Sustainability Blog

Prairie Restoration and Bee Campus USA Internship, Summer 2017

The Office of Sustainability obtained a small grant to restore a prairie area on the west side of campus.  This internship supports this project and the Bee Campus USA initiative currently underway.

Responsibilities Include:

  • Complete installation of prairie plants as needed
  • Watering and general maintenance of prairie restoration site
  • Develop content for Bee Campus USA website
  • Help coordinate and/or promote events(s) related to building and/or installing native bee houses around campus
  • Potentially researching Service-Learning projects


Preferred Skills

  • Interest in native plants and native pollinators
  • Interest in green infrastructure and natural systems restoration
  • Good research skills
  • Ability to work independently
  • Some knowledge of plants a plus

This position will be a member of the Sustainability Intern Cohort. The Sustainability Internship Program (SIP) is an initiative through the Office of Sustainability that offers hands-on learning experiences that help achieve the UIC Climate Commitments and sustainability within our core functions of teaching, research, and community service. The program consists of weekly seminars and field outings on a range of educational and skill building topics including: environmental and energy sustainability issues, cultural sustainability issues, institutional challenges and change management, campus structure and administration, campus sustainability programs and job readiness. The SIP requirements include: meeting weekly work plan goals, frequent meetings with project supervisor, attendance at weekly seminars and outings, blog posts and a final poster presentation.

This paid position requires 15 hrs/week during the summer term including time in the seminar. Students could receive internship credit hours (student must confirm with their academic advisor).

Undergraduates from all disciplines are encouraged to participate.

Step it Up!


Energy Saving Tips, from Your UIC Smart Grid Interns

Najah AhsanHi, we are the UIC Smart Grid interns and we researched ways to help find you tips and tricks to conserve energy at home while increasing your wallet size! Most of the tips that we liked are from the National Wildlife’s Federation‘s website, but we sprinkled in a few tips of our own.

What Can You Do To Save Energy?

Green Lighting Tips:

  • Turn off the lights that you are not using.
  • Buy compact fluorescent bulbs, which reduce energy use by up to 75 percent. Set a goal of at least replacing the bulbs that are most commonly on in your home.
  • If your older children live with you, put them in charge of the electricity bill. They’ll make sure all the lights are turned off if they are responsible to for paying for the electricity.
  • Do not place lamps near a thermostat. The thermostat senses the heat produced from the lamp which can change how often your furnace or air conditioner will run.
  • Consider safer, more efficient Energy Star torchiere lamps over popular halogen torchiere lamps. The halogen lamps can cause fires, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. While relatively inexpensive to purchase, halogen lamps are expensive to operate.
  • Use dimmers, timers and motion detectors on indoor and outdoor lighting.  


Heating and Cooling Your Home:

  • Change or clean your furnace and air conditioner filters regularly to keep heating and cooling systems running efficiently.
  • Dust can restrict airflow and stress the system. Filters can be washable or disposable. Measure the existing filter to make sure to buy a filter that fits properly. It is best to keep several filters on hand as replacements during the cooling season.
  • Instead of disposing of a dirty furnace or air conditioner filter, you could vacuum it once per month and spray it with Endust or a similar product which restores the dust-catching ability of the filters. You can reuse the filter two or three times this way.
  • Install a programmable thermostat to regulate your heating and cooling when you are not home.
  • Test windows and doors to see if they need new weather-stripping by lighting a candle and moving it around the perimeter of the window or door. If the flame flickers, you need to install new weather-stripping. Don’t put the candle near curtains or blinds though.
  • Get your furnace and air conditioner inspected every few years.
  • Install window film for windows that you don’t open often, or that seem drafty.
  • Plant deciduous trees outside windows on the south side of your house to provide shade in summer and allow sunlight in winter.
  • If you live in a house or apartment with water-heated radiators, put foil-faced insulation board between the radiators and the outside walls, with the foil side facing the room.
  • Avoid water beds which use a lot of energy to heat in the winter. If you have a water bed, insulate around it and cover it with many blankets to keep the heat in.
  • Install ceiling fans to improve the efficiency of your heating and cooling systems.
  • Add attic insulation to increase the efficiency of both your furnace and air conditioner. A good standard is to reach “R30,” which a contractor should understand.
  • Make sure draperies, furniture or rugs do not block vents. These vents should also be cleaned regularly with a vacuum or a broom.



  • Set your water heater to a lower setting or call a service person to adjust it for you.
  • Put an appropriate insulation blanket around your water heater.
  • Run your dishwasher without the “drying cycle” and just let dishes drip dry.
  • Do full loads when you use clothes washers and dishwashers.
  • To reduce the amount of dishes to wash, label the bottom of cups and mugs with family member’s names.
  • Reduce the amount of towels to wash by labeling towels or hooks.
  • Choose cold or warm cycles over hot cycles because heating the water for laundry consumes 90 percent of the energy of the laundry process.



  • Hang your clothes to dry either on a clothesline or a clothes tree, at least some of the time. In the winter, this is a natural humidifier in a dry room.
  • Reduce ironing time by taking clothes out when they are slightly damp and hanging them up, or right away when the clothes are dry. If you get to the dryer too late, you can put a damp towel inside and run the dryer for a few minutes to get the same effect.
  • Empty the lint trap after each use of the dryer.
  • Dry light and heavy clothing separately for maximum efficiency.
  • To make room for drying clothes, buy an expandable shower curtain rod and put it in the shower. Hang clothes on hangers.
  • Install a dryer vent hood where your dryer discharges to the outside to reduce the amount of heat escaping from this hole.



  • Buy rechargeable batteries and a recharger.
  • Only purchase toys that don’t require batteries.


Refrigerators and Freezers:

  • Keep condenser coils clean on the back of your refrigerator. Gently wipe and vacuum them once a year. Many fridges have a removable panel around the coils. Keep the back of the fridge at least four inches from the wall.
  • Make sure the fridge door gasket seals tight. Test it by putting a piece of paper in a closed door. Pull on the paper and if it comes out too easily, you need to replace your gasket. Test at several places along the door. Another way to test: put a flashlight in your fridge and see if the light leaks out when you close the door.
  • Check the temperature of your fridge and freezer by putting a thermometer in a glass of water. Put the glass of water in the center shelf in the center of the fridge. It should read 38-40 degrees Fahrenheit. The freezer should read 0-5 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • If you have a large freezer, keep it in the basement or as cool a room as possible.
  • The fuller the freezer, the more energy efficient it is.
  • Let hot food cool down a bit before you put it in the fridge.
  • Install your fridge away from direct sun or your range top or oven.
  • Try not to use a second refrigerator.
  • Make sure your fridge is absolutely level to ensure the door gets closed every time you open it.



