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For Release: Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Pollution Prevention Institute Announces Winners of Student and Poster Competitions

NYSP2I recognizes top graduate, undergraduate and K-12 environmental ideas at RPI event

The New York State Pollution Prevention Institute (NYSP2I) at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) today announced the winners of its annual Research & Development student competition and K-12 student poster competition, which provides students across the state the opportunity to promote ideas to create more sustainable schools and communities.

Open to colleges and universities throughout the state, the fourth-annual student competition, held on Earth Day, recognized both graduate and undergraduate level sustainability projects.
Teams from the State University of New York at Buffalo, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Syracuse University earned top honors at the graduate level, while the State University of New York College at Brockport, Siena College and St. Lawrence University finished in the top three schools among undergraduates.

Earning the top three graduate-level positions:

  • The State University of New York at Buffalo captured first place for retrieving precious metal from waste effluent at Precious Plate Inc. in Niagara Falls, N.Y.
  • RPI placed second for a manufacturing process of mycelium-bound biocomposite sandwich structures.
  • Third place was awarded to Syracuse for using computational fluid dynamics to efficiently reduce thermal stratification at small and medium-scale industrial facilities.

Representing the top three undergraduate winners:

  • The team from the State University of New York College at Brockport took first place for its "Eagle Diesel Goal for Sustainability Project."
  • Siena College finished second for a pilot composting project of food waste from the Roots Café Student Local Food Initiative.
  • St. Lawrence University placed third for "Restructure Meals on the Run."

The K-12 student poster competition winners included:

  • K-fourth grades: Vedita Sawhney from Forest Elementary in Buffalo, N.Y.
  • Fifth-eighth grades: Gabriella Bhiro from Pelham Middle School in Pelham, N.Y.
  • Ninth-12th grades: Heather Pankrath, Melissa Lagares, Jeseneia Serrano and Andrea Bassett from Greece Arcadia High School in Rochester, N.Y.

"Every year we become more impressed by the innovative ideas that both the graduate and undergraduate teams discover to help make their campuses and local communities more sustainable and environmental friendly," said Anahita Williamson, director of NYSP2I. "And in just its second year, our K-12 student poster competition featured new and creative visions for sustainability from students all across New York state."

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joseph Martens delivered welcoming remarks at the event.

"Today's event highlights the work that NYSP2I is doing to showcase the work of tomorrow's leaders, scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs," said Joseph Martens, Commissioner of NYS Department of Environmental Conservation. "These students will face the challenges of industrial sustainability, competitive markets, resource conservation, and financial bottom lines. Meeting these challenges will mark a brighter future for the Earth Days of tomorrow."

As part of its Research and Development Program, NYSP2I challenged teams of full-time students enrolled at any institute of higher education in New York state to identify a specific activity at their university or in their community with a large environmental footprint. Teams were then required to design innovative solutions to reduce its impact, competing under the theme "Greenovate NYS" by undergraduate or graduate level.

This year's competition marked the first time in four years that the event was held on RPI's campus inside the Center for Biotechnology & Interdisciplinary Studies (CBIS) at Rensselaer.

"CBIS at Rensselaer is dedicated to conducting entrepreneurial, sustainable, socially responsible scientific discovery and technological innovation and it's a pleasure to partner with other schools and state agencies to promote and encourage research leaders of tomorrow to pursue these goals," said Deepak Vashishth, director of CBIS at Rensselaer. "A number of our faculty are involved in applying biotechnology and interdisciplinary approaches to develop environmentally sustainable approaches to industrial applications through effective public- private partnership."

In all, 12 student teams from eight schools-the State University of New York College at Brockport, Clarkson University, RIT, RPI, Siena College, Syracuse University, St. Lawrence University, and the State University of New York at Buffalo-displayed their projects and competed for prizes at the Earth Day competition.

The teams received up to $1,000 for project materials when their project proposals were accepted to the student competition last fall. Student teams exhibited their projects and gave oral presentations to a panel of judges inside the CBIS. The free event was open to the public.

In addition to the top three schools receiving trophies, each first-place team received $1,500 to share among team members; the second-place school received $750; and third place $250. The prize money was made possible through donations by sponsors, including Baldwin Richardson Foods, New Pig Corporation, Golisano Institute for Sustainability (RIT), Markin Tubing, NOCO Energy Corporation, Counterparts Chemistry Consulting, International Paper, Risch, Rochester Midland Corporation and Full Circle Feed. Additional funding for the competition was provided by the New York state DEC. Wegmans provided prizes for the K-12 student poster competition.

About the New York State Pollution Prevention Institute

The New York State Pollution Prevention Institute is a partnership between the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Rochester Institute of Technology and the university's Golisano Institute for Sustainability, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the State University of New York at Buffalo and Clarkson University, with a statewide reach. NYSP2I also works with the state's 10 Regional Technology Development Centers to help disseminate data and strategy.

NYSP2I's goal is to make the state more sustainable for workers, the public, the environment and the economy through pollution prevention. Pollution prevention is reducing or eliminating waste at the source by modifying production processes, promoting the use of non-toxic or less-toxic substances, implementing conservation techniques, and reusing materials rather than putting them into the waste stream.

Go to to learn more about NYSP2I.


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