Pollution Prevention Institute Announces Winners of Student and Poster Competitions

Gabriella Bhiro from Pelham Middle School in Pelham, NY is a winner in the contest.


Media Relations media@rpi.edu

April 23, 2015

Pollution Prevention Institute Announces Winners of Student and Poster Competitions

Troy, N.Y.— The New York State Pollution Prevention Institute (NYSP2I) at Rochester Institute of Technology today announced the winners of its annual Research & Development student competition and K-12 student poster competition, which provides students across the state the opportunity to promote ideas to create more sustainable schools and communities. This year, the event was hosted by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and was held in the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies.

Open to colleges and universities throughout the state, the fourth-annual student competition, held on Earth Day, recognized both graduate- and undergraduate-level sustainability projects.

Three teams from State University of New York at Buffalo, Rensselaer, and Syracuse University earned top honors at the graduate level, while teams from the College at Brockport State University of New York, Siena College, and St. Lawrence University finished in the top three schools among undergraduates.

Earning the top three graduate-level positions:

  • First Place: State University of New York at Buffalo, Retrieval of Precious Metal from Waste Effluent at Precious Plate Inc. in Niagara Falls, NY (Team Leader Mahmoud Kamal Ahmadi)
  • Second Place: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Manufacturing Process of Mycelium-bound Biocomposite Sandwich Structures (Team leader Lai Jiang)
  • Third Place: Syracuse University, Using Computational Fluid Dynamics to Efficiently Reduce Thermal Stratification at Small and Medium-scale Industrial Facilities (Team leader Jillian Burgoyne)

Representing the top three undergraduate winners:

  • First Place: The College at Brockport State University of New York, Eagle Diesel Goal for Sustainability, (Team leader Paul LaPlante)
  • Second Place: Siena College, Closing the Food Cycle at Siena: A Pilot Composting Project for Food Waste from the Roots Cafe Student Local Food Initiative (Team leader Matt Porter)
  • Third Place: St. Lawrence University, Restructuring Meals on the Run (Team leader Lanika Sanders)

The K-12 student poster competition winners included:

  • K-fourth grades: Vedita Sawhney from Forest Elementary in Buffalo, NY
  • Fifth-eighth grades: Gabriella Bhiro from Pelham Middle School in Pelham, NY
  • Ninth-12th grades: Heather Pankrath, Melissa Lagares,  Jeseneia Serrano and Andrea Bassett  from Arcadia High School in Rochester, NY

“Every year we become more impressed by the innovative ideas that both the graduate and undergraduate teams discover to help make their campuses and local communities more sustainable and environmental friendly,” said Anahita Williamson, director of NYSP2I. “And in just its second year, our K-12 student poster competition featured new and creative visions for sustainability from students all across New York state.”

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joseph Martens delivered welcoming remarks at the event.

“Today’s event highlights the work that NYSP2I is doing to showcase the work of tomorrow’s leaders, scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs,” said Martens.  “These students will face the challenges of industrial sustainability, competitive markets, resource conservation, and financial bottom lines.  Meeting these challenges will mark a brighter future for the Earth Days of tomorrow.”

As part of its Research and Development Program, NYSP2I challenged teams of full-time students enrolled at any institute of higher education in New York state to identify a specific activity at their university or in their community with a large environmental footprint. Teams were then required to design innovative solutions to reduce its impact, competing under the theme “Greenovate NYS” by undergraduate or graduate level.

This year’s competition marked the first time in four years that the event was held on Rensselaer’s campus, inside the Center for Biotechnology & Interdisciplinary Studies (CBIS).

“CBIS at Rensselaer is dedicated to conducting entrepreneurial, sustainable, socially responsible scientific discovery and technological innovation and it’s a pleasure to partner with other schools and state agencies to promote and encourage research leaders of tomorrow to pursue these goals,” said Deepak Vashishth, director of CBIS at Rensselaer.  “A number of our faculty are involved in applying biotechnology and interdisciplinary approaches to develop environmentally sustainable approaches to industrial applications through effective public- private partnerships.”

In all, 12 student teams from eight schools—the State University of New York College at Brockport, Clarkson University, RIT, RPI, Siena College, Syracuse University, St. Lawrence University, and the State University of New York at Buffalo—displayed their projects and competed for prizes at the Earth Day competition.

The teams received up to $1,000 for project materials when their project proposals were accepted to the student competition last fall. Student teams exhibited their projects and gave oral presentations to a panel of judges inside the CBIS. The free event was open to the public.

In addition to the top three schools receiving trophies, each first-place team received $1,500 to share among team members; the second-place school received $750; and third place $250. The prize money was made possible through donations by sponsors, including Baldwin Richardson Foods, New Pig Corporation, Golisano Institute for Sustainability (RIT), Markin Tubing, NOCO Energy Corporation, Counterparts Chemistry Consulting, International Paper, Risch, Rochester Midland Corporation, and Full Circle Feed. Additional funding for the competition was provided by the New York state DEC. Wegmans provided prizes for the K-12 student poster competition.


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