  • Use a microwave rather than an oven, range or toaster oven whenever possible.
  • Choose small appliances over big ones, such as a toaster oven, electric teapot, rice cooker, electric frypan or a crockpot.
  • Cover pans when cooking to keep heat in.
  • Turn off the burner or oven before the food is completely cooked.
  • Use a pressure cooker whenever possible.
  • Make more food than you need for one meal and then heat the leftovers in a microwave.
  • Bake with glass or ceramic pans which allow you to set the temperature in the oven by 25 degrees Fahrenheit lower than the recipe calls for.
  • Thaw food on metal such as in a stainless steel pan.
  • Keep the grease plates under your range burners clean to ensure the most heat is being reflected up.
  • Use the appropriate size burner on the range – small for small pots, large for large pots.
  • Don’t worry so much about preheating for most recipes, except fragile pastries or cakes.


Large Purchasing Decisions:

  • Contact your utility company to see if they have a “check meter” which you plug into an appliance and get the exact voltage. This will help you decide whether it is worthwhile to replace an appliance.
  • When shopping for home appliances and electronics, look for the “Energy Star” label. For more information, go to
  • Choose an energy-efficient front-loading washing machine.
  • If buying a new dryer, find one with a moisture sensor that turns off when the clothes are dry.
  • Avoid automatic ice makers which use substantial energy.
  • Side-by-side refrigerator freezers use more energy than a typical model.
  • When buying a new stove, the induction cook tops are the most energy-efficient. These look like a ceramic cooking surface, like a countertop.
  • If available, buy “green power” that comes from non-polluting sources of electricity such as solar cells and windmills. For more information on green power availability, visit
  • Replace very old windows with more energy-efficient ones.
  • Choose a natural gas furnace over an oil furnace, which produces more CO2.
  • Since dark colors absorb heat, choose a light-color roof shingle if you have a choice.
  • You can apply a reflective coating to your existing roof. Two standard roofing coatings are available at your local home improvement store. They have both waterproofing and reflective properties and are marketed primarily for mobile homes and recreational vehicles. One coating is white latex that you can apply over many common roofing materials, such as asphalt and fiberglass shingles, tar paper, and metal. Most manufacturers offer a five-year warranty.


Winter Tips:

  • Put on an air conditioner cover during the winter to reduce drafts.
  • Wear slippers and light sweaters so you can lower the temperature a few degrees.
  • Cover your legs and/or torso with a lap quilt or blanket when sitting still at home.


Summer Tips:

  • Set the air-conditioner thermostat at 78 degrees or higher for the most energy-efficient operation.
  • Install shaded window film to block extra sunlight and reduce air conditioning costs. Some states have tax incentives for you to do this. Some films are permanent so you might not install them if you want to get sun in your home during the winter.
  • Use your microwave or outdoor grill instead of a range or oven to reduce the amount of heat you produce indoors.
  • Use fans to move the air inside your home. This gives the sensation that it is 5 degrees cooler than the actual temperature.
  • Shade windows on the sunny side of your home. Keep drapes closed or add room-darkening shades to block out the heat from the sun.
  • Keep the outside portion of a central air conditioner clear from dried mud, debris and grass clippings. Check after an intense rain. Mud can splatter onto the unit and block the air after it dries.
  • Plant trees or shrubs to shade air-conditioning units but do not block the airflow. A unit operating in the shade uses less electricity than the same one operating in the sun.
  • On hot summer days, avoid opening doors and windows in your home during the afternoon. This allows cool air to escape and hot air to enter the home. Choose activities that are either indoors or outdoors and restrict activities that require many door openings to the mornings.
  • Shift energy-intensive tasks such as laundry and dishwashing to off-peak energy-demand hours to increase electricity reliability during heat waves.
  • Save jobs that produce moisture – such as mopping, laundry and dishwashing – for early morning or nighttime hours. The humidity from these activities can make homes uncomfortable.
  • Make sure the attic is properly ventilated to relieve excess summer heat.
  • Install a radiant barrier on the underside of your roof to reflect heat. A radiant barrier is simply a sheet of aluminum foil with a paper backing.  



  • Turn off or even unplug your televisions when not in use. Televisions draw power constantly for the instant-on functionality.
  • Compost kitchen wastes rather than use your garbage disposal.
  • Recycle aluminum cans, glass bottles, plastic, cardboard and newspapers. Using recycled materials in manufacturing consumes less energy than using virgin materials.

Former SIP interns talk about their experience


35 former SIP interns talk about their role as a sustainability intern and what it meant to them. Their favorite part of the SIP program? Learning something new, the hands on experience, a look at the behind-the-scenes operations of the campus, the field trips, dumpster diving, experts presenting at the seminar, working with professionals, the mentors, meeting the other interns, and so much more!

Sustainability Internship Program

Student Name: Brian Tomkins

Major: Urban Planning and Public Affairs

Graduation Year: Senior

Internship Project: Bike Planning

Why are you interested in sustainability? I wanted to learn what keeps the world moving forward. When thinking about progress, the term “sustainability” comes to mind. However, the word sustainability has no true definition. Scholars around the world are in a constant debate on what sustainability means. To me, Sustainability is something that should be practiced by all people to keep the world moving forward. At the Office of Sustainability, I have been fortunate enough to learn different practices to keep the world moving forward.

What are some of your internship responsibilities? I have been responsible for proposing new bike lanes and bike racks on campus. I have conducted numerous field studies on campus and conducted a literature review to learn the most practical way to propose new bike lanes and bike racks. I have the task of then designing these proposals via different programs which has been challenging, but also rewarding. Also, I am an administrator on the “I BIKE UIC” Facebook page.

What is your favorite part of the SIP program so far? Every day I learn something new. This internship is crosses different academic disciplines and educates me in ways I have never tried before. I couldn’t be happier to be in such an inclusive and productive atmosphere.

Student Name: Kushal Basnet

Major: Bio-Engineering

Graduation Year: Sophomore

Internship Project: Capital Programs

Why are you interested in sustainability? I believe that sustainability is an important topic because it has a huge impact on the welfare of the environment and the society. We must try to achieve the maximum amount of sustainability in all areas in-order to create a better future.

What are some of your internship responsibilities? I am mostly in charge of organizing all the projects files that come in though my office. I also keep track of and create data for on going projects.

What is your favorite part of the SIP program so far? My favorite part of the SIP program so far is being able to share my thoughts and seeing how they are related to other peoples thoughts in the seminars.

