Saving the planet one research program at a time


Alicia Dougherty, Editor

Climate change has become one of the most challenging problems of our time and is one that many scientists around the world have been working to prevent further damage to our planet. Now the University of Wisconsin – Whitewater Undergraduate Research program in partnership with the Facilities Planning and Management (FP&M) Sustainability Office has created the Fund for Research on Environmental Stewardship, Economic Opportunity, and Social Equity. This fund will support students who have an interest in the research of  theoretical and practical solutions for environmental sustainability. The memorandum between both parties officially started September 2, 2021 and ends Jun 30, 2021 unless the two parties choose to continue the agreement. 

Wes Enterline, Sustainability Director for the FP&M reached out to Dr. Nawash, Director of the Undergraduate studies for the partnership. “The Sustainability Office formed three task forces that respond to the Chancellor’s climate commitment which is ran by the Second Nature Climate Commitment,” said Enterline. “One of the tax forces we have is the academic engagement tax force [and] their goal is to try to find ways to incorporate sustainability and climate change issues into the curriculum and research. This [program] was one of the concepts they came up with for establishing a theme for sustainability and research.”

Before this agreement, the UW-Whitewater had no incentive that was focused around sustainability. There were students in the past that had studied it independently, but the partnership now provides students with additional funding to research sustainability in multiple areas of study from environmental science to business. 

“I was very happily surprised,” said Dr. Nawash, Director of Undergraduate Research. “I’m very passionate about the environment. I care about what the environment is going through. We have short budgets for our undergraduate research programs, so we didn’t have enough resources to help students, so for us it was like killing two birds with one stone. We are helping the environment and helping students.”

The goal of the funding ultimately is to utilize the campus as what Wes Enterline calls a “living laboratory,” meaning setting up sustainability projects on campus, study results, and obtain tangible benefits for sustainability outcomes in the process of improving Whitewater’s sustainability performance. “Usually when we collaborate with another department it takes months to go through the process, but this has taken less than a month,” said Dr. Nawash. “I called Eric Compas who got me in contact with Wes. Me and Wes emailed back and forth a few times and now it is on our website. This shows you how passionate we are, how much we care, how much we want our students to be involved in something like this.” 

Dr. Jalal Nawash