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Sustainability Awards

In celebration of UC San Diego's Earth Week, April 21-25, 2014, the Advisory Committee on Sustainability will recognize individuals and groups that have made our campus more sustainable.

2014 Winners

  • Outstanding Undergraduate Student: Donald Zelaya
    As the Director of Urban Development for the Student Sustainability Collective, Donald Zelaya connected the dots and brought together the importance of alternative transportation with campus and community organizations. Donald engaged students in transportation issues and secured student representation in the La Jolla Community Planning Association. His work is all about integrating sustainability into what UC San Diego and the community are doing. Bringing people together is rewarding work because it is the first steps towards a world without walls, the only sustainable world!
  • Outstanding Graduate Student: Jeremy Turak
    As the longest-serving student member of the campus-wide Transportation Policy Committee, Jeremy worked with the Transportation Services Department for over two years to get the U-Pass referendum on the student ballot. The U-Pass provides students the option to take alternative forms of transportation to campus and around the San Diego area. Essential to this endeavor was gathering information, analyzing data, and presenting results to the student population, student government, and campus officials. Jeremy’s lesson that he would like to share: Never give up; never give in!
  • Outstanding Faculty: Dr. Tom Murphy
    Professor Murphy developed an awareness of the acute challenges facing our society by teaching Physics 12, Energy and the Environment, at UCSD beginning in 2004. Since then, he and his wife have transformed their lives into a low-resource-use experiment, reducing home energy usage by a factor of five, harvesting rainwater, raising chickens for eggs, growing food, experimenting with off-grid solar power, and changing dietary and travel habits for a lower impact. Applying physics skills (honed in his research testing General Relativity) to societal-scale problems, Professor Murphy initiated a popular blog called Do the Math to explore the challenges of the 21st century. Together with various published articles and talks at conferences and other schools, "Tom represents UC San Diego's sustainability ideals to the outside world," as one of his colleagues commented.
  • Outstanding Staff: S. Earl Kang
    If Albert Einstein is the father of relativity, then Earl Kang is the son of sustainability. It is obvious to many that Earl is not frightened of living life sustainably. Some say that Earl was leading in sustainable efforts even before the term sustainability became the hottest new craze. Earl’s vision of sustainability reaches far and wide as well as into his backyard. Just a few of Earl’s efforts include, inviting faculty to lecture at Roger’s Garden, collaborating with Facilities Management and the Sustainability Resource Center, working with the California Native Plant Society, and growing his own food, which includes raising chickens and rabbits.
  • Outstanding Student Group: Ellie's Garden
    The human race lives an existence where everything is packaged, either at the manufacturer or the supermarket. Ellie’s Garden is changing the way students and others think about food, where is comes from, and what’s in it. Healthy people start with healthy food. Ellie’s Garden has taught students how to compost and more importantly, what can be composted. You don’t have to live in the country in order to grow your own produce, herbs, flowers, and more. Life is all about choices and for those who work in Ellie’s Garden, greener choices –healthier choices– are now an option. Build, plant, grow, compost…spread this lifestyle wherever you go!
  • Outstanding Collaboration: Preuss School & Engineers for a Sustainable World
    What do Preuss School children, cuttings of drought-tolerant plants, a raised bed garden, and captured rainwater have in common? The Lorax Garden Club! Nature has so many lessons to offer. Some are really simple. This past year, the Lorax Garden Club partnered with ESW to take drought-tolerant plant cuttings, repot them, and sell them to raise funds for the school. The project expanded into a raised-bed garden and growing vegetables that they hope, one day, may be served in the school cafeteria. The Lorax Garden Club and ESW have gone beyond the benefits of the original sustainable project and are also talking to Preuss students about furthering their education, exploring potential careers in sustainability, and making good decisions. Living sustainably is a skill that can be learned, just ask students at the Preuss School and ESW!
  • Outstanding Campus Food Vendor: Food Co-op
    Opened in 1978, the Food Co-op is not only run by students, it’s the ‘most sustainable place to eat on campus” according to one of its frequent customers. The Food Co-op provides nutritious vegan and vegetarian meals as well as other natural food products. They would rather you stay and eat using their real plates and utensils rather than use disposables, but if you’re in a hurry, they offer biodegradable containers for your food purchase. The Food Co-op is living sustainably by example and serves as a resource for environmentally conscious products and information. Vegan cupcakes, tofu scramble, and the bagelwich await you.


