Shoemaker Green


Sustainability Research Included at CURF Student Expo

October 13, 2017
litty paxton and olivia sung

The University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowship (CURF) is the University’s hub for undergraduate student research, as well as the launchpad for Penn graduates awarded the most prestigious international scholarships and fellowships. Over 200 undergraduate researchers presented at CURF’s Fall Research Expo and Open House, with students working with faculty across all 12 schools in the University.

The Penn Sustainability Office in Facilities & Real Estate Services supports a selection of student undergraduate research: Integrating Sustainability Across the Curriculum (ISAC), Penn Undergraduate Research Mentoring Program (PURM), and Penn Undergraduate Climate Action Grant (PUCAG). On September 6, many of these students prepared a poster and presented their research at the CURF Open House.  The presenters included:

  • Ana Alonso: The Transitioning Traditional: Using Cars as a Vehicle for Traditional Ecological Knowledge Transmission
  • Madeleine Andrews: A Follow-Up on the Effects of Early Life Adversity Experiences on Salivary Cortisol and Alpha Amylase in Rhesus Macaques
  • Amy Chen: Sustainable Peru: The Impact of Textile Design on People, Profits, and the Planet
  • Sarah Haber: A Comparative Study of Urban Road Dust to Airborne Particles in Freiburg, Germany
  • Jisoo Kim: Fish Communities of the Lower Paraguay River
  • John San Soucie: Convection of the Southern Ocean
  • Cynthia Wang: E-Waste Management in China: Research and Internship
  • Hannah Sanders: Biochar Weathering and the Carbon Cycle
  • Amy Goldfischer: Community-Based Ecology in the Galapagos Archipelago

In addition to these, one student in the summer 2017 ISAC program, Octavia Sun, presented her research, “The Pedagogy of Eco-Feminism and Environmental Science.” Olivia is a graduate student in the Master of Environmental Studies (MES) program and worked with Professors Litty Paxton (pictured) and Alain Plante. 

ISAC Summer 2017 Courses




Course Name

Course Description and student work

Mary Cerulli

Graduating Senior

Bethany Wiggin

Environmental Humanities: Oral History of Eastwick

A new class in Environmental Humanities, taught by Bethany Wiggin, for the first time in the Fall of 2017. The ISAC student worked to collect and document the oral histories in Eastwick, together with the Eastwick Friends and Neighbors Coalition.

Nafissatou Ba

Grad (MES)

Howard Neukrug / Richard Pepino

Sustainable Water

As part of the Safe Drinking Water in Philadelphia course, the student investigated and developed low-cost, reasonable and practical approaches for Lead Service Line replacement for homes in the most at risk neighborhoods in Philadelphia, examined other models that have successfully replaced lead service lines at minimum costs to residential water customers, and explored potential sources of funding to upgrade water infrastructure.


As part of the second course, The US Water Industry in the 21st Century, the student investigated global case studies, the role of water in making cities thrive, and water’s role in making urban environments sustainable and resilient.

Octavia Sun

Grad (MES)

Dan Garofalo & Litty Paxton/ Alain Plante

Eco Feminism and Intro to Environmental Science

As part of the Eco-Feminism course, the student performed peer reviews, identified texts, and helped develop other course materials to aid in the study of how the same contemporary cultural forces and historical inequities have blocked the advancement of gender equality and value of environmental thinking in contemporary Western society.


As part of the Intro to Environmental Science course, the student assisted in integrating sustainability concepts into the three broad units covered in the introductory, required freshman class for the Ear Science and Environmental Studies majors. The student assisted in bringing in new or enhancing existing sustainability elements in the now broader units covered in the course.

Miranda Mote

Graduate (Design)

Chantel White / Katherine Moore

Plants and Society

Both courses are upper level, undergraduate Anthropology courses in which the student assisted in incorporating a multi-week unit on the historical markets of Paris and the modern agriculture systems in Freiburg Germany, as well as studies of wildlife management, molecular approaches and demographic modeling to develop case material around irrigation and water management, production in fisheries, and pasture and grassland evolution.

Zhengneng Chen and Katlyn Cotton

Graduate (Design)

Rebecca Popowsky / Fritz Steiner

Design Studio

As part of a summer project, two students assisted in preparing the recommendations from a landscape studio regarding sustainable landscape and planning strategies for future growth for the Tuscan town of Pienza.

Zhichao Liu

Graduate (Engineering)

Rahul Mangharam

Energy Systems & Policy and Energy Analytics

The student assisted in developing a course module on new approaches to interactive energy analytics at the intersection of machine learning and control systems for future energy management systems. The major development effort was in the design and development of a web-based energy analytics engine which serves as a plug-in to building-side SCADA systems to provide an Interactive Predictive Analytics toolbox and market-side dashboard systems.


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