2022 Faculty Sustainability Awards

2022 Faculty Sustainability Awards

The Sustainability Awards program at UNH seeks to celebrate and incentivize research and scholarship, curriculum development and teaching, campus initiatives and culture, and external engagement activities and achievements that best embody the principles and practices of sustainability. UNH is a national leader in sustainability and recognizes and raises the visibility of individuals and teams who are addressing sustainability issues across and beyond the university. From small and emergent, to large and complex, the Sustainability Awards shines a light on the full spectrum of actions that contribute to sustainability at and beyond UNH. 

Award Levels

  • Platinum: demonstrates exemplary work that explicitly addresses the concept of sustainability or a major sustainability challenge
  • Gold: demonstrates outstanding work that explicitly addresses the concept of sustainability or a major sustainability challenge
  • Silver: demonstrates excellent work that explicitly addresses the concept of sustainability or a major sustainability challenge
  • Bronze: demonstrates emergent or promising work that explicitly addresses the concept of sustainability or a major sustainability challenge
  • Lifetime Achievement: Recognizes significant multi-year body of work 

Sustainability Champions

  • Recognizes faculty nominees for their work in advancing sustainability

Faculty Awards

Lifetime Achievement

Ruth Varner

Professor in the Earth Systems Research Center of the Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space, and in the Department of Earth Sciences; Director Emerita of the Joan and James Leitzel Center for Mathematics, Science, and Engineering Education  
As a faculty member at UNH for almost two decades, Dr. Varner has developed an internationally recognized laboratory, raised millions of dollars, and mentored hundreds of students investigating the role of global warming on the production of methane from wetlands and peatlands in the northern hemisphere. Her research program has contributed directly to improving our understanding of the relationship between ecological and social systems while focusing on the major sustainability challenges of climate change. 

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Faculty Research Awards

Weiwei Mo headshot with platinum award icon

Weiwei Mo

Associate Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, College of Engineering and Physical Sciences 
Dr. Mo applies systems-based thinking to link environment, social wellbeing, infrastructure and climate change in her multiple externally funded grants. Dr. Mo's research is helping lower vulnerabilities of water and energy systems while helping develop policies that are conducive to improving social equity and in addition to exemplary research. 

Gregg Moore and sustainability award gold icon

Gregg Moore

Associate Professor, Biological Sciences, College of Life Sciences and Agriculture 
Dr. Moore’s collaborative work addresses the major sustainability challenge of coastal disturbance due to climate change. It is transdisciplinary in exploration of anthropogenic management of invasive species, implementation of restoration and management actions on landscape scales, and social-environmental justice and equity. 

Kenneth Johnson with silver award icon

Kenneth Johnson

Professor of Sociology; Senior Demographer, Carsey School of Public Policy; Andrew Carnegie Fellow
Professor Johnson has made significant contributions to UNH’s commitment to sustainability with high quality research and scholarship that informs policymaking at the nexus of the human-environmental interface. His research on the interaction between human and natural resonates with sustainability’s focuses on inequality and healthy communities.

Catherine Ashcraft with bronze award icon

Catherine Ashcraft

Assistant Professor, Natural Resources and the Environment, College of Life Sciences and Agriculture
Dr. Ashcraft is an internationally respected sustainability leader and researcher who approaches her research with a collaborative, interdisciplinary and creative approach, while simultaneously engaging students in applied policy analysis, negotiation and conflict resolution. Her approach to sustainability research has always been inclusive with a strong interest in diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

Faculty Curriculum Awards

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Felix "Skip" DeVito

Instructor, College of Engineering and Physical Sciences 
Felix DeVito has been committed to sustainability for decades as an architect, graduate of the UNH Engineering program and instructor in the CEE Department. In addition to teaching Green Building Design, DeVito initiated the Department of Energy (DOE) Solar Decathlon Design Challenge for the Capstone Project for senior engineering students. 

Julianna Gesun with gold sustainability award icon

Julianna Gesun

Postdoctoral Diversity and Innovation Scholar, Mechanical Engineering, College of Engineering and Physical Sciences 
Dr. Gesun collaborated closely with the Sustainability Institute to develop novel curricula with UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) for first-year mechanical engineering students. As a scholar in engineering education, she redesigned team projects and course lectures for her students to create solutions to sustainability-related challenges by applying the engineering design process and solid modeling skills.

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Nan Yi

Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering, College of Engineering and Physical Sciences 
Dr. Yi is a respected professor and champion for innovative practices and research within sustainable energy resources. He leads a catalysis research group which strives to achieve his goals of replacing petroleum derived chemical and fuel production with more sustainable routes. Additionally, his students’ laude his approach to teaching, which integrates research into his classrooms and STEM outreach activity. 

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The Empathy Project Team, UNH Library

Eugenia Opuda and the Empathy Project Team demonstrate a deep understanding of sustainability in terms of social well-being and the ties between human dignity and international equity. Through their interdisciplinary collaborative research process with partners in UNH Library, UNH-M Library, UNH Law Library, Academic Technology, UNH Museum, Institute on Disability, Education department, and multiple social justice consultants, and implementation of module-based learning for library and museum workers across the nation, they are helping these communities to consider their biases and take a more empathetic approach to community learning spaces. 

