Sustainability leaders recognized with 2021 Innovator and Lifetime Achievement Awards

Emory Report | May 4, 2021

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This year’s recipients of the Robert S. Hascall Sustainability Innovator and Outstanding Sustainability Representatives Awards, and the first recipients of Emory’s Sustainability Lifetime Achievement Awards (clockwise from top left): Sabrina Bauggue, Ben Rabin, Emaline Laney, Clint Owen, Mindy Goldstein, Asad Khan, Peggy Barlett, Eloise Carter, Bobbi Patterson, Eva Stotz, Nithya Narayanaswamy, Rachel Musetti, Gana Ahn and CJ O’Brien.

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During an Earth Week event on April 23, the Office of Sustainability Initiatives (OSI) announced Emory’s annual Robert S. Hascall Sustainability Innovator and Outstanding Sustainability Representatives Award recipients and the first Emory Sustainability Lifetime Achievement Award recipients.

Sustainability innovators are faculty, staff and students who exemplify the Emory community’s dedication to envisioning and enacting ways to make operational, academic, research, engagement and outreach work done at Emory more sustainable. In 2010, the Outstanding Sustainability Representative award began to recognize a Sustainability Representative who has excelled in his or her role.

This year, OSI presented its first Emory Sustainability Lifetime Achievement Awards to three longtime Emory faculty members who have recently retired or will soon transition to faculty emerita status.

“During this year of tragedy, communal loss, racial injustice and isolation, it feels especially prescient to recognize and honor the individuals in the Emory community who are making a positive impact in the world,” said Kelly Weisinger, director of the OSI. “We feel privileged to call these wonderful people our colleagues and friends, and with full hearts, we celebrate them on the 51st anniversary of Earth Day.”

 

Lifetime Achievement Award

Peggy Barlett, Goodrich C. White professor emerita, anthropology, Emory College of Arts and Sciences

Barlett’s impact at Emory is evident in every realm of campus sustainability life. Barlett chaired the Ad Hoc Committee on the Environment, co-chaired both the first and most recent sustainability visioning committees, led the Sustainable Food Committee and Sustainability Faculty Advisory Council, and served as faculty liaison to OSI for 13 years. Barlett advocated for the goal of 75% local and sustainable food procurement at Emory, a goal that has transformed how Emory and other higher education institutions see their responsibility to students, staff, farmers and communities to provide healthy, local food. It was her vision that led to the Oxford Organic Farm, Emory’s Farmers Market, the Emory Educational Garden Project and the annual Sustainability Food Fair. In addition, Barlett started and led Emory’s Piedmont Project, training Emory faculty to integrate sustainability into courses that are taught to hundreds of students. Barlett took this commitment further and advocated for and led the founding of the sustainability minor in interdisciplinary studies, which continues to provide Emory College students a course of study in sustainability in addition to their varied majors.

 

Lifetime Achievement Award

Eloise Carter, professor of biology, Oxford College

Carter has long been regarded as Oxford’s green conscience. In 1986, in tandem with then-professor William “Bill” Murdy, the two documented the rich diversity of vegetation and hardwood forests at Emory in “A Report on the Status of Forested Land of Emory University,” known also as the Murdy-Carter Report. The report served as a reference for many policy decisions regarding Emory’s environment, and eventually led to both the university's first forest protection plan and the foundation of today's campus land-use plan. As a member of the Quadrangle Forest Restoration Committee, Carter helped design Oxford’s quad to replace the dying canopy with a canopy and understory that mimicked a natural forest. For the Hearn Nature Trail that encircles Oxford’s campus, Carter recruited work-study students, sports teams and volunteers to remove invasive species. She also championed sustainable built environments, most recently when the College built the Oxford Science Building, which ultimately achieved LEED Gold certification. Carter is loved by students, especially for her field botany course in which they have been inspired by her joy and fascination with biodiversity.

 

Lifetime Achievement Award

Barbara (Bobbi) Patterson, professor emerita, religion, Emory College of Arts and Sciences

Patterson has served in many critical roles since joining Emory in 1981, including a reflective, compassionate and soulful voice for OSI. Her inspired leadership helped expand the realm of sustainability work most directly through her contributions to the Emory as Place initiative. As a faculty associate of OSI, Patterson employed her expertise in experiential and narrative teaching to create tours of campus forests, an Emory civil rights tour and a campus-wide scavenger hunt and other activities for student residents. Her work teaching students and training faculty to use methodologies that elucidate intersections of religion and ecology contributed to the American Academy of Religion recognizing Patterson with the Excellence in Teaching Award. She also helped students immerse themselves in sustainability work by coordinating an internship course that placed students in sustainability-related organizations in Atlanta. In every way, she has embodied and taught from a grounded place of pedagogy, engagement and care for people and the planet.

