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About Us
Spring 2024

Faculty

Dr. Eranga Galaphaththi
Lead Professor

"Practicing sustainability must be a collective effort toward common challenges. Such sustainability challenges that we all are part of include climate change, food insecurity, and ocean pollution. As a researcher working with Indigenous Peoples in the Arctic and tropical parts of the world, I have witnessed these issues and am somewhat optimistic about the solutions.   We need a change. The change from unsustainable to sustainable. Why can’t people change? The unsustainable world we created is a product of our unsustainable thinking. Your actions are the children of your thoughts. To practice sustainability, you have to think sustainable. Going beyond conventional teaching approaches, we train our students to think sustainably by engaging in various projects and leadership activities. Co-learning is a critical component to this approach. Sustainability is an integral part of my research. My research is aimed primarily at the social dimensions of human-nature systems. I am particularly interested in climate change adaptation, with a major focus on how Indigenous communities and their local food systems experience and adjust to change".

Dr. Tom Crawford
Geography Dept. Chair and Professor

"Sustainability is one of the 21st century’s grand challenges that requires leaders to develop and implement practices that enable humans to thrive economically and socially over generations while ensuring healthy ecosystems that provide for current and future populations.    At Virginia Tech, students work with faculty in co-learning environments to promote sustainable practices. The course, Practicing Sustainability, is the capstone course in the Pathways to Sustainability minor. It is a platform where students work collaboratively to synthesize and integrate knowledge from their prior sustainability coursework to put into practice the principles and application of sustainability science. They do so via student-designed and student-led applied projects examining specific local and regional sustainability issues on the Virginia Tech campus, in the New River Valley and the Commonwealth of Virginia.    The Department of Geography is proud of the student accomplishments represented here and are confident that our students are poised to make demonstrable progress towards a sustainable future that contributes in meaningful ways to achieving Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations".

Teaching Assistant

Sithuni Mimasha
Graduate Student
in the Dept. of Geography

Sithuni Mimasha, is a master's student in the Department of Geography. She says her experience working as a teaching assistant for the Practicing Sustainability course has been thoroughly enjoyable, particularly due to the opportunity it has afforded her to work closely with the students and gain valuable experience along the way. "I have come across some fascinating areas of sustainability that I would suggest exploring. I'm practicing the concept of sustainability in several ways. One example is that I'm concerned about minimizing waste generation by using products and resources efficiently and effectively. Moreover, I'm keen on recycled and reused materials that can also help to conserve natural resources and reduce carbon emissions. Personally, my favorite sustainable development goal is reduced inequalities, as it holds the power to create a more equitable world for all individuals".

Name

Student Group Leaders

When conducting group work and assignments, the Practicing Sustainability course is divided into three student groups each led by a "group leader" and "co-leader". The groups are titled A, B, and C.

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Kayla Bolen
Sustainable Biomaterials

Kayla is a senior majoring in Sustainable Biomaterials. She is a member of the Horticulture Club and also works for numerous regenerative farms back at home. Kayla practices sustainability in her everyday life by trying to use plastic free skincare products, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, laundry detergent and kitchen supplies. She also grows a good amount of her own food, along with purchasing from local farmers. Kayla has been working hard to decrease her overconsumption and thinking more before making purchases.

Group A Lead
Addie Gaudet
Environmental Conservation
and Society

Addie is a junior majoring in Environmental Conservation and Society and minoring in Pathways to Sustainability and Ecological Cities. She is an intern on the food team at The Virginia Tech Office of Sustainability and a founding member/secretary for the Sustainable at Virginia Tech Club. Addie practices sustainability in her everyday life by purchasing goods from local businesses, raising awareness to sustainable initiatives, and using the Blacksburg public transportation system as often she can.

