Sustainability and Energy Expo 2018

Calling all students (undergraduate, graduate and professional students at the University of Minnesota)! Do you have a project with a sustainability angle? Share your work at the Sustainability and Energy Expo on Friday, April 6, 2018!

At the Sustainability and Energy Expo, you will have the chance to develop your communication skills by showing and articulating the importance of your research to a broad audience.

To participate in the Sustainability and Energy Expo all University of Minnesota undergraduate, graduate, professional and postdoctoral students are invited to submit abstracts for presentation of their research or creative work in one of three formats:

  1. Poster
  2. Multi-media/artistic
  3. “Lightning Talk” (3 minutes)

Why Present?

As a presenter at the Sustainability and Energy Expo, you will hone presentation skills by sharing your research, enhance your resume, and connect with individuals sharing an interest in sustainability. Submission categories include conference posters, lightning talks (5-minute presentations of your work), and multi-media pieces (artwork, design project, video, etc.). Click here to view posters from past Expos.

The Expo has offered prizes such as an iPad Mini for best communicating sustainability as well as peer reviews from participants and attendees! Read about the 2017 Sustainability and Energy Expo winners here!

Get Started!

We welcome students who are working on sustainability projects and research to start thinking about the expo & start saving their posters and creative works for submission. You can presubmit your idea now, click here to fill out the form!

Contact Us!

If you have questions about submissions or if your department might be interested being a co-sponsor, please contact IonE event coordinator Kimberly Long at


Any University of Minnesota student, including undergraduate, graduate, professional or postdoctoral students, from any college or department may participate.  Researchers or faculty who would like to participate are also welcome to submit their work, but the focus of the Expo is on student work. Coordinate campus (Duluth, Morris, Crookston and Rochester) students as well as Twin Cities campus students are invited to participate, but must arrange for their own transportation and lodging to attend the Sustainability and Energy Expo* on April 7th, 2017 at the Institute on the Environment on the St. Paul campus.

Students from outside the University of Minnesota may participate if they are part of team that is collaborating with University of Minnesota faculty or researchers on a project sponsored by the University of Minnesota.

Research must relate to sustainability and may be drawn from any field of inquiry or discipline, including biophysical sciences, social sciences, humanities, design, engineering, business, the arts or interdisciplinary fields.  The research may be completed or in progress, and may have been done by the student individually or as a part of a team.  Research may reflect the work and findings of a University lab or program, or may represent applied research with community partners, other academic programs or entities outside the University.

It is important that students think carefully about explaining how their research relates to sustainability and to then incorporate that into the poster, multi-media piece or lightning talk.

Creative work might be visual art, a musical composition, a film, a theatrical performance, an innovative technology, a textile work, a craft or another form of creative expression that fits within the three formats (poster, “lightning talk” or multi-media) offered at the Sustainability and Energy Expo*. Students need not be majoring in an artistic field in order to submit creative work.  Students submitting creative work should be able to express how their work reflects on or contributes to sustainability.

A poster must be able to fit on a standard poster display board, using pins or tape to attach it.  The poster may contain photographs, graphs, charts, maps, text, illustrations or other visual elements necessary to convey the research or creative work.

The term multi-media covers any form of art or creative work that would fit onto a poster display board, stand on the floor in front of the board or sit on or be shown on a table or a computer or device. Other creative works may be considered, as long as the logistics can be coordinated.

A lightning talk should be three minutes long and may, at the discretion of the student, include a powerpoint or similar presentation (prezi, keynote or another program, for example).  The talk will only be given ONCE at the Sustainability and Energy Expo*

Yes, you may submit your project individually or as a part of a team. You may also, as an individual, submit the work of a team, as long as you appropriately recognize the contributions of the team. Only one prize will be awarded per category winner.

Abstracts will be reviewed by a committee made up of Institute on the Environment staff, with the opportunity for co-sponsoring collegiate and academic program staff and faculty to participate in this review. If there are more complete, relevant abstracts submitted than there is capacity at the Expo, the committee members will make selections based on quality of the abstract as well as consideration of representation from different colleges, departments and student level. You will be notified no later than March 21, 2016 of your acceptance.

All submissions to the Sustainability and Energy Expo* will be judged and prizes awarded to the top submission in each category. A panel of judges will be brought together from the staff of the Institute on the Environment, with the opportunity for co-sponsoring collegiate and academic program staff and faculty to participate in the judging panel. All research and creative work will be judged on a 1-5 scale based on the following items:

  1. Communication: Is it effective and interdisciplinary? Does the research or creative work presented get the message across quickly and easily (e.g. can a general audience understand it)? There are submissions from several colleges across the University. This means you need to discuss your work in an interdisciplinary fashion. Avoid jargon. Would a student in one of the other colleges understand how your research relates to sustainability and why it matters?
  2. Content/Sustainability Connection: It is clear how the research is related to sustainability – in the broader world and at a global scale? You must be explicit about how your work relates to a larger sustainability challenge. Why would someone interested in sustainability care about your work?

In addition to the judging for prizes, a peer review process will offer all participants input from fellow students and Expo attendees. The peer review information will be collected and provided to each participant on the day of the event.

* Formerly Called Sustainability Symposium