Interdisciplinary teams of Sustainability Scholars—senior undergraduate students—recently presented the results of their engaged research projects. The Scholars teams received guidance from their project partners and support from the Graham Institute. Over the past year, four teams developed and implemented a project plan and delivered unique results, outlined below.

Raising Awareness of Farmland Preservation

  • Scholars Team: Braeden Fromwiller, Jessie Williams, Kelsie Imus, and Hershy Jalluri
  • Scholars Report
  • Project Partner: Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development

In partnership with the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, a U-M Graham Sustainability Scholars team supported the Agriculture Preservation Fund. Scholars worked on improving the understanding of conservation easements and land value, evaluation of agricultural sales, soil quality, and more. The recommendations outlined in the project report include an easement campaign and methods for how the Agriculture Preservation program can expand.

Sustainable Energy Data

  • Scholars Team: Sam Works, Erin Schimmel, Ammar Safdari, and Jelena Pejovic
  • Scholars Report
  • Project Partner: EcoWorks

A U-M Graham Sustainability Scholars team worked with EcoWorks, a non-profit organization based in Detroit. EcoWorks focuses on the education and implementation of sustainable energy. Scholars conducted research and developed a plan to increase operational efficiency by optimizing the EcoWorks database systems. The Scholars team created a meta-analysis of different sources and provided guidelines for creating a standardized database. 

STEM Kits & Gardens 

  • Scholars Team: Meg Nicholson, Kailynn Barton, Katie Wei, and Mikayla Mitchell
  • Scholars Report
  • Project Partner: Ypsilanti District Library

Working in partnership with the Ypsilanti District Library, a U-M Graham Sustainability Scholars team at the University of Michigan developed multiple education opportunities for the library and community they serve. The Scholars team developed four STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) kits with sustainability education activities. The kits include computer coding, solar panels, rain gardens, and understanding natural resources. The team also created educational installations for public gardens at the library.

Water Quality & Septic Systems 

  • Scholars Team: Will Dormer, Cade Schafer, Emily Welch, Josue Centeno, and Eli Schulman
  • Scholars Report
  • Project Partner: National Wildlife Federation – Great Lakes Regional Center

The National Wildlife Federation worked with a U-M Graham Sustainability Scholars team to focus on water quality. The team identified and analyzed the challenges of septic systems in the Ohio River Basin and discovered that many septic systems are outdated and are potentially hazardous to communities that rely on the Ohio River for drinking water. The team recommendations include increasing awareness of failing septic systems among Ohio stakeholders. 

Each year, Graham Sustainability Scholars form a tight-knit cohort supported, challenged, and inspired by each other, and by program partners and advisors. Through rich co-curricular experiences, Graham Scholars learn to incorporate sustainability into the campus, their lifestyle, their discipline, and the broader community.