 

Health care Sustainability Innovators

Sabrina Bauggue, Asad Khan and Clint Owens, Emory University Hospital

Owens, the unit director in two Neuroscience Intensive Care Units of Emory University Hospital (EUH), wrote a compelling proposal to Emory Healthcare leadership last year calling for the reduction of plastic waste. Bauggue, EUH’s director of food and nutrition services, and Khan, the assistant director of food and nutrition at EUH, without hesitation began evaluating where single-use plastic could be reduced in the hospital’s cafes. Within weeks, they had removed the plastic bags handed out at every cash register and trained staff to offer reusable bags when needed. In the process, they estimate that more than 2,000 pounds of plastic waste will be reduced with a potential cost savings of $1,212 annually. This effort has spurred further elimination of plastic bags in EUH retail areas, including the gift shop, and is an important example that will encourage all Emory Healthcare retail areas to make the switch.

 

Staff Sustainability Innovator

Gana Ahn, Communications and Public Affairs

Ahn is director of enterprise communications at Emory University’s Communications and Public Affairs division and is responsible for strategic planning and implementation of university-wide media relations and thought leadership. Ahn has made telling the stories of sustainability and social justice on our campus and in our community a priority. She ensures that the social, environmental and economic benefits of Emory’s sustainability practices are highlighted and amplified through campus, local and national news outlets. Ahn is a superb communicator and connector. She was even a part of the Emory communications team recognized for their collaborative piece “From Georgia farms to Emory tables” announcing Emory’s partnership with the Working Farms Fund of The Conservation Fund.

 

Faculty Sustainability Innovator

Mindy Goldstein, Emory Law

Goldstein is clinical professor and director of the environmental and natural resources law program at Emory Law, director of the Turner Environmental Law Clinic, and director of law and policy for the Resilience and Sustainability Collaboratory. Goldstein has performed all the legal work in support of the Working Farms Fund partnership between Emory, The Conservation Fund and Georgia farmers, crafting food purchase agreements that set a model for the rest of the country. Goldstein serves as a sounding board for creative ideas from offsets for regenerative agriculture to appropriate soil lead levels. Goldstein also served for multiple years as the co-chair of the Emory Sustainable Food Committee, advising on sustainable food procurement, programming and outreach for the Emory enterprise.

 

Undergraduate Student Sustainability Innovator

Rachel Musetti, Zero Waste Ambassadors program

Musetti, an Emory College senior and Oxford continuee, will graduate with a major in environmental sciences and minor in sustainability sciences. This year, Musetti took the Zero Waste Ambassador (ZWA) program (a peer-to-peer education program OSI launched when adopting the 2018 waste policy and standardized bins) and transformed it into an engaging virtual empowerment program instead of letting it languish during the pandemic. Musetti employed her outreach skills, video-making skills and coordinating abilities to offer Emory University and Emory Healthcare ZWAs platforms to share weekly blogs on waste topics, to gather waste-related questions answered monthly by ZWAs in a Trash Talks video series and provide a way for sustainability champions to build relationships with each other.

 

Student Sustainability Innovators

Nithya Narayanaswamy and CJ O’Brien, Plastic-free Emory

O’Brien, a second-year master’s degree student in development practice, took note of a growing number of campuses committing to eliminate unnecessary single-use plastics. O’Brien began connecting with other student sustainability leaders about this idea, and luckily, met Narayanaswamy, a second-year Oxford College student studying biology and philosophy. Together, they started a student group, Plastic-Free Emory, and presented and received support for a plastics reduction pledge from many campus groups, including the Oxford, Atlanta and Graduate Student Government Associations; the BBA Council; and, most recently, the full University Senate.

 

Graduate Student Sustainability Innovators

Emaline Laney and Ben Rabin, Emory Medical Students for Climate Action

Laney and Rabin are current medical students and co-founders of Emory Medical Students for Climate Action, galvanizing conversations in the School of Medicine on climate change, health equity, and social and racial justice. They worked with Becca Philipsborn 13M, assistant professor of pediatrics and primary care pediatrician at Emory and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, develop, publish, and implement curricula on climate and health for the first two years of medical school for every Emory student. In partnership with Philipsborn, Laney and Rabin also co-authored, “The Unique Role of Medical Students in Catalyzing Climate Change Education,” which was published in the Journal of Medical Education and Curricular Development. Laney and Rabin also recently joined medical students from all over the world to assess their schools for climate curriculum by completing the Planetary Health Report Card. Emory’s top ranking underscored the work of these two visionaries, while also identifying areas where the School of Medicine can improve.

 

Outstanding Sustainability Representative

Eva Stotz, Anthropology Department

Stotz is the sustainability representative and academic degree program coordinator for the Department of Anthropology, which has been Green Office certified for many years. As part of her role at Emory, Stotz administers the sustainability minor in interdisciplinary studies, which is open to all undergraduate students and is one of the first and most thorough introductions many Emory students have to sustainability at Emory. Stotz provided critical data from these areas for the academics and research sections of this year’s Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS) report. Stotz also served for four months on Emory’s Greenhouse Gas and Climate Solutions Advisory Committee.