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2nd Annual Catalyst Awards [2012]

The Office of Sustainability is proud to recognize the significant efforts that take place at McGill to grow toward campus sustainability. The Catalyst Awards and the Emerald Key acknowledge the students and staff who have gone above and beyond in their work to integrate sustainability into McGill's knowledgebase, operations, and culture.

 

Emerald Key

The Emerald Key is given out to a student who has made an outstanding and enduring contribution to the sustainability movement at McGill University. 
 
Max Luke           Emerald Key 2012

 

The Catalyst Awards from The Office of Sustainability

The Catalyst Awards are given out to students, academic, administrative and support staff who have contributed to the sustainability movement at McGill University in the following categories:

 

Joshua Fletcher-Kyle

Award for Student Collaboration on Sustainability with the Administration 2012

Macdonald Sudent-run Ecological Garden

Catalyst Award for Lessons Learned in Sustainability 2012

Teva Recycling Initiative

Catalyst Award for Applied Student Research in Sustainability 2012

Caroline Begg

Catalyst Award for Staff Contribution to Sustainability 2012

McGill Ground Service Team Catalyst Award for Staff Contribution to Sustainability 2012
Jim Nicell Special Career Achievement Award 2012

 


 

Max Luke (Emerald Key Award)

Max’s work in sustainability and community engagement at McGill began in his first year as a member of Greenpeace McGill and Peace by Peace, a SSMU club that runs a 10-week conflict resolution program for grade 4 and 5 Montreal classrooms. In second year Max got involved with the Environment Students’ Society and with the incredibly exciting fall student referendum that led to the creation of the Sustainability Projects Fund. In his third year at McGill Max was the President of the Environment Students’ Society and a member of the Sustainability Projects Fund Work Group. Max also created the SSMU Community Engagement Committee and a $20,000 per year fund that is used to support initiatives which link McGill students to community engagement initiatives in Montreal and abroad.

Max has always been involved in sustainability-related groups and initiatives on campus, and each year his involvement has been more extensive and impactful. In his first two years, he was involved with Greenpeace McGill and Peace by Peace a SSMU club that runs a 10-week conflict resolution program for grade 4 and 5 Montreal classrooms, as well as heavily campaigning for the Sustainable Projects Fund during the referendum on its creation. In his third year, he became president of the McGill Environment Students’ Society, sat on the SPF Working Group, and created the SSMU Community Engagement Committee and fund, which works to support initiatives linking McGill students to community engagement initiatives in Montreal and abroad.

However, it has been his work this year that has truly distinguished him as a sustainability champion at McGill. As student Senator, Max helped with the organization of a faculty forum which brought faculty members and members of the Senior Administration together to talk about sustainability in research and curriculum. In the fall of 2011, for an independent study Max and his team for interviewed over 40 individuals from the McGill community and McGill’s comparator universities to understand how academic departments are thinking about sustainability and what the best strategies are for integrating sustainability into the curriculum. They produced a comprehensive report titled “Sustainability & Curriculum at McGill University: A Toolkit for Effective Strategy Building.” He then followed up this work in the winter semester as an intern at the Office of Sustainability. He worked closely with Susanna Klassen, another intern at the Office, to devise and implement strategies for the integration of sustainability into the curriculum, with particular emphasis on applied student research. They have been engaged in a series of discussion with the School of Environment and professors from across the university and have initiated a process that may lead to the creation of a new courses that will make it easier for students across disciplines to access sustainability-focused applied student research. Finally, this year Max has been working with the Office for Social Equity and Diversity Education (SEDE) to create Community Engagement Day, a campus-wide experience that will have the McGill community venturing into Montreal to partake in community engagement initiatives which address social needs. Community Engagement Day is marked for October 5, 2012.

Max has been involved with countless groups and projects on campus and, through his work on sustainability & curriculum, has shifted perceptions on the role of sustainability in the education offered by McGill and has paved the way for other passionate students to explore these topics.


Joshua Fletcher-Kyle (Award for Student Collaboration on Sustainability with the Administration)

Joshua has worked with the Office of Sustainability, the Hazardous Waste Management Program, and EUS to form Reboot McGill in 2010. Now an integral part of McGill’s landscape, Reboot extends the lifespan of McGill’s used computers by refurbishing and donating them to campus groups, students, the wider McGill community and off campus non-profits.

