PSU Sustainability community confers annual excellence awards
Author: Christina Williams, Institute for Sustainable Solutions
Posted: May 27, 2016


The Institute for Sustainable Solutions (ISS) and its partners across campus hosted the 9th Annual PSU Sustainability Celebration this week in the Smith Ballroom, toasting with more than 200 attendees to another year of outstanding achievement in sustainability—in research, teaching, and operations—at Portland State.

The celebration’s Project Showcase featured 50 research programs, staff and student initiatives, and class projects addressing the social, environmental, and economic health of the PSU and Portland community. ISS Director Robert Liberty took the stage to share his vision for sustainability at Portland State and to announce the re-launched ISS Faculty Fellows program that is made up of a network of 98 faculty members from across the University who are actively engaged in sustainability work. 

President Wim Wiewel was also on hand to share his views on the vital importance of progress on climate change-related issues and to confer the Roy W. Koch Award for Sustainability Leadership. 

From left: PSU President Wim Wiewel, Tichelle Sorenson, Kristin Purdy, Katie Selin, Adam Brunelle, Irene Bailey, Amy Lubitow, Robert Liberty. (Not pictured, Corey Griffin.) President Wim Wiewel was also on hand to share his views on the vital importance of progress on climate change-related issues and to confer the Roy W. Koch Award for Sustainability Leadership. 

The following Excellence in Sustainability Awards were conferred: 

Excellence in Sustainability Research: Amy Lubitow 

Amy Lubitow, assistant professor in sociology and ISS Faculty Fellow, has completed a variety of research projects related to the social dimensions of environmental sustainability policies and programs. She has collaborated across disciplines and with a variety of community organizations including working with the Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability to investigate the development of the Portland Green Loop and how it might impact low-income residents and communities of color—relevant and applicable research that is rooted in the community. 

Excellence in Teaching and Sustainability: Corey Griffin

Through opportunities such as the Green Building Scholars, building technology courses, and field trips Corey Griffin, associate professor in architecture and ISS Faculty Fellow, is working to break down barriers in education between architecture and engineering students so we can learn how to collaborate together. He brought the Building Sciences Lab to Advance Teaching (BUILT) Lab to the School of Architecture, and continually looks for ways to enhance teaching through research. 

Excellence in Promoting Campus Sustainability: Tichelle Sorensen 

As academic director of PSU’s MBA program, Tichelle Sorensen’s passion is helping students succeed and helping PSU’s MBA program shine. She led a redesign of the MBA’s curriculum retaining the focus on sustainability that has distinguished the program for many years. She creates positive change through sustainability in business by collaborating with students and faculty members. 

Inspiring Student Award: Adam Brunelle and Katie Selin

Master of Urban and Regional Planning graduate students Adam Brunelle and Katie Selin led an effort to engage students in a community program in the Lents neighborhood. The pair designed a MURP workshop to support and amplify the efforts of Lents Strong, a program to engage all residents in improving the livability of the neighborhood. Both students demonstrate a passion for building community and addressing displacement alongside climate change. 

Outstanding Student Volunteer Award: Kristen Purdy

A tireless, enthusiastic, and engaged volunteer, Kristen Purdy is a senior environmental science and management student. She is committed to environmental justice and believes that volunteers can achieve things that policy cannot. As an EcoRep Coordinator with the Student Sustainability Center, a member of the student-run Waste Reduction Task Force, and myriad other volunteer roles, she works to engage others and express the value she places on people and the planet. 

Outstanding Student Employee Award: Irene Bailey 

As a graduate assistant supporting the Student Sustainability Center (SSC) for the last two years, Irene Bailey a student in the Leadership for Sustainability Education program, has been a role model and inspiration for dozens of PSU students. Her passion for sustainability leadership and self-care has permeated the culture of the SSC with her guidance. She is responsible, responsive, a skilled facilitator, and a dream employee. 

Outstanding Department Award: Planning, Construction & Real Estate Finance 

When this department first took the Climate Champion survey they scored 16 points, but a passion for adopting sustainable behaviors quickly changed that picture. After Campus Sustainability Office staff met with the department and introduced new sustainable resources—such as larger recycle containers, smaller waste receptacles, refillable white board markers, and proper signs and labels for communal areas that have composting and waste—the department now has 36 points making them a certified silver Climate Champion.

Sustainability Partner of the Year Award: Portland General Electric 

Since 2010 PSU has been partnering with Portland General Electric on a range of sustainability initiatives including electric car research, renewable energy, and building a smarter grid. It’s a partnership that has resulted in $720,000 in funding for 26 PSU research projects, plus capstone projects that have provided hands-on learning experiences for dozens of students. The partnership provides an important cornerstone for PSU’s—and Portland’s—leadership in sustainability. 

Roy W. Koch Award for Sustainability Leadership: Olyssa Starry 

Olyssa Starry, assistant professor at PSU’s University Honors College and ISS Faculty Fellow, serves as the faculty mentor for the University Honors Sustainability Scholars who receive scholarships through ISS to explore theirsustainability passion during their time at PSU. Olyssa shares with those students and with her colleagues on campus her approach as interdisciplinary research collaborator. A specialist in green roof ecosystems and urban ecology, Olyssa is working with Biologist Todd Rosensteil and Engineer Elliott Gall on a study of green roof impacts on air quality—a project that was just recommended for NSF funding. She also exposes students to extraordinary research opportunities, such as partnering with the U.S. Forest Service earlier this academic year to collect and analyze the moss samples that informed an air quality alert that led to grave concern in the Portland community and a research response from Portland State.