vast and unprecedented ways.
For more than a decade, UCalgary has been honouring students, faculty and staff members for their positive contributions to the sustainable future of not only the university but also communities around the world. Dr. Teri Balser, provost and vice-president (academic), says she is proud to help showcase the brilliant people and ideas from the UCalgary community.
“Our students, faculty and staff are engaged in the work of transitioning programs, policies, practices and much more. They are innovating and partnering on campus and (with) our local community and with other innovators in communities and organizations around the world,” she says.
The annual Sustainability Awards recognize and celebrate our diverse campus community leaders and the important work that they are doing
The University of Calgary’s Sustainability Strategy guides the institution’s frameworks for sustainability in research, teaching and learning, operations and administration. The work being done by students, faculty and staff is essential to mobilize the goals of this strategy.
Balser says evolving toward more sustainable practices is critical for all people worldwide, and of particular importance to UCalgary. “As we start to mobilize with our Framework for Growth and our emphasis in transdisciplinary and transdisciplinary scholarship to really move the needle on some of the most complex problems facing us today — certainly long-term sustainability, in terms of our social and environmental frames, is absolutely essential,” she says.
“It is something that we’re taking very seriously and working very hard on. I think we can see that playing out in the awards.”
This year’s awards were given in six categories, and award winners were evaluated by a panel of judges. Winners were selected based on their project’s impact, innovation, engagement and community.
Share a note of congratulations to the winners by joining this virtual Jamboard.
2022 Sustainability Award Winners
Undergraduate Sustainability Award: Neocycle team
The 2021 iGEM Calgary team is comprised of a group of undergraduate students who participated in an international genetic engineering competition. This year's team worked on Neocycle, a system for isolating rare earth elements from recycled electronic waste material. This project aims to solve the rare earth scarcity problem — which exists partly due to the monopolistic nature of the rare earth market — by using the rapidly growing amount of electronic waste, which is the fastest growing solid waste stream in the world.
Graduate Sustainability Award: Pamela Farrell
Pamela Farrell is a fourth-year doctoral candidate in the Werklund School of Education, in the Language and Literacy program. Her research focuses on the intersection of sociocultural factors and food literacy. As a result of her research, she founded and serves as the volunteer executive director of GROW Community Food Literacy Centre, in Niagara Falls, Ontario — the first food literacy centre of its kind in Canada serving at-risk populations. At the university, Farrell has demonstrated excellence in leadership as a guest lecturer, teaching assistant, research assistant, and currently serves as the Language & Literacy EDSA representative.
Ana Pazmino works to bring awareness about the environmental and human health problems associated with waste pollution and the ramifications of wasteful practices. She educates and engages students in a way that motivates them to be sustainable leaders in waste reduction and management. Her work is imperative to improving waste diversion on campus, and her passion has resulted in many incredible and impactful waste projects on UCalgary’s campus.
Group Staff Sustainability Award: The Wastewater-Based Epidemiology team
In April 2020, the opportunity to conduct community COVID-19 surveillance through wastewater monitoring using PCR testing platforms became available. A stellar group of transdisciplinary members came together in an effort where their backgrounds in wastewater engineering, environmental virology and genomics, clinical molecular biology and project management led the way to innovation and advancement. Now, this wastewater monitoring program is one of the main tools used to track COVID-19 trends in Calgary.
Sustainability Teaching Award: Dr. Christine Walsh, PhD
Walsh taught four elective undergraduate inquiry-based, experiential, interdisciplinary courses from 2018 to 2021. These courses all centre around the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, actively engaging students through videos, guest lectures, reading, facilitated group discussions and collaborative research projects, and uses knowledge and evidence from multiple disciplines.
Sustainability Faculty Research Award: Dr. Aamir Jamal, PhD
Jamal is a distinguished national and international leader, scholar, community-based researcher and social change advocate/community leader whose transformative and impactful work questions deeply rooted socio-cultural and political issues that affect the marginalization of women, girls and other oppressed groups. His achievements and significant contributions to advancing gender justice and women’s rights align with multiple UNSDGs and UCalgary’s Global Engagement Plan (2020) with a unique record of international collaborations and innovative leadership effecting progressive social change in the global south.
Learn more about the Sustainability Award winners and their impactful work.