This year, Joshua collected the personal e-waste generated by members of the McGill community by organizing a two-day e-waste collection event. He worked with Campus & Space Planning, the Office of Sustainability, and a local electronics disposal company to pull off a well-received and highly successful event, with them collected 2000 pounds of electronics. With such massive support for the pilot collection, Joshua plans to use the momentum to expand the event next year, hopefully leading to it being held regularly.

Additionally, Joshua has worked with the IT Disposal Working Group, to improve IT disposal practices, and with Procurements to streamline asset management. Joshua has demonstrated a keen ability to re-imagine the way materials are consumed and disposed of on campus a knack for working with people on all levels to create the necessary connections to bring about change.

 

 


Macdonald Student-run Ecological Garden (Catalyst Award for ‘lessons learned’)

The Macdonald Student-run Ecological Garden was started in 2009 and is currently run by students Alice Pradel, Anna Elbon, Emily McGill, Katryna van Vliet, Pauline Richard, Sophie Price, and Russel Vinegar, is a project centred around providing students with the opportunity to learn and apply sustainable agriculture in practical ways. They have made hands-on farming experience and provide student-grown food on campus.

The MSEG has overcome many struggles. In starting and running a farm for the first time, the students quickly discovered the importance of having clearly defined roles and strong communication amongst group members. Through the course of the actual planting and production, the MSEG students learned to ask for help from their farm neighbours and mentors, drawing on the vast knowledge of those around them. Lastly, they recognized that the long-term continuity of the project required a consistently engaged group of students, so they worked to integrate the project into program and course work.

By treating each set-back and difficulty as an opportunity for improvement and growth, MSEG has developed a clear presence on Macdonald campus and intimately connects students with their food, promoting an appreciation for local, sustainable agriculture.

 

 


Teva Recycling Initiative (Catalyst Award for Applied Student Research)

The Teva Recycling Initiative is an incredible example of how students can use academically rigorous experimentation to make concrete impacts within the university. It is a joint venture between McGill students and administrators to improve recycling rates on campus. It is a group that provides research and consulting to McGill University by performing experiments on the recycling system and recommending detailed and impartial solutions to recycling issues.

 Teva consists of current and former McGill students with backgrounds in business, engineering, economics and neuroscience. It started in 2009 with a pilot project to redesign the McLennan Library's waste management system. In 2011 it expanded to study several recycling systems in the Schulich Library, with thorough auditing. Upon presented its research to administrators, which demonstrated a significant improvement in recycling rates with the centralized system they had designed, they received permission to implement the system across six high-traffic on-campus libraries and raised the necessary funding to implement the project.

Teva is driven by a deep interest in sustainability as well as a collective motivation to design meaningful projects and bring them to fruition. And they are demonstrating that such a model can have huge and positive impacts.

 


 

Caroline Begg (Catalyst Award for staff contribution to sustainability)

Caroline Begg is a dedicated teacher and advisor who has gone above and beyond the call of duty to ensure students are given every opportunity possible to be involved in the McGill community, especially when it comes to sustainability initiatives.

Her championing of applied student research has been pivotal in the success of many projects. She has worked hard to support the Macdonald Student-run Ecological Garden students, helping them connect with local farmers, develop the framework for the project’s operations, and integrate the project with coursework, as well as acting as a wonderful mentor for the students. She has been a key member of the Out of the Garden Project, a project working to create a collaborative cafe that will integrate the skills and values of the Macdonald Campus community. It’s goals are to promotes student engagement and conversation from the agriculture, food science, environment and nutrition programs. She is also currently supervising the Farmer’s Market applied student research.

She constantly and consistently finds ways to engage students and promote respectful relationships amongst community members. With her contagious enthusiasm and positively, she is a truly inspirational figure at the university that all can look up to.

 

 


 

Ground Services, including Angelo Tambasco and Eric Champagne (Catalyst Award for staff contribution to sustainability)

The Grounds Services team has embodied the spirit of innovation, collaboration, and eagerness to adopt sustainable practices in they daily activities. They demonstrate the importance of the sustainability mind shift in looking for ways to reduce their impacts and preserve the environment.

