Learning Environment

Sustainability Grants Enable Student Research

Thalika Saintil
CAES graduate student Thalika Saintil tests the water in a Lake Herrick tributary, a project made possible by a 2016 Campus Sustainability Grant.

Two College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences students each received one of only 10 grants from the University of Georgia Office of Sustainability’s 2016 Campus Sustainability Grants Program. The program funds student-initiated projects that further the university’s sustainability goals.

One of the projects, “Greek Goes Green,” was awarded $5,000 to reduce waste in fraternity houses. It was created by Anna Trakhman, a fourth-year environmental economics and management major in CAES, and Matt Siegel, a management information systems major in the Terry College of Business, both from Marietta, Georgia. 

The duo recruited six fraternities to participate in the waste reduction initiative and worked with Joe Dunlop, from Athens-Clarke County’s Recycling Division, to ensure that those fraternities could obtain the appropriate recycling bins. Educational materials on recycling techniques were also provided.

“We want all Greek houses to naturally want to recycle and to do so consistently,” Trakhman said. 

Graduate student Thalika Saintil, from Port-au-Prince, Haiti, focused on fecal bacteria source tracking and nutrient analysis in Lake Herrick, part of UGA’s Athens Campus. She was awarded $4,978 to help identify potential sources for the lake’s pollution. Saintil collected water samples from below the Lake Herrick dam and the lake’s two inflow tributaries: Birdsong, which drains the forested area, and Armadillo, which drains part of the Five Points neighborhood.

“There are other faculty and students working on the lake itself, but not assessing the surrounding streams,” she said. “I wanted to determine what is coming into the lake and how much pollution the lake is contributing to the Oconee River.” 

Saintil, who is studying crop and soil sciences at CAES, found that bacteria concentrations in the tributaries were very high during storms and exceeded the state water quality standard. Between storms, the concentrations were much lower and usually met the standard. This indicates that the sources of bacteria are likely runoff from the urban and forested areas. Bacteria concentrations leaving the lake were low and met the water quality standard. Saintil plans to repeat her sampling and analysis process with different tributaries.

CAES professors Terence Centner and David Radcliffe advised on Trakhman and Saintil’s projects, respectively.

“Both projects add ongoing value to enhance the quality of life in our community and the culture of sustainability at UGA,” said Kevin Kirsche, director of the Office of Sustainability.

Story by: April Bailey

Anna Trakhman
Anna Trakhman also received a grant from the UGA Office of Sustainability to pursue her "Greek Goes Green" project. Trakhman is pictured on Milledge Avenue, home of many UGA fraternity and sorority houses. (Photo by Kathryn Schiliro)