Past Undergraduate Leader’s Projects

Leader's Projects

Ranjani Hariharan, Carly Dorion- #EndFoodInsecurity: A Social Media Campaign to Destigmatize Food Insecurity on Campus

In 2015, the United Nations established 17 goals as a part of their Agenda for Sustainable Development. In this venture, the UN has defined achieving global food security as an imperative to achieving a sustainable, healthy future. Food insecurity stems from a lack of money and/or other resources to access adequate amounts of nutritious food. Food insecurity is an issue that affects the student community at the UMN, where around 17% of students reported being worried about running out of food before they are able to buy more. Furthermore, stigma around food insecurity could be preventing students from seeking out resources. So, how do we address the needs of these students while keeping in mind the social implications that food insecurity carries? Social media has proven to be an effective tool to spread social impact. For our project, we used social media as a tool to spread awareness about food insecurity and work to destigmatize issues of food insecurity. We created informational slides to be shared on the Sustainability Education Instagram account. By making information about food insecurity and its relationship to sustainable development accessible to the public, we aim to impact the way individuals view food insecurity in a constructive, equitable, and positive way. 

Betty Huynh, Claire Westman, Molly Blaszowski- Pollinator Friendly Solar Panels and Nature: Components, Co-benefits, and Issues

As someone who may be living in an urban environment, it may feel difficult to interact with a natural environment. Being in a city such as Minneapolis, that access can also be reduced during the winter months, leaving you feeling as if your options are limited and fleeting. As cities create new incentives for green spaces, the opportunities are increasing, but what are your current options?  Our group focused on researching various opportunities available to students to interact with greenspace as they are becoming increasingly incentivized by cities. With huge advances in efforts towards sustainable energy, pollinator friendly solar panels are sure to change the world! However, such new technology can be very intimidating. To diminish such intimidation researchers in Minnesota have been working hard to improve and integrate solar panels all over. From understanding problems such as solar panel recycling and equity issues within the industry to components of pollinator friendly solar panels and the benefits of green therapy, our group at the Institute on the Environment under the University of Minnesota aims to inform the public through blogs such as this. With these efforts, we hope to change and spark interest in more sustainability and clean energy projects. Whether it be reading more about solar panels, visiting our west bank solar array to engage in green therapy, or installing your pollinator garden and or solar panels, any endeavor and shared experience brings us one step closer to a better environment.

Diana Flores Castillo, Marian Lu, Melissa Wood, Sid Pandya- Nile of the North

Our project worked with Project Sweetie Pie, an organization dedicated to food sovereignty within the North Minneapolis area. Our group consisted of two “committees”- one focused on communications, one focused on utilizing GIS skills to create an online map. Besides working on our respective project our project was also to gain valuable leadership skills as well as personal development through the monthly meetings held by the IonE facilitation team. Our end products include a draft of the ArcGIS Online map as well as the interview information stored in the Project Sweetie Pie spreadsheets.

Anjali Muppidi, Diego M Juarez, Ella Rodewald, Mia Schwartz, Rawan Algahtani- Tribal Food Sovereignty

Food sovereignty is defined as a food system centered around self-determination, equal access, and sustainability, and is a movement instrumental in addressing the global grand challenges of food security and equity. Funded by the Healthy Foods, Healthy Lives Institute, a collaborative team of administrators, faculty, and students from the White Earth Tribal and Community College (WETCC) and the University of Minnesota–Twin Cities and Crookston campuses are working together to develop a community-engaged and informed WETCC Food Sovereignty Action Plan. Our cohort is compiling information on Indigenous and traditional foods into a systems map, which we plan to use as an educational tool at conferences and in other academic settings. Upon completion, we hope this map can assist in the development and implementation of a food sovereignty plan for the White Earth Reservation, supporting a more economic, accessible, and sustainable food system for the entire community.

By understanding the acquisition, usage, and significance of each ingredient in this meal, we hope to gain insight into specific needs of the White Earth community and their food system. Our end goal is to understand stakeholders’ perspectives on the policy, traditions, cultural significance, and access to these ingredients, and ultimately the ability to create these dishes in the White Earth community today. 

Anna Stalsberg, Tora Husar, Zhaxou Sui and Tamar Maldonado (20-21) – Story mapping, grant writing and website design for Project Sweetie Pie.

Keeli Siyaka, Brianna Barkema, Joanna Wu, & Cynthia Yang (20-21) – Curating University Research for the
MN 2020 Water Plan

Asha Kaliappan, Brita Larsen, Mason Padilla, and Pavan Guttipatti (20-21)- Food Scarcity Assessment and Equity Mapping in Minneapolis.

Katie LeGare, Jacqueline Jobin, Ethan Cypull, Lily Heiting, Bradley Luchsinger, Hailey Peterson, and George Masson created a story map outlining their research to identify locations for small-scale solar installations that can produce energy and provide habitat for pollinators. Their video presentation of their research is below.

Rosa Dunn, Charlie Kidder, Sandy Zhang, Xiaohang Zhi, and Muna Al Zubaydi worked on increasing awarness of green energy jobs and training with a community partner, Renewable Energy Partners. Read their summary below.

The solar energy industry is growing quickly, much like other forms of renewable energy. Through solar energy’s expansion comes job opportunities and economic growth that must be made accessible for all. Renewable Energy Partners (REP) is a certified Minority Business Enterprise based in North Minneapolis. It is working to develop community solar projects and provide training and career development opportunities accessible to the urban core of the Twin Cities. REP is committed to tackling climate change by increasing renewable energy output and building community resilience. It is working in collaboration with the Institute on Environment to implement the Minneapolis Microgrid, an effort to research communal energy storage with an emphasis on school partnerships and green job training. 

Our project is a multimedia presentation, designed to increase awareness and understanding of training and job opportunities in green energy. It is intended for youth audiences including Minneapolis Public School students. Its importance lies in the current disconnect between public knowledge on solar energy and the opportunities it provides. We will focus on developing community resilience in North Minneapolis, an area that has been historically underserved by the city. We will display Renewable Energy Partner’s proposal of equity through innovation.

Throughout this academic year, we completed several powerpoints that could be used in a classroom setting to explain environmental injustice and community resilience. We visited the REP training center to film an interview with Jamez Staples, REP founder and CEO. We also gathered facility footage via drone. This summer, several IonE employees will be editing this footage to create a concise educational video supporting our project.

Katie LeGare, Karly Beaumont, and Bernardo Guarderas (2019-20) – Community Organizing for the BWCA. Read their reflection here.

Chandra Her and Jennifer Rosauer (2019-20)- Green Gentrification in the St. Paul Neighborhoods of Rondo and Frogtown. View their full presentation here.

Lilli Ambort (2019-20)- Textile Recycling and Clothing Donations on Campus. View their pamphlet here.

Elizabeth Marti (2018-19) – Sustainability 1001 course ideation and research. Check out her blog here

Christina Lundgren and Emily Worman (2018-19)- A video about environmental justice for the UMN community.

Elizabeth Joncas and Sarah Eyer (2018-19) – Organic Recycling initiative in Stadium Village. Look at their organics recycling guide here.

Lauren Schultz (2015-16)– Re imagining the American dream through tiny houses. Check out the blog post here. 

Multiple students (2014-15)- Film Series with a sustainability theme. Check out a blog on film series by a past undergraduate leader.

Maggie Kristian (2014-15)- blog entry based on their interview with someone they thought was a change agent.