Examples of their efforts are countless, and include: xeriscaping and native landscaping to preserve local biodiversity, not using pesticides or chemicals on the lawns for aesthetics, using natural methods of pest control as much as possible, experimenting with less environmentally toxic road salt, favouring rakes over leaf-blowers, trying a biodiesel conversion on one of their trucks, and so many more. Grounds Services has also been engaged in the Big Hanna composter project since its inception, not only through operations but through the planning as well. They ensure that all the finish compost product is used, facilitating its distribution amongst the campus groups like Campus Crops and Edible Campus, as well as using a large portion of the compost themselves in the maintenance of the grounds.

Through their diligent hard work, dedication, and willingness to take on projects proposed to them, they have made the university campus much greener and more sustainable in countless ways.


 

Jim Nicell (Special Career Achievement Award)

Dr. Jim Nicell completed his undergraduate training in chemical engineering at the University of Windsor in 1985.  Following the completion of a Master of Applied Science degree in 1986, he accepted a two year appointment as a lecturer in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Windsor.  He then went on to complete a Ph.D. in environmental engineering in 1991 at the same institution.  Subsequently, in 1992 he joined the Department of Civil Engineering & Applied Mechanics of McGill University as an Assistant Professor.  He was appointed as an Associate Professor in June 1997.

In between his studies, Dr. Nicell gained considerable experience in the practical aspects of environmental engineering. Over the years, he has worked in a parttime capacity for several environmental consulting firms in South Western Ontario and Michigan.  This work has brought him a variety of fascinating experiences in locations all across North America.  He has sampled air quality at locations a mile underground to a height of 250 meters in the air, perched precariously on the side of incinerator smoke stacks.  While conducting environmental audits, he has been virtually broiled in the middle of winter in the hellish atmosphere of steel foundries and has suffered hypothermia in an unexpected August blizzard in Northern Alberta.  These wide and varied experiences have done nothing to dampen his enthusiasm for his career in environmental engineering.  Typical examples of environmental engineering and industrial hygiene projects in which he played a major role include:  measurement and dispersion modeling of odourous emissions from industrial sources; asbestos and organic vapour sampling; stack emissions measurements for organics, heavy metals and particulates; destruction of cyanides in groundwater; air exchange rate measurements; assessment of the impact of the application of municipal sludges to agricultural land; impact assessment of road expansions and increased traffic flow on air quality in surrounding neighborhoods; and venturi scrubber design and modelling.

Dr. Nicell's research interests are diverse.  His Master's research involved the development of a standard method for the measurement of the impact of odourous emissions from on surrounding communities.  The Ontario Ministry of the Environment is currently employing this method for the measurement of odour thresholds of pure chemical compounds in air.  This method has also been adopted by a large number of industries and private consultants in Ontario and Michigan who wish to assess odorous emissions and to the test the effectiveness of process modifications in reducing these emissions.  His doctoral research was an original contribution to the area of industrial wastewater treatment using enzymes and remains the primary focus of his current research endeavors.  This research focuses on the use of enzymes isolated from vegetable sources (e.g. horseradishes, cauliflowers, mushrooms and soy beans) for the removal of toxic pollutants (phenols and aromatic amines) from wastewaters.  This work will find potential application in the treatment of chemical/petrochemical wastewaters, landfill leachate, and groundwater and soil remediation.  Others research interests include:  the design of environmentally friendly and affordable homes; ozonation of wastewaters to enhance biodegradability of pollutants; and development of community solid waste management strategies.  Dr. Nicell has authored or coauthored approximately 50 publications and a similar number of technical reports since 1992.  More are on the way.

Following the completion of a Master of Applied Science in 1986, Jim Nicell first worked as a lecturer for two years in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Windsor. He then went on to complete a Ph.D. in environmental engineering at the same institution. Subsequently, Dr. Nicell joined the Department of Civil Engineering & Applied Mechanics of McGill University in 1992 and was appointed Associate Professor in June 1997. In between his studies, Dr. Nicell gained considerable experience in the practical aspects of environmental engineering. Over the years, he has worked in a parttime capacity for several environmental consulting firms in South Western Ontario and Michigan.  This work has brought him a variety of fascinating experiences in locations all across North America.

Dr. Nicell's research interests are diverse. A method of the measurement of the impact of odourous emissions from surroundings communities he developed during his Master is now employed by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, among others. His doctoral research was an original contribution to the area of industrial wastewater treatment using enzymes and remains the primary focus of his current research endeavors. Dr. Nicell has also authored or coauthored approximately 50 publications and a similar number of technical reports since 1992.  More are on the way.