Name: Oleksandr Gorobets

Major: Mechanical Engineering

Year: 2020

Internship Project: Sustainability in the Office for Capital Programs

Why are you interested in sustainability? It is important for our future if we plan on functioning as a society by the end of this century. It is in my best interest to get involved, and develop experience related to sustainability before I enter the industry.

What are your internship responsibilities?

  • Quality control in regards to the HVAC upgrades the university is receiving (inspecting equipment, temperatures, installations)
  • Helping with the scheduling, and the awareness of several side projects run by my supervisors.
  • Working with another employee to keep the number of pissed students and faculty affected by OCP projects to a minimum.

What is your favorite part of the SIP program so far? Hands on experience working with HVAC systems and engineers.

Student Name: Ayesha Riaz

Major: Architecture

Graduation Year: 2016

Internship Project: Energy Initiative Media Intern

Why are you interested in sustainability? I am interested in Sustainability because it is something that does not exist in isolation, and that it is interdisciplinary. I’m interested in it because it demands more than one perspective and there isn’t a single field that can claim to be exempt from being a part of the solution because literally everything is affected by it.

What are some of your internship responsibilities? My internship responsibilities include collecting information and updating the Energy Initiative website, as well as maintaining the Energy Initiative blog and newsletter. I am currently conducting interviews to combine into a promotional video highlighting their annual Summer Institute on Sustainability and Energy (SISE).

What is your favorite part of the SIP program so far? My favorite part of the SIP program so far is the amount of exposure I have gotten to energy-related issues around UIC. It’s incredibly interesting to learn the logistics behind what actually powers the whole campus. Same with learning about where our recycled material goes and how complex the systems actually are.

Student Name: Allan Tucker

Major: Chemical Engineering

Graduation Year: 2016

Internship Project: Zero Waste

Why are you interested in sustainability? The many years of human influence on the Earth has negatively affected its ability to support life. It is necessary to protect our environment for ourselves and future generations.

What are some of your internship responsibilities?

• Identify major cardboard streams from UIC buildings and operations/units
• Observe dock activities- i.e. truck traffic and drop offs to compactors at selected loading docks
• Make suggestions on how to reduce to zero the amount of cardboard in the trash stream, and also how to reduce contamination of collected cardboard

What is your favorite part of the SIP program so far? Meeting other interns and doing waste audits where I was able to go dumpster diving.

See Allan’s presentation to the IEPA about cardboard waste reduction here!

Student Name: Perla Jiménez

Major: Mechanical Engineering

Graduation Year: 2017

Internship Project: Technical Support with Facilities Management

Why are you interested in sustainability? Sustainability is necessary in all professional fields and all aspects of society in general. Going into mechanical engineering, I want to make sure I know what challenges, issues, resources, goals, and solutions already exist concerning sustainability.

What are some of your internship responsibilities? At my internship, I take on varying responsibilities. There are several architects and engineers in the office, and I assist them in any way I can. I’ve done miscellaneous paperwork, accompanied them to client meetings and site visits, worked on AutoCAD drawings, and performed heat and energy calculations, among other tasks.

What is your favorite part of the SIP program so far? I love having the opportunity to see the specific responsibilities that engineers have on a day to day basis. I feel that I have a better understanding of at least one possible field I could go into. If I had to pick a single event, I would say the trip to the recycling plants has been my favorite. I am very interested in the life cycle of consumer goods. Especially after the second plant, I feel that I have a solid understanding of the work and criteria involved in recycling various materials. I am interested in the design and development of products in such a way that reusing or recycling is the intention. I believe that goods can be designed so that extracting and re-purposing the materials is a simpler, less energy consuming process.

Student Name: Aracely A. Lara

Major: Mechanical Engineering

Graduation Year:

Internship Project: Food Recovery

Why are you interested in sustainability? Sustainability allows me to be creative and opens the doors to incorporating engineering concepts to shaping the actions that have an impact in our environment. Preserving and maintaining the essence and beauty of our earth is something that strikes an inner passion for justice in being part of that change.

What are some of your internship responsibilities?

1. Reduce Food waste in all UIC- Dining Halls to help feed people.

2. Re-purpose food through composting

3. Initiating a new Food Recovery Network Chapter on-campus

4. Outreach to partnering agencies to donate food

5. Coordinate and design signage/flyers for volunteer recruitmentnate marketing tactics to spread food waste management awareness throughout campus

What is your favorite part of the SIP program so far?

1. Having full lead in my project with lots of room to incorporate my ideas and turn them into action.

2. Having a great opportunity to start a new chapter on campus that will have a positive impact on our environment.

Student Name: Rawan Alkhateeb

Major: Neuroscience

Graduation Year: 2018

Internship Project: Ultra Low Temperature Freezers

Why are you interested in sustainability? Sustainability is the one thing that will never harm the environment but will actually help humans make the world a better place to live. Sustainability will help our earth not only in the short run but most importantly in the long run.

What are some of your internship responsibilities? My internship responsibilities was to educate and help change energy usage at UIC slowly to the better. I helped spread awareness to the research facilities and lab principal investigators by going around to more than 80 labs and talking to them about the importance of taking care of their ULT freezers and how much energy they can save by doing small tasks such as dusting out their freezer filters and keeping the freezer clean.

What is your favorite part of the SIP program so far? My favorite part of the SIP program was the Wednesday seminars and the educational trips we took around UIC. It was a great way to teach us about different parts of sustainability and it kept me excited for more!

Student Name: Mandy Kaewken

Major: Earth and Environmental Sciences

Graduation Year: 2015

Internship Project: Green Laundry Intern

Why are you interested in sustainability? It’s hard for me to pick an aspect of sustainability that I am interested in because sustainability has so many intriguing components. I would say that the idea of living our lives without jeopardizing the future of the planet is probably the most fascinating thing about sustainability to me.

What are some of your internship responsibilities? I work with Campus Housing to implement a rental program where residents can rent drying racks out for a semester. It encourages air drying when doing laundry which reduces electricity consumption. I have to do research on the type of washers and dryers that are offered to our residents to find out how much electricity they use. I have to research and get quotes on drying racks to see which type of racks is the most feasible financially. I also have to come up with a promotional campaign for the drying rack rental program.

What is your favorite part of the SIP program so far? I like the opportunity to implement a program that would make UIC even more of a sustainable campus. I also really enjoy the presenters at our weekly seminar because they give me new perspectives on sustainability and it makes me feel that what I am doing in the SIP program is significant.

 Student Name: Emma LockmillerMajor: Communication

Graduation Year: 2015

Internship Project: Green Event Intern

Why are you interested in sustainability? I came into this internship not knowing much at all about sustainability. I am an individual who enjoys learning, so I was excited and nervous at the same time to jump into a project in a field that I wasn’t familiar with. Through the seminars and my internship project, I have retained a larger interest in sustainability.

