Lauren Myers, Nursing
Helped Hurricane Katrina victims.
Ben Thomas, ISAT
Worked on an invention, currently attending graduate school at MIT.
Kristin Lee, Psychology
Interned as a dolphin trainer at the National Aquarium.
David Strickland, Computer Science
Works to make the world more secure.
Aimee Labrecque, Health Sciences
Works as a policy-maker for the U.S. Coast Guard
Jessica Buell, CSD
Worked in Speech-Language-Hearing Applied Laboratory.
Stefanie Bourne, ISAT
Did research for the National Science Foundation and NASA.
Laura Goodwyn, Psychology
Taught classes at school in Ghana
Dana Wiggins, ISAT
Grass Root Coordinator, Chesapeake Bay Foundation - Peace Corps Volunteer
ISAT Offers Opportunities for Undergraduate Research
In a country dominated by mass consumption, it’s easy to lose sight of the importance of conservation. ISAT major Ryan Powanda, however, is seeing perfectly clear, devoting himself to increasing the awareness of this heated issue. Starting college in the fall of 2005, Ryan’s interests were further driven by the existing environmental forces on campus. He says, “When I came to JMU, I think one of the first things I did notice was all the solar panels on the hill when you’re driving up the highway and I thought that was really cool. I’ve always loved all that technical stuff.”
Adding fuel to the fire, Ryan found a major at JMU that satisfied his passion for environmental sustainability. “I did some research on the ISAT program and it looked really innovative and [a] really fun and engaging, new program that I really wanted to be involved with,” he says. As one of the top 35 programs in the United States for undergraduate research, Ryan had the opportunity to test the waters in ongoing projects within the college. “As an honor student, I was given a chance to start undergraduate research. I came into my first day of class and a whole bunch of ISAT faculty were there presenting what they were researching and we got a chance to pick which advisor we wanted and what research project we wanted to do.” Choosing Dr. Chris Bachmann as his advisor, Ryan has worked for the past two years on the “Aquatic Species Program,” which focuses on the use of algae as an alternative source of fuel. Recently awarded the Morris K. Udall Scholarship, Ryan’s future plans appear to align with his past success.
This summer, Ryan will participate in an ISAT internship he received through the Center for Energy and Environmental Sustainability. Working with the Harrisonburg Waste Recovery Facility, Ryan will explore the roles of agricultural and poultry wastes in the production of bio-fuels in the Shenandoah Valley. Through this internship and his undergraduate research project, Ryan hopes to stress the importance of exploring sustainable resources. “Our fossil-based economy is going to have to end relatively soon. So, I think instead of waiting until it does run out and then all the mass hysteria of how are we going to keep this economy running, it’s very important to start investing and researching developments of all these technologies now, to get them in place before it happens,” he says.
Looking for other ways to become active in the environmental movement on campus, Ryan explored the organizations offered by JMU. Taking the reigns from his predecessors, the ISAT major decided to instead form a collective of various clubs at JMU, uniting the Association of Energy Engineers, Environmental Business Club and Earth Club. He says, “We decided let’s go ahead and form a coalition of these groups instead of forming a separate entity and really pull off the talent that we have together.” Since its creation, the Clean Energy Coalition or Green Team, has become a substantial presence on campus. “The purpose of the coalition is down the road securing clean energy purchasing for campus needs…Now we’re focusing mainly on conservation and efficiency. We just got the Green Fund passed through the SGA election ballot at 81% and that’s to provide funds for increased efficiency projects on campus to really maximize the efforts,” says Ryan.
“After we met with [JMU] President Rose, he assured us that he would start doing more things from a top down approach and we’ll continue our bottom up student grassroots approach and we’ll meet somewhere in the middle…Meeting with these top administrators, they’ve been just so nice and so reflective. We have yet to reach any resistance,” he states. For prospective students, they can expect to experience the height of this activism. Ryan boasts, “We are right in the prime of making this movement big.” Therefore, for others hoping to follow in Ryan’s path, the question begs: “Do you go green?”