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Michigan State

Funded projects for 2015-16

To support MSU’s commitment to furthering knowledge and improving life around the world through the convention of research, MSU Sustainability’s Be Spartan Green Student Project Fund provides financial support for students looking to use campus as a laboratory to investigate solutions for today’s most pressing and relevant sustainability issues.

Feeding Liquid Whey to Growing Swine

Joseph Lutz, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources

Liquid sweet whey (whey), the liquid remaining after cheese curds are removed during hard cheese manufacturing, presents a complex waste issue as it is traditionally disposed of into municipal waste streams or sold for further processing. On campus, the MSU Dairy Plant disposes of whey through the local sewer system. This project is diverting the whey from the Dairy Plant by feeding it to pigs at the MSU Swine Farm, providing nutritional value to the pigs and reducing the whey that contributes to MSU’s overall waste stream.

RISE Comedic Educational Video Project

Victoria Chapman, Annalisa Rocca, Makenzie Bosworth and Maeve O’Dowd, Residential Initiative on the Study of the Environment

One key aspect of sustainability is helping people understand how everyday small actions can make a positive difference. This project created a short, comedic video featuring Mother Earth as a mascot who showcases the long-term effects of everyday actions like throwing a plastic water bottle in the trash. The video addresses recycling in an accessible and approachable way for students, putting into perspective the broad effects of unsustainable actions and encouraging the Be Spartan Green culture on campus.


Edible Mushroom Team

Melissa Eggleston and Sarah Ruth, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources

Mushroom forming fungi are not only a vital part of terrestrial ecosystems as plant associates, decomposers and food, but are also being used by scientists to solve problems in fields like health, environmental cleanup and pest prevention. However, they are often misunderstood and underutilized by the lay person.

This project is growing mushrooms in the backyard of MSU’s Bailey Hall to be sold at the Brody Square Cafeteria and the MSU Student Organic Farm Stand. Additionally, the mushrooms are being used as an educational platform to introduce students to mycology (the branch of biology focused on the study of fungi) through numerous workshops on growing and cooking with mushrooms and other scientific uses related to fungi. 

Meals for Mealworms

Matthew Huber, Lindsey Mensch and Kirsten West, Residential Initiative on the Study of the Environment

Polystyrene, commonly referred to as "Styrofoam," presents a unique problem once it enters the waste stream: it's not practical to reuse and it's not economically efficient to recycle. The Meals for Mealworms project is using mealworms to degrade polystyrene beyond the industry standard of 20 percent, going beyond conventional solutions which are not sustainable for the future as the material continues to build up on the planet. Located inside Bailey Hall, the mealworms are an educational tool for students interested in creative waste solutions.


Bailey Compost Initiative

Alex Marx, College of Natural Science; Haley Fulco, College of Natural Science; Selena Perez, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources; and Brooke Desposato, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources

As MSU sends an average three million pounds of organic, compostable matter to the landfill every year, addressing organic waste on campus is critical to meeting the university’s waste-diversion goals. The Bailey Compost Initiative developed a largescale vermicomposting program during the winter months in the Bailey GREENhouse and Urban Farm to support the success of their spring composting program. In addition to reducing waste, the project is constantly creating a rich form of soil that is full of vitamins, macronutrients and micronutrients.

Follow their progress on Twitter.

Sparty’s Cabin

Tiffany Pupa, School of Planning, Construction and Design

The tiny house movement is quickly sweeping the world, embodying principles of minimalism and sustainability. Students from MSU’s School of Planning, Design and Construction brought that movement to campus, creating “Sparty’s Cabin,” a tiny house full of Spartan charm and innovation. The project featured wood from the MSU Shadows Collection, a program that recycles campus trees into lasting legacies, along with numerous other environmentally conscious materials. Several MSU departments collaborated to bring Sparty’s Cabin to life, including MSU Recycling, the MSU Surplus Store and MSU Forestry.

Learn more about Sparty’s Cabin.


MSU’s Counter Cuisine Club

Sarah Teppen, Residential College of Arts and Humanities and College of Social Science; Andrew Hsu, College of Social Science; Ethan Boyd, College of Engineering; and John van Schaik, College of Engineering

With a broader mission to address the environmental effects of dominant agriculture, MSU’s Counter Cuisine Club educates students about how to select and cook food that supports both local agriculture and a healthy lifestyle. This project involved a series of cooking workshops throughout the schoolyear, aimed at demonstrating healthy eating techniques and diverse recipes.

Read more about their efforts.

Sustainable Spartans Earth Day Extravaganza at the MSU Rock

Sustainable Spartans, MSU student registered organization

At MSU, many student groups address various aspects of environmental sustainability through their work. Near Earth Day, the Sustainable Spartans host the annual Earth Day Extravaganza at the MSU Rock, where these groups share those environmental efforts with the MSU community to raise awareness about sustainability at MSU and beyond. The event features numerous activities including a trivia wheel, games hosted by each group and a plant giveaway, and is a unique way to engage students who don’t study environmental topics in a conversation about today’s most pressing sustainability issues.

A photo of members of the Sustainable Spartans holding up a banner during their Earth Day event at the rock.

Learn more about the Sustainable Spartans.

2016 Sustainability Survey (ESPP Communications)

Meghan Charters, College of Social Science

Conducted by MSU’s Environmental Science and Policy Program, this project developed several email surveys that invited participants to share their attitudes about principles of sustainability. The findings provided useful information for ESPP and were shared with several organizations, including MSU Sustainability and the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.  

Spartans’ Climate Change Knowledge and Empowerment

Caitlin Kirby, PhD student in the College of Natural Science

Across the world, climate change is affecting a vast number of natural ecosystems and human activities, calling on young professionals to develop unique solutions for our most pressing environmental issues. This project assessed undergraduate students in MSU’s Integrated Studies courses for their understanding of climate change and how their studies work to develop sustainable solutions for mitigating climate impact. The results were used to develop workshops that address common knowledge gaps and provide tools for students to act on climate change.

The American Solar Challenge (MSU Solar Car Team)

Trevor Ploucha and Jesse Ouellette, College of Engineering

As the transportation industry investigates sustainable solutions to the global energy issue, MSU’s Solar Car team is working to develop a clean energy solution right here on campus by designing a vehicle that runs on solar power. In July of 2016, the team will be competing in the American Solar Challenge, a 1,100 mile solar race that spans through several national parks, providing a unique opportunity to share principles of sustainability and clean energy with a non-traditional audience. Through the project, the team was able to make necessary modifications to their vehicle to compete nationally while also showcasing their solar innovation with other universities.

Learn more about the team and their solar car.