  • Deadline: Nominations must be submitted by March 25, 2014.
  • Sustainability is defined as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Sustainability issues may include an overlap of environmental, economic, or social equity related issues.
  • Individual or group activities and projects occurring or culminating between Earth Week 2012 and the present are eligible for nomination.
  • Previously nominated activities or projects must clearly demonstrate new or innovative progress and development to be considered for 2014 awards.
  • Nominators may choose to remain anonymous.
  • Nominators may submit more than one nomination.
  • Nominees must be closely affiliated with UC San Diego and have worked outside the capacity of their job descriptions to advance one or more of the Advisory Committee on Sustainability's goals:
    • To make sustainability part of UCSD's ongoing education, research, planning, operation or outreach programs
    • To share information about UCSD's education, research, planning, operation or outreach activities related to environmental stewardship and sustainability with the campus community and the public
  • Award categories include:
    • Outstanding Undergraduate Student
    • Outstanding Graduate Student
    • Outstanding Faculty
    • Outstanding Staff
    • Outstanding Student Group
    • Outstanding Individual (not UC San Diego student, faculty or staff)
    • Outstanding Collaboration: This person or group must have demonstrated successful collaboration with a non-traditional or first-time partner from on or off campus
    • Outstanding Campus Food Vendor: This award will be given to a food or coffee vendor that is part of UC San Diego (third-party foodservice operation on or off campus). Nominees must be closely affiliated with UC San Diego or the vendor’s operation.
  • Nominations must include activity or project details.
  • One winner will be selected in each category. Runners up will receive a certificate and recognition at the awards ceremony.
  • The Award Review Committee may contact nominators or collaborative partners for verification.

To nominate an individual or group for a Sustainability Award, complete the online Award Nomination Form. Awards will be presented at a ceremony on Monday, April 21 from 2-3 p.m. at the Faculty Club.

2013 Winners

  • Outstanding Undergraduate Student: Allison Platt
    Allison has dedicated her undergraduate career to campus sustainability, environmental education and student empowerment. Serving as the Student Sustainability Collective’s Director of Energy and Waste, Allie led efforts to install hydration stations at high-traffic campus locations and played a key leadership role in the Divest from Fossil Fuels campaign, “Beyond Borders” event, “The Redefining Sustainability: Food Water and Action” event and serving on the Earth Week committee, to name a few.
  • Outstanding Graduate Student: Susan Kram
    As a former project manager of PowerSave Green Campus, Susan Kram has carried her passion for campus sustainability beyond her UCSD undergraduate studies to her graduate work. Susan continues to be an integral part of PowerSave Green Campus and campus sustainability by serving as a mentor to current undergraduate members and focusing on outreach efforts. Susan has hosted a free quarterly LEED Green Associate exam prep course, in collaboration with the USGBC student group, to help students pass the exam. She has also worked with the Scripps Birch Aquarium on an outreach tool to educate visitors about energy efficient light bulbs.
  • Outstanding Staff: Kim Kane
    Kim Kane epitomizes a sustainability leader who is motivated to create a more sustainable world. As a Geisel Library staff member, her job does not focus primarily on sustainability, but Kim makes time to green the library and the campus. She serves on and lends her support to almost every campus sustainability committee and spurred the effort to pursue LEED certification for Geisel Library. She often notifies the Sustainability Program Office about green issues and events to help ensure that the campus community receives current sustainability news. Kim lives sustainably with her lovely EV and rooftop solar panels. Kim never seeks recognition for her green contributions because she is motivated by a sincere passion for sustainability.
  • Outstanding Faculty: Dr. Lynn Russell
    Dr. Lynn Russell serves as an excellent example of a professor who actively incorporates the importance of sustainability into a class curriculum. As a professor of “ESYS102: The Solid and Fluid Earth,” Lynn strives to educate her students about the causes of climate change and what can be done to remedy these issues. In her lectures, Lynn addresses global warming, ozone depletion and explores the causes of these problems and their solutions. Outside the lecture hall, Lynn focuses her research on aerosol particle chemistry and has released publications that explore geoengineering methods –such as carbon dioxide removal and solar radiation management– intended to offset the effects of climate change. Lynn Russell exemplifies a champion for sustainability both in and outside the classroom.
  • Outstanding Student Group: Engineers for a Sustainable World
    As a leading student group in campus sustainability efforts, UC San Diego’s Engineers for a Sustainable World are currently working on more than a dozen student-run technical sustainability projects, like the completed Solar Slider mobile charging station, the annual Student Sustainability Outreach Day and Gaia Festival (a fun green Sungod festival). They are also collaborating with the Student Sustainability Collective to host a Sustainable Job Fair. Last October, ESW hosted the 2012 Engineers for a Sustainable World National Conference, which brought sustainably-minded students from around the country to our campus for three days. ESW empowers UC San Diego students to research, plan, design, innovate and implement real social and environmental change.
  • Outstanding Collaboration: Facilities Management Building Services & Landscape Services
    These Facilities Management units have integrated sustainable pest management, landscaping and waste diversion practices that diverted over 10,000 tons of waste and saved hundreds of dollars in waste disposal costs. A few examples of their many sustainable projects include: 1) converting 50, 000 square feet of turf to mulched area to conserve water; 2) working to increase awareness about the types of materials recycled through the campus single-stream program; 3) removing 12 tons of debris from drainage and conveyance systems to reduce effluents that cause water pollution in UC San Diego’s Area of Special Biological Significance along the university’s half-mile of coastline; and 4) installing 25 sets of solar-powered BigBelly trash and recycling compactors in high-traffic areas to reduce operational costs, liner use and CO2 emission.
  • Outstanding Collaboration: San Diego Biodiversity Project
    As the lead instructors for the San Diego project, doctors Mandy Butler, Heather Henter and Stephanie Mel have worked outside of their normal responsibilities to engage students in the quest to inventory biodiversity at UC San Diego. Through the use of DNA bar-coding, the San Diego Biodiversity Project has cataloged biodiversity at the Scripps Coastal Reserve to promote environmental sustainability and the preservation of species.
  • Outstanding Food Vendor: Yogurt World
    Michael Tran, owner of Yogurt World, visited the 2012 UC San Diego Food Day expo and learned about a variety of issues, especially those surrounding food sustainability. Since then, Michael has voluntarily supported food composting by donating and transporting food waste from his store to Roger's Community Garden. His efforts have diverted hundreds of pounds of food waste from our local landfill that are now building productive top soil on our campus. However, his sustainable efforts don’t stop there. Yogurt World is in the process of switching to biodegradable spoons. Yogurt World serves as a prime example of how commercial food scraps from restaurant operations can be utilized in a more sustainable fashion.
  • Outstanding Individual: Ronnie Das
    Ronnie Das exemplifies how UC San Diego Alumni are using their education to improve the world. He graduated with an Environmental Systems major and decided to share his passion for sustainability with the San Diego community by creating his own job and starting a TV show called “How Can I Help San Diego” that features local businesses, non-profits and municipal departments that are making a difference in the community by incorporating green and sustainable practices. Ronnie still supports UC San Diego sustainability efforts by being the keynote speaker for the ESYS graduating class of 2012, attending events, speaking at the “Doing Good: Green Jobs” event and by promoting our events through his website and social media. Ronnie’s green entrepreneurial attitude inspires students to create their own impactful initiatives to mitigate climate change and promote sustainable practices.

