Advancing Undergraduate Research in Sustainability

Author: Barbara Villarosa


In spite of the frigid temperatures on campus, students overwhelmed the Sorin Room at LaFortune on the evening of January 25th for the 2nd annual Undergraduate Sustainability Research Expo. Hosted by the Campus Coalition on Research and Education for Sustainability (CREST), over 100 students filled the room with excitement and eagerness to learn as they meandered from table to table gathering information about current research and educational opportunities in energy, the environment, and other topics related to sustainability studies.


Research groups from the Colleges of Engineering and Science participated in the expo. They were happy to discuss their research programs with students who had an interest. Many of the students completed applications to conduct research this summer or during the upcoming academic year either for credit, pay, or merely to have the experience. Participating research groups included:

  • Jones Research Group – Dr. Stuart Jones, Assistant Professor, Department of Biological Sciences (Aquatic Ecology)
  • Kamat Research Group – Dr. Prashant Kamat, Professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry (Nanostructure Architectures and Energy Conversion Processes)
  • Kurama Research Group – Dr. Yahya (Gino) Kurama, Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences (Recycled Concrete Structural Applications)
  • Lamberti Research Group – Dr. Gary Lamberti, Professor, Department of Biological Sciences (Stream and Wetland Ecology)
  • Phillip Research Group – Dr. William Phillip, Assistant Professor, Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering (Water Purification and Advanced Transport Engineering)
  • Rocha Research Group – Dr. Adrian Rocha, Assistant Professor, Department of Biological Sciences (Ecosystem Exchanges of Mass and Energy)
  • Thrall Research Group – Dr. Ashley Thrall, Assistant Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences (Kinetic Structures)


In addition to research programs, other Notre Dame groups participated in the expo to discuss educational opportunities with interested undergraduate students.

  • Eck Institute for Global Health
  • Environmental Change Initiative, ND Gain, and LEEF
  • GLOBES and Reilly Center for Science, Technology and Values
  • Minor in Sustainability
  • ND Energy, Energy Studies Minor, Slatt Fellowships
  • Office of Sustainability

Not only were students presented with opportunities on campus, the following local organizations outside of Notre Dame participated in the expo to discuss external internship opportunities with the students.

  • Mishawaka Parks and Recreation
  • Prairie Winds Nature Farm
  • Sustainability and Environmental Education Center at Goshen College

Since 2012, the expo has been a cornerstone event for ND Energy to increase undergraduate participation in energy-related research at Notre Dame. The expo draws upon undergraduate students who are interested in conducting research and helps to match their interests with research groups who have openings within their laboratories. It also supports The Vincent P. Slatt Endowment for Undergraduate Research in Energy Systems and Processes by facilitating the application process and providing funding opportunities for students who may not otherwise have the means to participate in research.

In 2015, the expo was expanded to include energy, the environment, and other sustainability topics and is now hosted by ND Energy, the Environmental Change Initiative, GLOBES at the Reilly Center, and the Minor in Sustainability

For more information, visit CREST members at the Environmental Change InitiativeGLOBES at the Reilly CenterMinor in Sustainability, and ND Energy


Originally published by Barbara Villarosa at on February 17, 2016.