Faculty Engagement Awards

David Mortenson with gold sustainability award icon

David Mortensen

Chair and Professor, Agriculture, Nutrition and Food Systems, College of Life Sciences and Agriculture
This award recognizes Dr. Mortensen’s critical leadership, vision, and dedication to helping develop and launch the UNH Food Repurposing Project (FRP). After a multi-year planning process and April 2021 launch, the FRP mission resides at the sustainable development goal nexus of advancing human dignity and ecological integrity. 

Shannon Rogers with sustainability silver icon

Shannon Rogers

Associate State Specialist and Associate Extension Professor, Cooperative Extension and Department of Natural Resources and the Environment; Co-PI, Nature Economy Collaborative 
Dr. Rogers leads the Nature Economy program to understand how communities connect to the environment as well as how natural resources, challenges, and opportunities for expanding these connections foster vibrant economies and a high quality of life. She has also developed an innovative and inclusive Downtowns and Trails Program to work with communities and worked closely with three communities in NH to explore actions to leverage natural assets for economic vibrancy.

Jamie Houle with sustainability bronze award icon

Jamie Houle

Research Assistant Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, College of Engineering and Physical Sciences
Dr. Houle has worked with the UNH Utilities office to lead efforts to advocate for a new type of stormwater regulation that allows and incentivizes communities and institutions to tackle non-point source nitrogen pollution. In his role at the Stormwater Center, Dr. Houle has created a tool and process, providing crucial advising and support for quantifying non-point source nitrogen pollution reductions on our campus, as well as for towns who are also part of this new type of permit across the Seacoast. 

Faculty Nominees: Sustainability Champions

Mike Alvarez

Postdoctoral Research Associate, Communication, College of Liberal Arts 
Dr. Alvarez is nominated based upon his scholarship which seeks to restore human dignity to groups that are highly stigmatized or disenfranchised. Dr. Alvarez’s research focuses on communication about suicide and end of life in interpersonal and mediated contexts, and stigmatized individuals’ use of digital platforms to co-create meaning and community.   

Stephanie Brockmann

Assistant Professor, Economics, Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics 
Dr. Brockmann demonstrates leadership in sustainability through her research, which focuses on how interactions between people and the environment can create economic inefficiencies with negative impacts on sustainability. She strives to identify policy interventions that can remedy those impacts in addition to pursuing a series of related studies examining the interactions of invasive species, recreational uses, and nutrient levels in Lake Michigan. 

Analena Bruce

Assistant Professor, Agriculture, Nutrition, and Food Systems, College of Life Sciences and Agriculture 
Dr. Bruce has a strong commitment to researching the ways inequitable systems and structures impact our food system and how increasing participation and engagement in local food value chains will benefit all of us and contribute to a stronger, more resilient regional food system. As part of the CORE IWG project, Food and Climate Research Network, Dr. Bruce’s Food Systems lab is examining the ways that we can strengthen our local and regional food supply chains by increasing consumer participation in and access to local markets, especially among underrepresented and marginalized populations.

Matt Davis

Associate Professor, Earth Sciences, College of Engineering and Physical Sciences 
For over a decade, Dr. Davis has applied his expertise in water resources development towards the development of shallow geothermal energy as a resource that can meet our heating needs and transition us off fossil fuels. As a member of the UNH Energy Task, Dr. Davis has taken the lead on several initiatives to advance UNH towards its goal of carbon neutrality, working with external partners such as Eversource and Oak Ridge National Lab. 

Jeff Garnas

Associate Professor, Natural Resources and the Environment, College of Life Sciences and Agriculture 
A serious side effect of global trade is an increase in the long-distance transport of invasive insects and other forest pathogens by humans. Using a fundamental lens of evolutionary and community ecology, Dr. Garnas and his team are working to understand these challenges while also developing responses that can help protect and sustain our regional and global forests. 

Michael Palace

Associate Professor, Earth Sciences, College of Engineering and Physical Sciences 
Dr. Palace’s research uses field measurements, remote sensing and geospatial science to engage in interdisciplinary research on forest structure, cyanobacteria and water quality, permafrost collapse and vegetation change, human settlements, and characterization of the cryosphere. In addition to bringing his research into his classes at UNH, Dr. Palace also serves in leadership positions where he has helped shape graduate and undergraduate education at UNH. 

Amin Rafiei

Postdoctoral Research Associate, Civil and Environmental Engineering, College of Engineering and Physical Sciences 
Dr. Amin Rafiei is nominated for his interdisciplinary research in Marine Geotechnics and Mechanical Engineering. The findings of his current research will potentially provide guidelines for the effective design of coastal protection systems that can save the lives of individuals, particularly within undeveloped coastal communities. 

Jo Sias

Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, College of Engineering and Physical Sciences 
Dr. Sias is the director of the UNH Center for Infrastructure Resilience to Climate (UCIRC) and is a longstanding leader in the field of resilient infrastructure addressing climate change impact in NH and beyond. Dr. Sias' research focus extends well beyond NH as she has been engaged for the last decade with ICNet Global, an interdisciplinary network focused on understanding climate resilience and accelerating the synthesis between climate science and transportation engineering research. 

Sustainable Dairy Nutrition Research Team:

Andre Brito, Associate Professor, Agriculture, Nutrition and Food Systems; Alexandra Contosta, Research Assistant Professor, Earth Systems Research Center; and Ryan Courtright, Organic Dairy Research Farm, Farm Manager
The Sustainable Dairy Nutrition Research Team is investigating the supplementation of dairy cow diets with seaweed to improve milk quality, animal health, and soil nutrient cycling while greatly reducing emissions from methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.