2012 Winners

  • Outstanding Undergraduate Students: Jessica Baltmanas and Annie Le
  • Outstanding Graduate Student: Jennifer Hull
  • Outstanding Student Group: Neighborhood Community Garden
  • Outstanding Faculty: Yuvraj Agarwal
  • Outstanding Staff: Jerry Phelps
  • Outstanding Collaboration: USGBC Students of UCSD/SDSU

2011 Winners

  • Outstanding Undergraduate Students: Allison Weston
  • Outstanding Graduate Student: Andrew Markley
  • Outstanding Faculty: Prashant Bharadwa
  • Outstanding Staff: Kristin Hansen
  • Outstanding Department: HDH Food Scrap Recycling Program
  • Outstanding Student Group: Own Your Impact
  • Outstanding Student Group: UCSD Triathlon Team
  • Outstanding Academic Group: Media Services
  • Outstanding Individual: Sharmila Krishnamurty
  • Outstanding Collaboration: Sustainability Resource Center

2010 Winners

  • Outstanding Individual: Matt Finkelstein
  • Outstanding Collaboration: Latham & Watkins, Stone & Youngberg, Michael Gollner, Kevin Peng, Karl Olney, Ihab Kayhal
  • Outstanding Faculty: Robert Pomeroy
  • Outstanding Graduate Student: Lindsay Hatch
  • Outstanding Undergraduate Student: Anne Marie Ferruzzi
  • Outstanding Staff: Judy Keplinger
  • Outstanding Academic Group: Global Responsibility and Innovation Network (GRAIN)
  • Outstanding Student Group: Ecology Club
  • Outstanding Department: Surplus Sales

2009 Winners

  • Overall Individual: Bill Scripps
  • Faculty: Steve Kay, Kim Prather
  • Undergraduate students: Erika Kociolek, Ashley Ferrer
  • Graduate students: Kathy Lin, Melanie Zauscher
  • Staff: Martin Klein, Breda Walsh
  • Academic organization: GreenLight Project
  • Student organization: Environmental Science & Policy, Net Impact
  • Department: Early Care & Education Mesa Child Development Center, EH&S Green team

2008 Winners

  • Community Leader: Byron Washom
  • Leadership in Sustainability: Lisa Shaffer
  • Faculty: Jan Kleissl, Gabriele Wienhausen
  • undergraduate student: June Reyes
  • Graduate student: Meagan Moore
  • Staff: Jim Ruby, Christi Gilhoi
  • Student organization: Green Campus Program
  • Departments: Bookstore, Auxiliary & Plant Services Marketing & Communications

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Krista Mays
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