2020 SLICE Awards

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BY SYDNEY ZUCKERMAN, UB Sustainability Student Assistant

Release date: May 4, 2020

UB Sustainability’s annual Sustainability Leadership, Innovation and Collaborative Engagement (SLICE) awards recognize outstanding individuals and departments that exhibit a sincere commitment to transforming UB’s campuses into a holistically sustainable community through leadership, innovation and collaboration. Recipients are honored for efforts that demonstrate environmental stewardship, enhance social progress, or promote responsible economic systems and growth.

The awards have been presented since 2015 at the conclusion of Sustainability Month, which celebrates sustainability in all forms at UB and beyond, as well as Earth Day. UB Sustainability is pleased to announce this year’s SLICE award winners:

Award for Sustainability Excellence by a Department or Cross-Function Team: Campus Living, in recognition of the department’s collaboration and support for UBReUSE, the student-run waste diversion initiative.

Campus Living UB ReUSE.

Campus Living was nominated for this award by Michael McDonald.

“Campus Living has been a key partner in the organization and operation of the UBReUSE initiative. Now approaching the fifth year of UBReUSE, and having diverted more than 15 tons of materials, Campus Living not only continues to support the program, but they have doubled down most recently in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic,” McDonald wrote in his nomination letter. “It would have been easy for Campus Living to cut the program this year. Instead, their commitment to students and sustainability prevailed. The fall UBReUSE sale later this year, though smaller than usual, will continue to connect students with captured reusable materials providing exceptional value. None of this would have happened without Campus Living.”

Student Leadership Award for Sustainable Action: Mike McDonald, UB senior, in recognition of educating and engaging the UB community about the importance of sustainability.

Mike McDonald.

McDonald was nominated by Clayton Markham and Cam Hotto

McDonald joined the 2017-18 cohort of Education and Leadership Fellows in Sustainability (ELFS).  Afterward, he continued his involvement with UB Sustainability as a student assistant working on several major initiatives, including the AASHE STARS report, RecycleMania and UBReuse. He is president of the UB Supply Chain & Operations Management Club, where he strives to tackle supply chain and sustainability issues with other like-minded students. McDonald infuses sustainability into every aspect of his life, whether it’s trying to green his commute whenever possible, reduce his reliance on single-use plastics, or support clean water initiatives for communities-in-need with his “Fill It Forward” stickers.

“He has shown this year’s ELFS what being an impactful leader in sustainability looks like,” Markham wrote “Mike has been a catalyst for change in every corner of campus that he has touched, and I have no doubt that he will continue to do so beyond UB.”

Student Leadership Award for Sustainable Action: UB senior Alexandra Dombrowski, in recognition of her work as the co-founder of UB Bees.

Alex Dombrowski.

Alex’s nominator, sheds light on the importance of her commitment to sustainability at UB:

An honors student, Dombrowski became a co-founder of UB Bees during her junior year while studying biological sciences. “Though this initiative has been in existence for less than a year, it has led to numerous impactful experiences both within UB and throughout the WNY community,” said David Hoekstra, clinical assistant professor of biological sciences in UB’s College of Arts and Sciences, who nominated Dombrowski

Faculty across the university have requested to use the hives for classroom enhancement, and Dombrowski has participated in multiple workshops and experiences for nearly 100 undergraduate and graduate students during that time. In addition, faculty from other SUNY campuses have visited the hives to learn about the initiative, so that they may recreate it.

“Alex's contributions to this project are and were essential. Without her leadership, ambition, and hard work, it is without a doubt that it would not exist today, and our campus would be worse for it,” Hoekstra said.

In the first year, the hives collected nearly 4 gallons of honey, which will be donated to the UB Blue Table Food Pantry, and used in events to promote awareness of honey bees and pollinators.

Faculty Award for Sustainability in Higher Education: Elizabeth Thomas, assistant professor of geology. Thomas is also director of the Organic & Stable Isotope Biogeochemistry Lab, and co-director of the Paleoclimate Lab.  Thomas is being honored  in recognition of her groundbreaking work with students in reducing carbon emissions in the Western New York business community.

Elizabeth Thomas.

For the past two years she and her students have worked closely with local businesses to develop carbon reduction strategies that have resulted in reducing hundreds of tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

“Professor Thomas has taken a leadership role in creating and offering an upper level course that directly confronts environmental sustainability in an experiential learning environment, significantly expanding on the few such course offerings available at UB,” Beata Csatho, chair and professor of geology, wrote in her nomination of Thomas.

Thomas co-teaches the course with UB Chief Sustainability Officer Ryan McPherson. The course is unique in partnering students with local businesses in reducing their carbon footprint - not theoretically - but actually, and within the single semester during which the course runs.

To date the course has worked to reduce emissions with over 10 leading businesses and organizations throughout Western New York including, Delaware North, Curbell, National Grid, Rich’s, Harmac, Erie County and others.

“Elizabeth has created a model class that directly connects our students with the community in meaningful ways,” said Robin G. Schulze,  dean of the UB College of Arts and Sciences. “Courses that blend class work and project-based learning offer our students the opportunity to work on collaborative solutions to environmental challenges right here in Buffalo.”

Staff Award for Sustainable Operations Initiative: Fred Stoss, UB librarian of biological, environmental sciences & mathematics, in recognition of climate change advocacy and education within the community.

Fred Stoss.

Stoss was nominated by Erin Moscati, sustainability education manager in UB Sustainability.

Stoss has long been involved in and committed to creating a sustainable campus. Beginning in the mid 1990s, he was involved with the Environmental Task Force, which helped to develop the first set of environmentally-focused policies at UB. As UB’s biological and environmental sciences librarian, Stoss is deeply committed to providing the campus and greater community with the information they need to educate themselves on a plethora of issues.

He has also played a significant role on a national level with the American Library Association, including authoring their resolution on climate change, which was written in response to the 2017 removal of data and information files on federal climate change websites.

 Stoss received training from The Climate Project to give Al Gore’s climate change presentation. He was selected in 2012 as a mentor for Gore’s Climate Reality Project Leadership Corps and helped to train 950 volunteers.

global goals.

Sustainable Development Goals:

17: Partnerships for the Goals