Students Share Perspective on Collaborative Green Research

October 13, 2016 / By: Mackenzie Burke, OSI Intern

Strolling into Woulfe Hall on October 4th, you would have been welcomed into a space filled with lively conversation and rows of students eager to share posters showcased behind them. Each of these posters bring to life months of which students have invested in research.
That afternoon, St. Thomas’s Grants and Research Office hosted their annual Inquiry at UST Poster Session.  This is a celebratory space for undergraduate students to share their summer research opportunities, discoveries, and remaining questions. Out of nearly 70 research presentations at the event, 12 featured the Green Research badge sponsored by the Office of Sustainability Initiatives.
Green Research projects are that focus on environmental sustainability through a variety of lenses including social justice, service learning, globalization, ethics, and social entrepreneurship with diverse local and global communities.
To many, the Green Research badge wasn’t simply a secondary piece of their research, but rather the driving force. Green Research has been held dear to many students, as it is an opportunity to take leadership and direct steps toward a more sustainable world.
Junior researcher with the Biology department, Lily Ward, notes, “Learning about all that’s wrong, it’s disheartening. Green Research is something I can do to contribute. There’s value in identifying the problem. Even though its small, its something.”
Madeline Hankard, fellow junior Chemistry researcher, recognizes the unique opportunity Green Research presents, “There are things you can do as a person to be more sustainable, but research gives you an opportunity to put a specialty to use- for causes you care about. It allows you to address causes in a way that not everyone can.” She and others understand Green Research as a privilege to be truly grateful for.
The beauty of Green Research also lies in its reach across a diverse range of disciplines. Green Research badges were featured in fields of biology, social innovation, genetics, urban studies, and more. Hankard said she appreciated the event for its interdisciplinary conversations and findings. For her, it is in the intersections of ideas and questions where Green Research really blooms.
In addition, Marnie Sciamanda shares her perspective as a senior Biology student, in speaking of the beauty and challenges collaborative research entails: “I like that everyone had their own project. We were all leaders and were able to take ownership in that sense. We had autonomy with our learning, decision making, and in developing our research.”
For many, this autonomy in researching, asking questions, and developing solutions naturally led to self-discovery and experiences that taught real life skills. Ward offered her insight on these unique benefits, “You learn so much in a short amount of time. It’s specialized and very hands on problem solving. You also learn emotional resilience and stress management. You don’t get these in the classroom.”