Student research and projects
Environmental Interest SurveyJustine Kreischer Geography 452 - Cultural Ecology
Are students at UW-Whitewater interested in environmental issues? If the university is to invest in programs to support sustainability agendas, then it needs the support of the student community to make the efforts topics of discussion within student organizations, and successful in the long term.
Kreischer administered a survey to nine classes on campus. The objective was to gauge campus environmental awareness and interest. The survey discovered that a large percentage of students would be willing to financially support environmental programs on campus, would like to see alternatives to turfgrass lawns on campus, and a majority would be interested in using new recreational trail extensively. Although there does seem to be interest in "greening" the campus, only a minority of students are interested in volunteering their time.
Turfgrass AlternativesJarred Lassiter Geography 452 - Cultural Ecology
Are Americans in love with their lawns? Or do we continue to manage vast expanses of lawn because it is socially correct, or is it because we don't know any better? Maintenance requirements of lawns are high, and the use of chemicals and fertilizers carry risks to the environment. Thirty billion dollars are spent annually to maintain forty million acres of lawn in the US.
Lassiter discusses alternatives to the turfgrass lawn, including use of clover, native prairie grasses, flowering plants, and xeriscaping, as well as limited maintenance of turfgrass. Many colleges and universities have begun to explore the use of lawn alternatives as a replacement for trees and bushes, but are reluctant to replace lawns because of aesthetics. Whitewater has slowly made some changes; Lassiter suggests a plan that could be implemented in order to evaluate several alternatives, and would allow students to be actively involved in the study.
Prairie Seed CollectionPaige Peterson Geography 452 - Cultural Ecology
UW-Whitewater has been involved with the process of restoring prairies since the early 1980s. The campus community has long realized the importance of reclaiming the prairies, and recently has considered the replacement of traditional turfgrass lawns for maintenance and aesthetic reasons.
In this report, Peterson takes us through the process of acquiring seeds to create the prairie. Restoring a prairie is not as simple as going to your local landscape company and buying a bag of seeds - each prairie is unique in the species it supports. The appropriate species must be identified, and sources for the seeds found. Peterson describes methods of collection, and discusses the need for campus involvement in the time-intensive seed collection process. SAGE, Students Allied for a Greener Earth, assisted in the effort that resulted in the collection of seeds of seven species. Collection of the seeds will reduce the expenditures necessary to restore prairie areas.
Glacial Heritage Recreation TrailJennifer Rahn Geography 452 - Cultural Ecology
The Wisconsin DNR has announced the development of the Glacial Heritage Area(GHA),dedicated to preserving remnants of the last glaciation in southeastern Wisconsin. Much of the activity is focused in Jefferson and western Waukesha counties. The hope is to provide recreational activities and trails that will allow residents and visitors to enjoy the natural and agricultural areas, including several trails centered around Fort Atkinson, WI. The city is already recognized as a bicycling hub, and such a trail would support commuters as well as visitors.
Rahn proposes routing for a trail that would connect Fort Atkinson and Whitewater, using a combination of paved, dedicated trails, existing bikeways, and rustic roads. The trail could be used for a variety of non-motorized purposed. By using roadways, the cost to develop the trail can be reduced, while eliminating current routing along busy highways, making the routes more "family friendly."
"Hypermiling" with a ScanGauge II - Spring 2009
Jeremy Deibert as part of his Human Environmental Problems (GEOG252) class in Spring 2009 used a ScanGauge II to monitor his vehicle mileage to and from the university. Drawing suggestions from the hypermiling website, Jeremey was able to raise his gas mileage from 29 mpg to 35 mpg – an increase of 21%!
Alternative energy wind turbine - Fall 2008
Using funding from an Undergraduate Research Grant, Greg Koschak, an education major, designed and built a wind turbine which he hopes to develop into a kit for high school science classes. Current plans are to install the turbine on Upham Hall's roof to measure the turbine's performance.
Sustainability and supply chain management - Fall 2008
In the Fall of 2008, Dr. Sameer Prasad's Supply Chain Systems class examined our campus's resource usage to calculate energy and CO2 footprints for all academic buildings on campus. See the project website to see their project presentation, reports, and data.
"Greening" Whitewater - Class project - Spring 2008
As part of Dr. Eric Compas's Cultural Ecology and Sustainable Development class (GEOG452), the class examined environmental practices on UW-Whitewater and developed a suite of recommendations. A video of their presentation to the Chancellor is available along with a wiki of their recommendations. This project led directly to hiring our campus Sustainability Coordinator.