Summer Sustainability Research Fellowship

As attendees of a research institution, UK students have the valuable opportunity to engage with world-class research related to a wide array of topics. For students looking to get involved with sustainability research in Kentucky and throughout the United States, the Summer Sustainability Research Fellowship program is a valuable place to begin their journey of
Since 2017, a partnership between the Office of Undergraduate Research and Student
Sustainability Council has allowed UK students to conduct sustainability related research during their summer break. Every summer, undergraduate students are paired with faculty mentors to conduct research during the summer months and contribute to advancing our knowledge about various sustainability-centered issues. This partnership has resulted in a competitive program that allows students to produce valuable research related to soil microbial communities, the local food economy, pollinator habitats, plastic waste reduction, and much more. 
In recent years, this program has undergone an exciting expansion that allows UK students to travel to other universities to participate in ongoing research through the Intercollegiate Sustainability Research Experience (ISRE) program. Based on the National Science Foundation’s National Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) model, this program allows UK students to spend their summers at universities such as Louisiana State University, Auburn University, UC Riverside, New Mexico University, and University of Delaware. Their faculty mentors at the participating Universities are all UK alumni, allowing students to connect with other former Wildcats. Not only does this program give undergraduate students unique research experience, but it also fosters a strong partnership between UK alumni and current students. 

Macy Hagan, ISRE Student at LSU 2019

Many exciting partnerships, publications, and skills have resulted from this summer research experience. One student spent her summer at the University of Delaware studying social networks and oyster consumption and remarked it was the most positive experience of her undergraduate career. Another student who studied pollinator conservation at Louisiana State University recently published her research, “Buzz about Bee Campuses: Student Thoughts Regarding Pollinator Conservation”, in the American Entomologist Journal. It is the first student-
published research article from the ISRE program!

Macy Hagan, ISRE student at LSU 2019

By intentionally housing these summer research experiences under the Sustainability Fellowship program, the Office of Undergraduate Research has been able to communicate that sustainability research takes many forms, involves many disciplines, and touches both the natural and social sciences. This program has been successful at showing a diverse cohort of students that they can engage with sustainability, whether it be through engineering, policy, social dynamics, education, and much more. If you’re a data geek and want to break into the sustainability world, odds are that you’re closer than you think!

Take Action! Apply to the Summer Sustainability Research Fellowship program! Applications typically open in January, so be sure to follow the UK Office of Undergraduate Research on social media for application announcements.

Sophie Beavin

Sophie is a Graduate Assistant for the Office of Sustainability. She is currently pursuing her Master of Public Administration with an emphasis on environmental and sustainability policy.

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