Campus News

UK Office of Sustainability Announces 2021 Sustainability Winners

Pete Comparoni | UK Photo.
Pete Comparoni | UK Photo.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 11, 2021) — University of Kentucky students, faculty and staff from every area of campus are leading exciting, sustainability-focused programs. These programs provide high-impact research and learning opportunities for students and faculty, have significant positive environmental and economic impacts on operations, and provide resources and support for a foundation of justice, equity, diversity and inclusion at UK and across the Commonwealth. 

The 2021 Sustainability Showcase, hosted in the innovative and community-facing Cornerstone Exchange, highlighted the university's accomplishments in student engagement, athletics, health care, campus operations and interdisciplinary scholarship. A brief award presentation also honored the recipients of the 2021 Sustainability Challenge Grants, the undergraduate and graduate winners of the annual sustainability research and creativity poster competition, and the recipients of the first Staff Sustainability Champion Awards.

Six teams of UK students, faculty and staff were awarded Sustainability Challenge Grants totaling more than $200,000. The Sustainability Challenge Grant program is designed to engage multidisciplinary teams from the university community in the creation and implementation of ideas that will promote sustainability on campus and in the local community.

The 2021 Sustainability Challenge Grant winners are:

  • Turning Plastic Waste into Fuel for Operating Campus Grounds Equipment: Engineering and Designing Sustainable Solutions to UK’s Plastic Waste Issue ($43,045)
  • Climate Resilience through Community Resilience ($42,705)
  • Re-Visioning Huntertown: From African American Freetown to Interpretive Public Place ($42,000)
  • Diverse Landscapes for Nature Rx on the UK Medical Campus ($38,572)
  • Stories of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in Kentucky ($22,670)
  • Planning Global Gardens at UK: Cultivating Inclusive Spaces with Nutritional Sciences ($14,593)

For the first year, the Sustainability Showcase also celebrated staff that made great strides in sustainability on campus and in the community. The inaugural award went to the launch staff of WholeSum, a new sustainability-focused blog meant to engage the campus in sustainability projects currently in progress.

The 2021 Staff Sustainability Champion Award winners are:

  • Joanna Ashford (UK Recycling)
  • Esther Moberly (UK Recycling)
  • Carlie Laughlin (Office of Sustainability)
  • Courtney McCarthy (CAER)
  • Dave Melanson (CAER)
  • Thomas Pinkerton (CAER)
  • Kevin Puckett (CAER)
  • Tiana Thé (Office of the President)

The Office of Sustainability, in partnership with the Office for Undergraduate Research, also hosted a student poster competition that encouraged students in all majors to submit their sustainability-related research as a poster for a general audience. 

The 2021 Student Research Poster Competition winners are:

  • Bridget Bolt (first place undergraduate)
  • Raven Barleston (second place undergraduate)
  • Mallory Bowman (people’s choice undergraduate)
  • Great Umenweke (first place graduate)
  • Ja’Maya Wilson (second place graduate)

Want to be part of one of the winning concepts? Planning Global Gardens has created a short survey to collect ideas and suggestions for what people are interested in seeing grown in UK’s global gardens. From somewhere besides Kentucky, or outside the U.S.? Is there a plant, flower, fruit or vegetable that reminds you of home? Let us know! Share your ideas and get involved by taking this survey

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.