What are some of your internship responsibilities? As a Green Event Intern, the main purpose of my internship is to create Green Guides for the University. There are many different guides that cater to student organizations, UIC departments, the student centers, and the UIC Forum. These guides list tips on how to put on a sustainable event at UIC through different categories.

What is your favorite part of the SIP program so far? I like learning from my mentor/boss Shelby Egan. She knows a lot about sustainability, how to be a professional, and how to work hard. It’s been great to see and learn how someone in this industry conducts their work. Shelby is also great at explaining things to me about sustainability that I didn’t know before.

Student Name: Raymond Truong

Major: Chemical Engineering

Graduation Year: Sophmore

Internship Project: Greenhouse Gas Inventory

Why are you interested in sustainability? I’m interested in sustainability because I want to help create a better balance between the demands of society and the resources around us. I’m interested in the impact of greenhouse gases on the Earth’s atmosphere and environment.

What are some of your internship responsibilities? Some of my internship responsibilities are recording the amount of electricity produced by the solar panels on top of DH and LH. I’m also responsible for recording the total electricity, high temperature water, and chilled water used in buildings on west and east side. Lastly, I’m currently responsible for doing a complete green house gas inventory for the UIC Rockford campus.

What is your favorite part of the SIP program so far? My favorite part of the SIP program so far is learning about UIC’s carbon footprint, and what things we’re doing to reduce some of our carbon emissions. I also like the weekly seminars a lot!

 Student Name: Jose J. Bahena Jr.Major: Electrical Engineering

Graduation Year: 2017

Internship Project: Housing Move-Out

Why are you interested in sustainability? My interest in sustainability involves taking responsibility in what happens to our environment. I believe that because we take resources from our environment that it is important we recycle and waste less of those resources for our planet does so much to help our growing population. Pollution varies from different outcomes such as: the burning of fossil fuels in creating greenhouse gasses and causing global warming and air pollution, water pollution by dumping waste and harmful chemicals that could poison us and species that live in that environment, and landfill waste that could deteriorate the land when similar waste is distributed as in water pollution. So not only recycle and waste less, but also search for other reliable power sources that won’t harm the environment. In this case, we need to do our part in keeping our environment, and planet, to be sustainable.

What are some of your internship responsibilities? My internship responsibilities involve obtaining qualitative data regarding move out waste issues and behavior, identify ways to reduce move-out/move-in waste and where materials will go after diversion, survey methods for housing waste collection in use by peer institutions, work with UIC Housing and Sustainability staff and others to adapt to UIC processes, and suggest initial goals for waste diversion.

What is your favorite part of the SIP program so far? My favorite part of the SIP program so far is designing possible recycling posters to help pay more attention to recycling and reduce waste with useful facts about recycling and UIC’s progress in recycling.

Name: Jackie Scesniak

Major: Civil Engineering

Year: 2018

Internship Project: Recycling Assistant

Why are you interested in sustainability? I am interested in sustainability because I truly do care for the environment. Through my major, Civil Engineering, I would like to take on the aspect of Environmental Engineering. This type of engineering focuses more on the water management and sustainable views of Civil Engineering. Therefore, I would like to deal with sustainability in my career.

What are your internship responsibilities? Some of my responsibilities are going on walk-throughs of different buildings, collecting the weekly trip sheets and putting that information into the shared drive, inputing food scraps data into the Re-Trac website, and giving access for the Free Store.

What is your favorite part of the SIP program so far? My favorite part of the SIP program so far are the seminars because I have learned so many different things by just attending a two hour seminar once a week.

Student Name: Diana Bernatek

Major: Chemical Engineering

Graduation Year: 2017

Internship Project: UIC Hospital Recycling

Why are you interested in sustainability? I think it’s important to help the UIC community to leave a smaller carbon footprint in the Chicagoland area because it helps us save some money, provides a great example for other schools, and overall makes the lives of UIC workers and students much more efficient and easy.

What are some of your internship responsibilities? Overall, the outtake of this internship should be an overall increase in recycling in the hospital. I’m working with a few people and we’re promoting recycling through brochures, flyers, signage, etc. I also plan on creating a campaign and training so that it becomes a hot topic and people think about their recycling habits more. Joe Iosbaker and I are also working on implementing more bins and totes into the hospital as well.

What is your favorite part of the SIP program so far? I’m constantly learning something new about the UIC community and environmental issues which is great because it lets me know that I will take away a lot from this internship. I’m also learning how to work with professionals and how the “real job world” works. Everyday I’m gaining experience from this internship and it will help me tremendously in the future.

 Name: Wasif AhmadMajor: Nursing

Year: 4

Internship Project: Recycling Rates

Why are you interested in sustainability? I am interested because performing acts of sustainability that preserves our natural resources and that decreases fossil fuel emission are necessary to ensure us maintaining a good standard of living in the future. We are emitting green house gases and using natural resources at a unsustainable rate and I want to learn how I can contribute to the sustainability cause as much as I can.

What are your internship responsibilities? I analyze and look at recycling data. We currently get reports from our recycling and trash vendors every month. I look at these spreadsheets and analyze trends in the rates. I also look at the recycling rates on a building level. My main goal of the internship is to find what has caused the recent decline in recycling rates and what can be done to alleviate this decline.

What is your favorite part of the SIP program so far? My favorite part is working in an intellectually stimulating environment. The internship provides a great opportunity to learn by providing such opportunities like the weekly seminars. I also enjoy the environment and meeting the other interns/workers.

 Name: Alec PiironenMajor: Earth and Environmental Sciences

Year: Senior

Internship Project: Recycling

Why are you interested in sustainability? Through my studies I have learned much about the Earth, most importantly our interdependence upon it. Societies worldwide have grown exponentially at Earth’s expense ultimately destroying it, sustainability (sustainable living) is a strong and promising solution. Sustainability allows us to grow and thrive in a healthy balance with our natural environment which many have come aware of. If we want to thrive, Earth must thrive with us and I want to make sure that happens. I want to protect the Earth.

What are your internship responsibilities? Within my internship, I’m responsible for raising awareness of the recycling practices and protocol taking place at UIC as well as a recent project I’ve been focusing on involving the redistribution of spare glassware leftover in abandoned research laboratories in order to reduce waste and expenses for researchers.

What is your favorite part of the SIP program so far? The recycling internship has given me the opportunity to experience a field I’ve been interested in for years. It allows me to work with and meet new individuals such as researchers, experienced recycling professionals, and a diverse group of students allowing us to collaborate. It’s been stimulating, challenging, and a great opportunity overall.

