Students Win Award at Maine Sustainability and Water ConferenceA team of four Saint Joseph’s College science students won an Honorable Mention Award–one of only two awards given to undergraduate students from the 19 entries–at the poster session of the Maine Sustainability and Water Conference. The conference was organized by the Senator George J. Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions of the University of Maine and held at the Augusta Civic Center on March 31, 2017.

The conference brought together water system operators, certified planners, and scientists to address some of Maine’s pressing challenges with managing public water supplies and living sustainably. Saint Joseph’s College sent three faculty members and twenty-one students. Leia Berube, Tyler Allen, Nhu Vo, and Olivia Marable, a team of four students from Dr. Jeanne Gulnick’s “Special Topics in Environmental Science” class, presented their research on "Local and Sustainable Products for the Campus Store." The students researched the demographics of the campus store’s customers, the food and drink products that were purchased most frequently, and then whether or not it was feasible to substitute more sustainable and local options for those popular products. Their research found that, while the campus store did not currently offer products that could be considered local or sustainable, surveys suggested that customers were willing to pay more for those types of products. The team identified local substitutions and made recommendations to the store considering availability, customer preferences, and price.

The team of four students was called up on stage in front of the nearly 400 attendees to receive their honorable mention award, consisting of an engraved plaque and a cash prize. Other Saint Joseph’s College teams, comprised of environmental science and environmental chemistry students, presented on the role of education in reducing exposure to lead contamination in Maine’s public water supply, as well as food waste at the College and what could be done to address it.

Assistant Professor Emily Lesher presented at the conference on a new, joint project between the College and the Portland Water District (PWD)–the deployment of a water quality monitoring buoy in Sebago Lake. The buoy project was recently awarded a grant from the United States Geological Survey. She discussed that the data generated by the buoy will have multiple uses: to inform PWD operations, to support basic lake-related research at Saint Joseph’s College, and to engage with and educate Sebago Lake stakeholders to promote sustainable practices among landowners and recreational users.