The University of Massachusetts Amherst

iCons Team Receives Undergraduate Sustainability Research Award


On April 22, the UMass Amherst Libraries announced the recipients of the 2020 Undergraduate Sustainability Research Awards. The award, funded by the UMass Amherst Libraries’ Sustainability Fund, recognizes students for their outstanding work in fields pertaining to environmental sustainability and innovation, promoting deeper understanding of these topics as well as insight into the strategies and resources available to conduct this research.

The first-place award was given to senior Linda Black for her white paper, “FOOD/NOW: On Climate Mitigation, Sustainable Farming, and Food Security in Massachusetts.” One second-place prize was awarded to a group of three seniors, Margaret Dreishpoon, Levente Haber, and Waverly Lau, for their collaborative paper, “Reusable To-Go Containers at UMass Amherst," and another to senior James Mazarakis for his paper, “Bringing Life to a Hospital Site: 19 Years of Proposals for the Abandoned Malden Hospital Site in Malden, Massachusetts.” An honorable mention was given to junior Amanda Anderson for her paper, “New Shipment Just In! The Earthship.”

Margaret Dreishpoon is a microbiology major and member of the Commonwealth Honors College, and her collaborators, Levente Haber and Waverly Lau, are environmental science majors. All three students will graduate with an Honors minor in renewable energy based on their participation in the Integrated Concentration in Science (iCons) program. 

The iCons program is a competitive 20-credit program that supplements students’ primary majors, providing them with an avenue to address critical challenges (pertaining to the field of either renewable energy or biomedicine and biosystems) by working in interdisciplinary teams. “We were inspired to conduct this project from our iCons class, which challenged us to research a way to make an impact on campus sustainability and help UMass to reach its net carbon-neutral goals,” says Dreishpoon, noting that she and her group members have been working on this project for the last two years.

“Through this course,” Dreishpoon explained, “we were given the opportunity and support to investigate the impact and feasibility of our idea. We were also encouraged to continue our work on this project by applying to funding opportunities.” She added, “Our team is so grateful to the Sustainability Innovation and Engagement Fund and the Undergraduate Sustainability Award for the motivation and support to continue to pursue the reusable to-go container project.”

The full press release from the Office of News & Media Relations can be found here, and descriptions of the recipients’ projects can be found on the Libraries’ YouTube channel in a series of short videos. Publications that received an award will be made available in the Sustainability Student Showcase on Scholarworks, the online repository of research and scholarly material contributed by members of the UMass Amherst community.