 Student Name: Gianna CarrozzaMajor: Public Health

Graduation Year: 2017

Internship Project: Smart Grid at UIC

Why are you interested in sustainability? Sustainability became an important part of my life in an interesting way. I originally became a vegetarian of health reasons, but when I learned how much I reduced my ecological footprint just from cutting meat out from my diet, it soon became my number one reason for the switch. This led me to become interested in other ways to be sustainable in my life aside from diet. I am also interested in finding an overlap between sustainability and public health for my career.

What are some of your internship responsibilities? As a Smart Grid intern our responsibility is to inform the UIC community about technological updates being done to the electrical grid in Illinois. Information can range from how the grid works, what a smart meter is, the benefits of the meter, or different energy saving plans. A challenge we face in our internship is that many students aren’t paying their electrical bills and they might not care much about being sustainable or efficient. We are constantly coming up with new ideas like games or videos that engage students and show them the importance of learning about smart grid. Not only do we have to focus on students, but we also need to relate to UIC’s staff. It is important for us to make sure we have all of our bases covered and give information that everyone can find useful.

What is your favorite part of the SIP program so far? So far I have really enjoyed the field trips we have taken. When most people throw out/ recycle things they aren’t sure what the next step is and maybe if they did they would care more about their decisions. Being able to see the work being put into sorting trash and being able to see the material recycled for UIC really helped to put some perspective behind the practice.

 Student Name: Min WuMajor: Public Administration

Graduation Year: 2016

Internship Project: Smart Grid at the Chinese American Service League

Why are you interested in sustainability? My parents work for an environmental friendly company and they taught me a lot about sustainable behaviors since I was a child. I am used to recycling and saving as much energy/water as I can.
I love nature: flowers, plants, animals, sky, sea, tress…They all make our world more beautiful and colorful. I want to protect them from being “ruined” by human activities. I also have a dream about green city.( Something like environmental friendly city.)
As I have grown up, I’ve come to know the resources (energy/water/mine…) we have in the world are very limit. However, people still consume a lot every day while also wasting a lot without noticing. It’s urgent for everyone engage in protecting our environment.
If we start to do environmental friendly actions little by little individually, we can make a big change in the future.
I am so thankful that I got the chance to be an sustainable intern in Office of sustainability. I am learning a lot about our environment and I want to keep learning and promoting sustainable ideas to people around the campus, the community, and even the world.

What are some of your internship responsibilities?

  • Help to educate and prepare workshops about Smart Grid in Chinese to the Chinese community in the Chinese American Service league (CASL) and answer their question about Smart Grid.
  • Promote sustainable ideas in UIC and get students involved in forming sustainable behaviors.
    Collaborate with CNH and ICA to learn sustainable solution for our community from each other.
  • Educate community in Summer Fair 2015 in Chinatown.
  • Bring what I learned from UIC to Chinese Americans and the UIC community to save more energy, which can make the earth more green and beautiful.
  • Meet with Project Mentor (Ben Lau-Manager, Housing & Financial Education Department-CASL) weekly.
  • Share experiences with SIP cohort.
  • Help promote sustainable ideas among Chinese community.
  • Being part of a team to help CASL promote sustainable ideas to Chinese American communities.

What is your favorite part of the SIP program so far? I like working with other students and professors and sharing ideas about sustainable solutions for UIC.
I enjoy designing and hosting student activities for a greener campus such as bike2campus, Caught Green handed, Eco-Jam etc., which I am very proud of.
” Proud to be UIC, Proud to be sustainable.”

 Student Name: Lee ZimmermanMajor: Computer Science

Graduation Year: 2016

Internship Project: Smart Grid at UIC

Why are you interested in sustainability? It is the only way we can secure a healthy future for mankind. I personally believe it is our moral and spiritual duty to properly care for our earth and the resources we are given.

What are some of your internship responsibilities? I have done many odd jobs for this internship including managing a table to spread the word about smart grid and sustainability, open a social media discussion on the topic of sustainability in business, and interview faculty, staff, and students at UIC about their sustainable practices in their lives. My major job has been getting UIC’s Energy Dashboard displayed on public monitors on East and West campus. This involves scouting around buildings finding the monitors, emailing/calling/talking in person to find out who manages those monitors, and then try to see if it’s possible to display the dashboard to then help spread the word that UIC has an Energy Dashboard that anyone can soon access themselves.

What is your favorite part of the SIP program so far? I would say the tours we go on would be my favorite part of the SIP program. The tours we’ve gone on gives us a more well-rounded view on the communities we have in the Chicago land area and sustainability in action, this also gave us good insight in what we are working for and how important it is.

Student Name: Jose Hernandez

Major: Electrical Engineering

Graduation Year: 2018

Internship Project: Smart Grid at the Center for New Horizons

Why are you interested in sustainability? Sustainability is something that will take priority in coming years in all aspects of life. It is something that will be discussed in all sectors: government, technology, manufacturing, etc. It is something we all need to be interested in not something that we should choose to be interested in.

What are some of your internship responsibilities? Developing PowerPoints and handouts that are culturally relatable to my community (bronzeville), giving presentations and talking to individuals at community events, helping create a sustainable space which is an urban agricultural space located behind the CNH offices.

What is your favorite part of the SIP program so far? Being able to see how sustainability in different areas of the city must be treated and taught differently. It showed me how difficult but doable education on a large scale may be.

 Student Name: Paula DebkowskaMajor: Electrical Engineering

Graduation Year: 2017

Internship Project: Smart Grid at UIC

Why are you interested in sustainability? I am interested in working with alternative energy in the future.

What are some of your internship responsibilities? The main purpose of Smart Gird internship was to educate UIC students, staff and faculty about benefits of smart meters.

What is your favorite part of the SIP program so far? I really enjoyed going to field trips. It was more hands on experience about sustainability.

 Student Name: Stephen TinneyMajor: Industrial Design

Graduation Year: 2015

Internship Project: Social Media

Why are you interested in sustainability? Always have been. It’s in my innermost being. I care about our planet and people. The path humanity is on is not a sustainable one and my inner desire is to create things to help everyone everywhere live in harmony.

What are some of your internship responsibilities? To update the O.S. website and stay current with Twitter and FB postings related to sustainability. Creating graphic design flyers, posters and invites.

What is your favorite part of the SIP program so far?

Field trips, and the people I work with.

 Student Name: David SchulzMajor: Chemical Engineering

Graduation Year: 2018

Internship Project: Stormwater Retention

Why are you interested in sustainability? Sustainability is the way for the future if we still want a healthy earth to live on, so that’s why I am willing to learn about it. I just hope that the majority of society will take sustainability seriously before it’s too late.