Group B Lead
Anahí Sanchez-Moya
Political Science

Anahí is a senior majoring in Political Science and minoring in Spanish. She serves as a volunteer at the Indigenous Community Garden and has found her community within the Ati: Wa:Oki Indigenous Community Center serving as a Peer-Mentor. She is also a part of Native at VT and is a member of Omicron Delta Kappa. Anahí practices sustainability in her everyday life by living conscientiously and ensuring her purchasing power is both intentional and planned. This means purchasing food at farmer's markets, purchasing clothing that are thrifted or of lasting quality, and by looking for ways to make simple or difficult changes within her day to day life. Anahí believes the most impactful change that she has had has been by sharing her own personal stories and joining larger groups of individuals that aim to do the same.

Group B Co-Lead
Jules Cerato
Environmental Conservation
and Society

Jules is a senior majoring in Environmental Conservation and Society and minoring in Pathways to Sustainability and Forestry. She is an intern on the waste management team at The Virginia Tech Office of Sustainability, a brother in Lambda Iota Mu Conservation Fraternity, and founded the annual sustainable fashion show at Virginia Tech. Jules practices sustainability in her everyday life by purchasing a majority of her clothes/goods secondhand, composting her food scraps, and "eco-bricking" to promote plastic sequestration. She is also very passionate about animal rights and welfare.

Group C Lead
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Group C Co-Lead
Emily Kafka
Environmental Conservation
and Society

Emily is a senior majoring in Environmental Conservation and Society and minoring in Pathways to Sustainability. She is a member of the Virginia Tech Dining Services' Student Advisory Committee which focuses on trying to make sure that Virginia Tech can offer and provide what students want the most, including green and sustainable initiatives. Emily practices sustainability in her everyday life by avoiding single-use plastics, using reusable bags, water bottles, utensils, and other products as often as possible.

Student Group A

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Jenny Ballard
Interior Design

Jenny is a senior majoring in Interior Design and minoring in Pathways to Sustainability. She is a member of Interior Designers for Education and Sustainability (IDEAS). Jenny practices sustainability in her everyday life by being a mindful consumer and using sustainable alternatives like dryer balls instead of dryer sheets.

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Gabrielle DeCotiis
Interior Design

Gabrielle is a senior majoring in Interior Design and minoring in Pathways to Sustainability and Sociology. She is an executive member of both the Dance Company at Virginia Tech and for IDEAS (Interior Designers for Education and Sustainability). Gabrielle practices sustainability in her everyday life by being a responsible consumer, limiting her single-use plastic usage, and recycling.

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Jaimie DeDea
Landscape Architecture 

Jaimie is a fifth year student majoring in Landscape Architecture and minoring in Pathways to Sustainability. Jaimie practices sustainability in her everyday life by trying to lead by example for others to follow.

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Zoe Hessian
Geography

Zoe is a junior majoring in Geography and minoring in Biodiversity Conservation and Horticulture. She is heavily involved in the "Stop the Mountain Valley Pipeline" movement and a member of the Indigenous Friendship Garden. Zoe practices sustainability in her everyday life by taking the Blacksburg Transit and eating/shopping locally.

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Madison Norman
Environmental Conservation
and Society

Madison is a senior majoring in Environmental Conservation and Society and minoring in Pathways to Sustainability and Forestry. She is an intern on the waste management team at the Virginia Tech Office of Sustainability. Madison practices sustainability in her everyday life by limiting her food waste, taking the Blacksburg Transit, and collecting soft plastics to donate to the "Plastic Bag Collection Program" available on campus. She also loves to garden. Madison believes that if we can be intentional about our daily choices towards sustainability, it makes the larger opportunities for impact that much more exciting.

Student Group B

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Ava Blackwell
Interior Design

Ava is a senior majoring in Interior Design and minoring in Pathways to Sustainability. She is a member of IDEAS (Interior Designers for Education and Sustainability). Ava practices sustainability in her everyday life by enrolling in sustainability courses each semester to expand her learning.

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Connor Hedderman
Environmental Conservation
and Society

Connor is a senior majoring in Environmental Conservation and Society and minoring in Pathways to Sustainability. Connor practices sustainability in his everyday life by recycling and reusing materials.

