2020 SLICE Awards

2020 SLICE Award Winners.

Ryan McPherson, chief sustainability officer with 2020 SLICE award recipient Elizabeth Thomas, Assistant Professor of Geology and Organic & Stable Isotope Biogeochemistry Lab Director and Paleoclimate Lab Co-Director, faculty award for sustainability in higher education. 

Thank you to all who submitted nominations highlighting the outstanding work of students, faculty and staff for this year's SLICE awards. The nominations were thoughtful, inspiring and spanned many departments and offices across campuses, further demonstrating the breadth and depth of work by many to integrate sustainability into our daily work and long-term thinking. 

About the UB SLICE awards

Exemplary efforts by University Community members express UB’s continuing efforts to become a sustainable institution. The University at Buffalo wishes to recognize outstanding individuals and departments who exhibit a sincere commitment to transforming our campuses into a holistically sustainable community through the kinds of leadership, innovation, and collaboration that demonstrates environmental stewardship, enhances social progress, or promotes responsible economic systems and growth.

Each nomination was evaluated based on how well the nominee’s actions reflect these sustainability criteria:

  • Going above and beyond routine or assigned responsibilities
  • Innovation
  • Overall impact
  • Ability to serve as a catalyst or model
  • Engages multiple campus stakeholders (students, faculty, staff, community, etc)
  • Incorporates multiple aspects of sustainability

Nominees must be faculty or staff members, students, or a department or cross functional team at the University at Buffalo. Candidates can be nominated for different categories, either as individuals, departments or partnerships. The categories are:

  •  Award for Sustainability Excellence by a Department or Cross Functional Team
  •  Student Leadership Award for Sustainable Action
  •  Staff Award for Sustainable Operations Initiative
  •  Faculty Award for Sustainability in Higher Education

The awards program is selective. Not every nomination is selected for an award. The number of awards in each category is not restricted nor is each award category filled each year. 

Elizabeth Thomas 2020 SLICE award.

Elizabeth Thomas, Assistant Professor of Geology and Organic & Stable Isotope Biogeochemistry Lab Director and Paleoclimate Lab Co-Director, faculty award for sustainability in higher education in recognition of her Novel sustainability course based on student-local business partnership.

  • Faculty Award for Sustainability in Higher Education-Professor Thomas was nominated by Beata Csatho, PhD.  Csatho highlighted Thomas' direct leadership and action on climate action through her work at UB:  “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. 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. Along with co-instructor Ryan McPherson, Professor Thomas is currently offering the class in its second iteration, following huge success the first time it was offered. That class led to significant strides made in Buffalo businesses, trained students in both content and in communication and diplomacy skills, led to student internships, and engaged local political leaders, including a visit by US Congressman Brian Higgins to one of the class sessions, which was open to the public.

    To date the course has engaged about 30 UB students, along with 10 or so local companies, and serves as a rare example of a UB class and UB students interfacing with and benefiting the WNY community. Leveraging has taken place via faculty and staff from across campus having participated in class activities, benefiting both them and students - not to mention company liaisons that work closely with students.”


Mike McDonald 2020 SLICE award.

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

  • Student Leadership Award for Sustainable Action-Mike McDonald has sought out sustainability initiatives since transferring to UB.  In 2017, Mike joined the 2017-18 cohort of Education and Leadership Fellows (ELFS) in Sustainability.  Afterward, Mike continued his involvement with UB Sustainability as a Student Assistant working on several major initiatives including the AASHE STARS report, RecycleMania, and the UBReuse move-out program. Mike’s involvement with sustainability-related activities also includes being president of the UB Supply Chain & Operations Management (SCOM) Club where he strives to tackle supply chain and sustainability issues with other like-minded students. Mike infuses sustainability into every aspect of his personal, academic, and professional life, trying to green his commute whenever possible, reduce his reliance on single-use plastics, and support clean water initiatives for communities-in-need with his “Fill It Forward” stickers. Mike radiates passion for what he is working on and compassion for those he is working with, giving him the rare ability to bring people together and serve as a leader to the end of advancing green strategies across a wide array of problem areas.
Alexandra Dombrowski.

Alexandra Dombrowski, co-founder of UB Bees and recipient of the Student Leadership Award for Sustainable Action.

  • Student Leadership Award for Sustainable Action--In May 2019, as a junior honors student studying biological sciences, Alex Dombrowski became a co-founder of UB Bees.  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. Faculty across the university have requested to use the hives for classroom enhancement, and Alex has participated in multiple workshops and experiences for nearly 100 undergraduate and graduate students during that time. 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.

    The ecological and sustainable benefits that have been gained by having the bees on campus has been immense. While it is difficult to quantify the direct benefit the infusion of roughly 250,000 pollinators has on our local ecosystem, many students reported that they noticed honey bees on campus during the fall semester. As honeybees and pollinators are threatened by our continued use of pesticides and development, the importance of enhancing the population of this essential species cannot be understated. 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.
Fred Stoss 2020 SLICE award.

Fred Stoss is the 2020 recipient of the staff award for sustainability excellence.

  • Staff Award for Sustainable Operations Initiative- During his time at UB, Fred Stoss has long been involved in and committed to creating a sustainable campus.  Beginning in the mid 1990’s Fred 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 Fred is deeply committed to providing the campus and greater community with the information they need to educate themselves on a plethora of issues including climate change.  Fred has also played a significant role on a national level with the American Library Association and authored their resolution on climate change, which was written in response to the 2017 removal of data and information files on Federal climate change websites.  Fred is also an active speaker and writer on sustainability issues, having been trained in 2007 and 2010 by The Climate Project, to give Al Gore’s climate change presentation. Stoss was selected in 2012 as a mentor for Gore’s Climate Reality Project Leadership Corps and helped to train 950 volunteers.  Stoss has continued to present on climate and climate change, and detail the changes necessary to ensure the survival of future generations, and is a tireless advocate for sustainability education.
Tom Tiberi.

Tom Tiberi director of Campus Living helps at move-in.  Campus Living received the 2020 SLICE award for Sustainability Excellence by a Department or Cross-Function Team, in recognition of the department’s collaboration and support for UBReUSE, the student-run waste diversion initiative.

  • Sustainability Excellence by a Department or Cross-Funcitonal Team-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. 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.