What are some of your internship responsibilities? I am currently learning about some civil engineering concepts regarding water. The topics include like how water infiltrates into the soil or what soil is made of.
I sometimes do field measurements where an interferometer is set on the grass (or permeable pavers) and the amount of water drained is measured over a certain period of time.

What is your favorite part of the SIP program so far? The weekly seminars that we have, I find them to be enlightening and fun.

Student Name: Emmanuel Dominguez

Major: Civil & Materials Engineering

Graduation Year: Fourth Year

Internship Project: Stormwater Management

Why are you interested in sustainability? Sustainability as a new science interested me because our actions as humans in this world will shape the present and future generations.I believe that humans and the environment should live productively in harmony. From an engineering perspective, I hope to use everything that I know to help build more sustainable communities.

What are some of your internship responsibilities?

My internship responsibilities include:

1. Collect and analyze land cover data

2. Calculate stormwater runoff around the UIC area using the EPA Stormwater Calculator

3. Analyze data and do some hypothetical modeling for future sites of green infrastructure

What is your favorite part of the SIP program so far? My favorite part of the SIP program so far have been the informative seminars we have every week. It is good to be educated on all aspects of sustainability. The seminars are a good way to learn more about important issues in sustainable development and to directly apply what we learn to our internship.

 Student Name: Nina PellizzariMajor: Earth and Environmental Science

Graduation Year: Junior

Internship Project: The Great Stuff Exchange

Why are you interested in sustainability? I think much can be learned from reducing the amount of “stuff” in our lives:
“I had three pieces of limestone on my desk, but I was terrified to find that they required to be dusted daily, when the furniture of my mind was all undusted still, and threw them out the window in disgust” -Thoreau

What are some of your internship responsibilities?

1. Improving the efficiency of the Great Stuff Exchange program

2. Collecting and managing the storage of used labware and office supplies

3. Creating and managing the GSX website

What is your favorite part of the SIP program so far? I think the SIP program’s educational offerings are terrific; the program’s comparable to an intimate, exemplary LAC education in sustainability.

 Name: Karima PatelMajor: Biology

Year: 2018

Internship Project: Tree Campus USA

Why are you interested in sustainability? I am interested in sustainability because I care about our earth. Environmental issues never get enough attention, and I feel that implementing sustainable ways of living into people’s everyday lives will help bring about a change.

What are some of your internship responsibilities? In my internship, I am responsible for measuring the growth of the trees on UIC’s west campus. I collect that data, and update the main database. I look at the overall trends of growth between native and non-native trees.

What is your favorite thing about the SIP program so far? My favorite part of the program are the weekly seminars, where I am able to learn so much from so many different professionals.

 Name: Neel ThakkarMajor: Biological Sciences

Year: December 2015

Internship Project: Tree Campus USA

Why are you interested in sustainability? Looking around and sensing the global climate change taking over the place ignited my interest in contributing to sustain environment. Gazing through down side of this change gave me inspiration to take a leadership role to educate others.

What are some of your internship responsibilities? Some of my internship responsibilities are to collect data about trees, tree Diameter at Breast Height (DBH) and tree height, using a baltimore stick and 10ft measure tape. Beside, We were working on a research project to educate high school prep student about tree’s value.

What is your favorite thing about the SIP program so far? My favorite part of internship was field work and research project.

Name: Hulliams Kamlem

Major: Public Health

Year: 2014

Internship Project: Tree Campus Care

Why are you interested in sustainability? Sustainability is a multidisciplinary field working toward ensuring the ability of current and future generations to enjoy healthy and safe living conditions. I see it as a noble mission and a way to gain knowledge about the environment.

What are some of your internship responsibilities? My internship responsibilities are:

1. Help maintain Tree Campus USA recognition

2. Update the campus tree inventory, accounting for removal of trees and new plantings

3. Maintain and organize the campus tree inventory in excel (keeping track of tree ID, species type, measuring of girths, location, etc. using GIS equipment)

4. Assist in the mapping of trees using ArcGIS 10.1

5. Assist in the update of the Campus Forestry Plan through data collection, writing, analysis of environmental, public health and financial benefits

6. Gain meaningful experience in sustainability related field work related to urban forests

What is your favorite thing about the SIP program so far? I have learned a lot by participating in the weekly seminar and exchanging with peers and experts on the field of sustainability science. The fieldtrips provided great insight on a range of topics from recycling to energy production. Finally, I really enjoyed the experience of working outdoor on a campus trees inventory.

 Name: Alyssa StraitsMajor: Bioengineering

Year: Sophmore

Internship Project: Tree Campus

Why are you interested in sustainability? I have been working with trees for the past few summers. Since we’ve been actively combating the effects of the Emerald Ash Borer throughout the United States by cutting down millions of trees, I’ve become very interested in sustaining the urban forest throughout the Chicagoland area.

What are some of your internship responsibilities? Taking an inventory of newly planted trees, including trees at the new grove & mile square health center. The inventory process includes taking down the DBH, height & crown spread of each tree while also noting species & assigning each tree a unique ID. After this, we enter all the data into the system, and we will later enter it into a software called I tree to see calculations such as carbon sequestration.

What is your favorite thing about the SIP program so far? My favorite part is getting to learn about my peers’ projects and going on various field trips to learn more ways to be sustainable beyond our own project. I also enjoy the opportunities that I’ve had to teach others the importance of having trees in an urban environment.

 Student Name: Kendra TateMajor: History

Graduation Year: 2015

Internship Project: UIC Children’s Center

Why are you interested in sustainability? I am interested in sustainability because I think it’s very important that people utilize every resource we can to fix the problems of droughts, over excessive garbage, and other issues that basically are harmful to the earth. These problems that are a threat to the earth are not discussed through the mainstream media as they should be which could be a reason as to why many people are ignorant of the issues. It’s important that young people, the next leaders of the future generation, teach and utilize our educational platforms to spread knowledge about the importance of sustainability and the many ways to solve the problems.

What are some of your internship responsibilities? My internship responsibilities included:

-Getting to know the children of the UIC Children’s Center
-Aiding teachers in helping in classrooms at snack time and outside during playtime
-Implementing activities and creating activity plans with materials such as paper, wood, and plastic for the children
-Creating and organizing a reusing station in the UIC Children’s Center storage room
-Working with fellow intern to create a plan and campaign for gaining support from other campus departments for the Funding Factory. This is a fundraiser where a department can send in used ink cartridges to get funds for the school.
-Working with fellow intern for the upkeep of the butterfly garden.