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Jared Jackson
Wildlife Conservation

Jared is a junior majoring in Wildlife Conservation with a focus on Human Dimensions and is minoring in Pathways to Sustainability. Jared practices sustainability in his everyday life by recycling, using a reuseable water bottle, and thrifting clothes.

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Sara Pacini
Biochemistry

Sara is a senior majoring in Biochemistry and minoring in Pathways to Sustainability. She is in the Honors College and also a member of the American Cancer Society and Phi Beta Kappa. Sara practices sustainability in her everyday life by reusing items and donating what she doesn't need (whether it is clothes, books, plastic materials, or compostable materials). The other sustainable habits Sara follows she learned from her mom. "I learned the importance of eating local, in-season foods and supporting nearby farms and businesses. Furthermore, I have had the privilege to practice sustainability in other countries such as Costa Rica, where I worked on the national volcano park upkeep and with local community schools and shelters".

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Molly Meehan
Environmental Conservation
and Society

Molly is a senior majoring in Environmental Conservation and Society and minoring in Pathways to Sustainability, Blue Planet, Environmental Economics, and Forestry. She is a brother in Lambda Iota Mu Conservation Fraternity and participates in Virginia Tech's Climate Action Living Laboratory (CALL). Molly practices sustainability in her everyday life by planting native species, recycling, and riding the bus.

Student Group C

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Miles Dolan
Entrepreneurship, Innovation, 
and Technology Management

Miles is a senior majoring in Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Technology Management and minoring in Pathways to Sustainability. Miles practices sustainability in his everyday life by doing research into what actually works and keeping his carbon footprint low.

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Elayna Ealy
Environmental Conservation
and Society

Elayna is a junior majoring in Environmental Conservation and Society and minoring in Pathways to Sustainability and Ecological Cities. She is an intern on the food team at the Virginia Tech Office of Sustainability and also a member of Sustainable at Virginia Tech. Elayna practices sustainability in her everyday life by recycling plastics, cans, glass, and papers. She also brings her own reusable bags to the grocery store instead of using the plastics ones given at checkout and likes to go to the farmer's market to buy goods produced by local farms and businesses.

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Ethan Frye
Environmental Conservation
and Society

Ethan is a senior majoring in Environmental Conservation and Society and minoring in Biodiversity Conservation and Forestry. Ethan practices sustainability in his everyday life by being conscientious in the products he consumes.

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Maia Mirro
Professional and
Technical Writing

Maia is a senior majoring in Professional and Technical Writing and minoring in Pathways to Sustainability. She is a brother in Lambda Iota Mu Conservation Fraternity. Maia practices sustainability in her everyday life through her involvement in community service planting natives species, cleaning up local green spaces, and removing invasive species from ecosystems.

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Megan Pritchard
Biological Systems Engineering

Megan is a senior majoring in Biological Systems Engineering and minoring in Pathways to Sustainability. She is a part of the Hydrologic Analysis Research Program (HARP) with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Water Supply Office, and a lead on the Virginia Tech Wind Turbine Design Team. Megan practices sustainability in her everyday life by limiting single-use materials in her life and thrifting most of her clothing. She also tries to reuse items she no longer needs in unique ways.

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Josh Protil
Interior Design

Josh is a senior majoring in Interior Design and minoring in Pathways to Sustainability. He is a member of IDEAS (Interior Designers for Education and Sustainability). Josh practices sustainability in his everyday life by being a conscious buyer and supporting local businesses. He also applies sustainability concepts to his projects (both student and professional), advocating for spaces that are healthier for the environment and for people.

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Maggie Shelton
Environmental Conservation
and Society

Maggie is a senior majoring in Environmental Conservation and Society and minoring in Pathways to Sustainability. Maggie practices sustainability in her everyday life by thinking about her actions. She tries to walk places when possible and bring reusable products of all kinds!

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