What is your favorite part of the SIP program so far? My favorite part of the SIP program so far was bonding with the children and doing art projects with them. Art is one of the most therapeutic and calming activities, which is why it is highly recommended in schools and hospitals across the nation and world. I thoroughly enjoyed teaching the children how to create art through sustainability. These activities we did not only aided the children in cultivating their creativity skills, but it also taught them the importance of using recyclable items for artwork. I had such a wonderful time working with the children and teaching them even when there were very messy moments! 🙂

 Student Name: Jaden CruzMajor: Earth and Environmental Science

Graduation Year: 2017

Internship Project: UIC Children’s Center

Why are you interested in sustainability? I am interested in sustainability because I believe it is our collective duty to preserve the world around us. I also desire to share knowledge about practices that will allow us to improve our practices while not harming the world around us.

What are some of your internship responsibilities? I educate the children of the Children’s Center about sustainability. My role in the classroom is similar to the full-time co-teachers. I also work out of the classroom to create connections across UIC to help the Center become more sustainable.

What is your favorite part of the SIP program so far? So far, I enjoy working with the children the most. They are fun to work with they are willing to learn!

 Student Name: Matthew BriciuMajor: Electrical Engineering

Graduation Year: 2017

Internship Project: Utilities Department

Why are you interested in sustainability? I want to be able to leave a more sustainable planet for the future generations by learning how to live a more sustainable life myself.

What are some of your internship responsibilities? Labeling and photographing water, gas, electric, and steam meters with their corresponding buildings along the east and west sides of the campus. Creating organized spreadsheets of the data of the meters in order to calculate how much consumption of these resources our buildings use.

What is your favorite part of the SIP program so far? Exploring the campus and learning about all the awesome underground tunnels we have under our feet at UIC.

 Student Name:Andrew PableMajor: Electrical Engineering

Graduation Year: Sophmore

Internship Project: Utilities Dept.

Why are you interested in sustainability? I have an interest in maximizing potential and being as efficient as possible when I design or work on any project, so it just makes sense to work in Sustainability.

What are some of your internship responsibilities? Inspecting utilities equipment, Creating reports explaining utility usage, Data acquisition

What is your favorite part of the SIP program so far? Learning how the campus functions, gets energy, and where that energy is being used.

 Student Name: Demetrios GalanosMajor: Chemical Engineering

Graduation Year: 2018

Internship Project: Water Assessment

Why are you interested in sustainability? I find sustainability interesting because it is a very important field to the future. The sooner problems are faced the easier they are to solve, whether it be issues concerning water, energy, pollution, etc. The current generation should be responsible for leaving the world in better or at the very least the same shape it was in when they received it so future generations also have the chance to enjoy it.

What are some of your internship responsibilities? The main responsibilities of my internship are to collect flow rates from different water appliances throughout campus that are used by high volumes of people. Through this data, UIC should have the chance to save water which is good for sustainability and also save money which is good for the University, so both parties benefit.

What is your favorite part of the SIP program so far? My favorite part of the internship has been moving around campus. I have got to see many parts of campus I am unfamiliar with especially west campus, being that I am not a med student.

 Student Name: Shahwaar KhanMajor: Civil Engineering

Graduation Year: 2017

Internship Project: Water Assessment

Why are you interested in sustainability? I am interested in sustainability because it strives for environmental, social, and economic harmony. By getting involved in these three aspects of life, I am contributing to society and helping it to progress forward to a better state.

What are some of your internship responsibilities? My responsibilities during my internship were to measure and record the flow rates of water from faucets, toilets, and urinals. After collecting the data we (my group and I) were required to enter the data into an excel document so that it can calculate if the appliance is using too much water or not. Furthermore, we needed to aggregate all the collected information so it can be presentable to the board or someone that is interested.

What is your favorite part of the SIP program so far? The field trips were my favorite parts of the SIP program, by far.












UIC won the Illinois Governor’s Sustainability Award for the 5th time!

pictured from left to right: Vytenis Milunas (UIC Facilities Management) Cindy Klein- Banai, Lisa Sanzenbacher, and Kate Yoshida (Office of Sustaianbility)

Pictured from left to right: Vytenis Milunas (UIC Facilities Management) Cindy Klein-Banai, Lisa Sanzenbacher, and Kate Yoshida (UIC Office of Sustaianbility)

UIC was honored yesterday, November 1, by the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center and the Office of the Governor among 24 other companies and organizations at the 2016 Illinois Governor’s Sustaianbility Awards! We are among an elite group of committed leaders reducing environmental impact, contributing to the growth of a more sustainable Illinois economy.

So what made us winners this year? Well, as it says in the award booklet, over the past 2 years, University of Illinois at Chicago has continued to make significant and measurable progress in its sustaianbility initiatives through comprehensive planning and engagement, operational improvements, and experiential student learning. As part of these efforts, UIC developed the Sustainability Strategic Thinking Report: “To Green and Beyond – Excellence through Sustaianbility at UIC“. The report presents recommendations for UIC to apply sustaianbility principles and practices across its educational mission.


Jacob Obal - Food recovery networkThe College of Cycling at UIC joined with the Food Recovery Network to deliver unused food from the UIC Dining Services‘ cafeteria to a homeless shelter. The group makes weekly rides to the Pacific Garden Mission to deliver 30 to 80 pounds of food produced by campus kitchens. One month’s donations help serve over 1,550 meals that would have otherwise been disposed in a landfill!



UIC LEED The University of Illinois College of Medicine‘s new Learning Center is housed in an 83-year-old building. UIC’s Office of Capital Programs and UIC’s Facilities Management has retrofitted learning spaces, auditoriums, classrooms and spaces for small group study in order to increase engagement and retention. The anticipated LEED-Gold project included 70% efficient heat recovery system that saves approximately 16,000 therms of natural gas and 31,000 kWh of electricity (a savings of $8,000) each year!


energy-use-chartOther initiatives include UIC’s Utilities department installation of a new boiler that saves over 565,000 therms of natural gas annually. Water losses due to piping leaks have been repaired and the heat exchanger chemistry has been changed to 316 stainless steel where possible, leading to a savings of 2.5 million gallons of water each and every year. The energy savings performance contract with Ameresco is expected to save 19,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually!


Governor's Sustainability AwardUIC also won the Illinois Governor’s Sustainability Award in 2014, 2011, 2013 (for continuous campus improvements) and in 1995 (when it was called the Illinois Governor’s Pollution Prevention Awards). UIC was also recognized in 2012 and received the highest honor for the Illinois Campus Sustainability Compact award. Click here for more information about previous awards.


Sustaianbility isn’t just about improving our environment. Sustainability is about getting multiple units, departments, and people involved to work towards a common good. So many folks at UIC are to thank for these efforts. THANK YOU, UIC!

UIC Climate Commitments Announcement Party

Campus LEED Certification Internship

For the past few months    have been working for the Office of Sustainability at UIC as a LEED standards intern. The main priority of my position is to work hand-in-hand with the office in achieving LEED certification of the College Of Medicine Building. In wake of the progress in which we have covered most of the certification, we have shifted priority of the project towards public education.

A major factor which hinders our society from moving towards sustainable lifestyle is that many are unaware of the repercussions of their actions, or the benefits that may be brought forth through environmentally conscious design. Something that we take for granted, because it is so readily available through commercial practices, is our energy expenditure. As a University, over 80% of our carbon emissions (whether it be natural gas or electrically based) comes from the energy use of buildings.

A larger part of UIC’s Climate action plan is focused on moving towards net zero emissions. Which if we consider the fact that almost all of our emissions come from the buildings we regularly occupy over the span of this massive campus, then supporting the construction of sustainable systems should be the top priority. It is because of this that education is quite possibly the most important part of my job. Educating the public is the greatest way to gain support from the student as well as surrounding communities, giving us the momentum we need to move forward.

By: Corey HeinleinCorey


Let’s Be Positive and Recycle Our Batteries!


Streamlining recycling at UIC

Never at any point in history has sustainability been so important, and it only becomes more so with every passing day. One of the core components of sustainability not only on our campus but in the world is dealing with waste production. And recycling remains the primary combatant against it. With my internship I am focusing on preventing recyclable waste that is not traditionally recycled from reaching landfills: dead alkaline batteries and dead pens/markers.

Though the generation of both these materials is small compared to other waste streams such as paper, bottles, and cans, the need to recycle them is no less important. It is this idea of our attempt to recycle all recyclable streams of waste that demonstrates our commitment to our Climate Action Plan. The “Dead Supplies Society” Recycling Program allows plastics from the pens and markers and alkaline and other metals from the batteries to be used again in other materials, a fundamental concept in sustainability.

The other side of my internship includes the marketing aspect: spreading of awareness of the ability, and the need, to recycle pens and batteries. This demands the open communication with all those involved with the initiative, from zone managers and the building service workers to the faculty and staff generating waste. The second commitment in the UIC CAP is to become a “Zero Waste Campus,” referring to reaching a landfill diversion rate of 90%. I have learned that any progress toward that can only be achieved through a change, not in university policy, but in the habits and lifestyles of the individual members of the university community.

By: Alan Fortune

Sorry! Please use next bathroom


‘Repurposed’ Sandwich Board Sign

Yes it‘s exactly what it sounds like. We have kept a lot of people from entering the restroom for the last couple of days. The signboard with the words ‘Caution: Interns at work’ has been my buddy for the last two weeks. It has almost toured the whole university campus with me, just resting in my bag and at times getting down when we reach our destination: The Restroom. Placed right outside the door, it did a good job annoying the public. But before you put all the blame on it, let me tell you it has a very appealing look. It could catch anybody’s eyes with its beautiful decoration.

My internship position is Water assessment. I along with a co-intern, assess the water usage in the campus. The water audit of the campus is very essential if you want a sustainable environment. I took this opportunity to help my university become a zero wastage green campus. So our work all began with making a list of restrooms that had faulty faucets or toilets or urinals. By the word faulty I don’t say that they are dysfunctional. Rather, the ones whose measured flow rate of water deviates largely from their listed values are faulty. After we completed our list, we conveyed its significance to the respective building managers, who then gave us permission to access the bathrooms. It didn’t come easy. We had to bug them with emails and phone calls, just to get our tasks done.

How do we audit?  It’s very simple! We carry a plastic bag marked with different volume levels. We put it beneath the faucet and run water for five seconds, and then we compare the results. For urinals and toilets, we calculate the flush running time. Nobody could imagine how I feel when I bend my head down into the toilet to look for the listed value. Though it isn’t a very fun job, I enjoy working with my chatty co-intern and friend, who makes our work very engaging. We cooperate with each other fully and give our best to make this internship a success!

by: Anubandha Anand

UIC Medicinal Plants Garden – The Power of Nature!

The Atkins Medicinal Herb Garden at UIC

The Atkins Medicinal Herb Garden at UIC

As an intern with the dynamic trio of the Office of Sustainability, The College of Pharmacy, and the Field Museum of Natural History, my primary duty in the spring consists of mainly preliminary research and acclimation to the field of botany with hands on activities in the Field Museum herbarium and the medicinal plants garden. In particular, my research focused on anti-diabetic properties of plants. With our large synthetic knowledge in chemistry and medicine today, natural medicine tends to be the underdog. What a lot of us fail to realize however, is that many of our amazing modern drugs and chemicals are based on knowledge gained from studying natural products. Medicine and healthcare are booming industries that factor into global health impacts, which are major drivers of holistic sustainability. By undertaking this research, I am not only learning some advanced biology and basic botany, but also contributing to recognition of ethnobotany and environmental preservation as it pertains to medicinal species. One of the coolest things I get to do in my internship is in fact take part in the handling and identification of plants specimens and explore the integrative research center at the Field Museum. It’s an amazing experience! This internship will make UIC even more sustainable by 1) raising awareness through education and literally making our campus a little greener and 2) sequestering by introducing new promising and at risk plant species of medicinal importance into the College of Pharmacy’s Atkins Garden.

By: Kenneth Booker

Thinking, Planting, Eating Green: Adventures in Dining Services


DIY Wall-mounted Vertical Garden

Interning for Dining Services has been a huge change and challenge for me! Before this I had no experience in any kind of business or professional environment. I’ve had to learn so much that I didn’t expect beyond the job and course description: How to be heard in meetings, how to get the answers I need from flighty email respondents, navigating multiple levels of bureaucracies. I can’t wait for the end result and we’re taking important steps every week.

Vertical gardens are a trendy, innovative, and beautiful solution to so many problems at once. Adding greenery, especially useful greenery like cilantro, mint, and basil, falls directly in line with the UIC Climate Action Plan as well as the guiding principles of UIC’s Dining Services. Plants are a major tool in carbon sequestration and in some cases can improve local air quality! I’ll also be setting up room for future work. There are two more dining halls whose managers are excited about the possibility of adding gardens, and now there is room for starting and implementing an in-house composting system.

Recently, we settled on the final design of the garden: a series of mounted shelving with ordinary planters on top. This allows for interchangeability, increases ease of care, and keeps costs as low as possible.  I can’t wait to share the end result of this work with the rest of the campus !

By: Jessica Parrish