Husky Sustainability Awards

The Husky Sustainability Awards recognize individuals and groups across all University of Washington campuses who lead the way for sustainability at the University of Washington. This is the 15th year awards have been given by the UW Environmental Stewardship Committee.

The Husky Sustainability Awards are given to students, faculty and staff from the Seattle, Bothell and Tacoma campuses who show impact, initiative, leadership and dedication around sustainability. The 2024 recipients are:

Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine

UW Medicine

The UW Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine has worked for over a decade to continuously reduce greenhouse gas emissions from anesthetic gasses at UW Medicine hospitals. In 2022, they developed an internal sustainability dashboard in Epic, a medical record software used by many hospitals worldwide. Resident anesthesiologists, led by Dr. Matt Lee, used the dashboard for a sustainability project to understand how the emissions of their clinical practice compare to their peers’ and to make informed decisions on how to reduce the environmental impacts of their practice. The project led to a drop in resident emissions of 25%, and in the two years since the implementation of the dashboard, the department’s overall hourly emissions rates have dropped by 50%. Over the past decade, the department has discontinued use of desflurane, an anesthetic gas with high global warming potential. The department’s influence extends far beyond UW Medicine hospitals. UW anesthesiologists assisted Epic to create a similar sustainability dashboard that is now available worldwide at all Epic institutions, helping other anesthesiology teams to reduce their environmental impacts.

Becky Ryser

staff, UW Surplus

As a staff member at UW Surplus, Becky has implemented several new initiatives to advance sustainability. When COVID-19 closed the Surplus public store, she worked to help launch an online storefront for UW Surplus, which has allowed Surplus to reach an even wider audience and ensure items no longer needed by UW departments are kept out of the landfill. In the past year, she collaborated with Campus Mail to create a new way for UW departments to purchase office supplies from Surplus. Departments can now request common office supplies via an online form and Campus Mail will deliver them to their offices using the Bicycle Delivery Program. She has also worked to find new ways to divert items out of the landfill, including finding groups who can re-purpose specific items or specialized recycling vendors. She serves as the face of Surplus at many outreach events, educating people on Surplus’ services and how it supports the UW’s sustainability goals.

Clare Tupper

staff, UW Tacoma

Clare has been a driving force for sustainability at UW Tacoma during her four years as a student and currently as a staff member overseeing the UWT Giving Garden. She has organized long-lasting community and on-campus collaborations and successfully managed and improved one of the only usable green spaces on the Tacoma campus. Under her guidance, the garden continues to increase the amount of produce harvested and donated to the UWT Pantry and surrounding youth shelters. She’s also revitalized the native plant garden walk, including adding signs in Twulshootseed; built new seating areas, increased heating to the greenhouse for the winter season and worked to not only beautify the garden space but also increase accessibility features.

Hemalatha Velappan

Graduate student, School of Environmental and Forest Sciences

Hema has a history of creating, executing, and leading sustainability efforts on the UW Seattle campus. She co-founded the Institutional Climate Action (ICA) student group, along with five other students, which has been heavily involved in fossil fuel divestment and decarbonization efforts. She was instrumental in ICA’s efforts to ask the Board of Regents to approve divestment from fossil fuel companies and was one of the principal authors of the Graduate and Professional Student Senate’s resolution calling for 95% emission reduction by 2035. Further, Hema has also served on nine sustainability-oriented committees and task forces centered on activism, advocacy, lobbying, education, communication, and community building, including the Campus Sustainability Fund committee and the Environmental Stewardship Committee. Her involvement in the Urban Forestry Symposium committee and her contributions to a recent campus biodiversity monitoring event have also been well-received.

Max Stafford

student, Materials Science and Engineering

Max founded the Solar Decathlon Club at UW, which participates in a national challenge to design sustainable, zero energy buildings to address real-world issues. This club is not just a platform for competition but a community builder that involves interdisciplinary students in designing sustainable homes, thereby raising awareness about sustainable building technologies and practices among the wider community. In addition, he has been a student leader at the University of Washington Industrial Assessment Center (UW IAC), managing and mentoring a team of 20 undergraduate associates in conducting detailed energy assessments. These assessments yield significant financial and environmental benefits for local industries, while providing research and certificates to students who participate. Max is also an undergraduate researcher at the Integrated Fabrication Lab which focuses on manufacturing techniques to improve the performance of lithium-ion batteries. Max has developed code that characterizes battery feature sizes, which allows for quicker and more accurate analysis of its performance. Max has won several scholarships and awards, such as the Environmental Innovation Challenge Clean Energy Prize and the Puget Sound ASHRAE Student Scholarship. Max is committed to nurturing the next generation of sustainability leaders by empowering students to take proactive steps towards effecting change.

Mollie Grow

professor, UW Medicine

Dr. Mollie Grow has served as the lead mentor to a pediatric resident-led effort to create the Pediatricians for Climate Action initiative, which organized educational sessions, supported legislative advocacy for climate legislation through the Washington Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and organized ecological restoration volunteer opportunities several times a year. The UW team also conducted national research to demonstrate the ongoing need and interest among pediatric residents and program directors to create climate and health curricula, leading to publication in Academic Medicine. Recently she led a steering committee to propose and seek funding to create a standing committee for the Department of Pediatrics dedicated to climate change, which launched in September 2024 and has about 50 members. She chairs the committee, which has led to engagement with new initiatives, expanded involvement with UW and Seattle Children’s sustainability initiatives, research collaborations, and planning for additional partnerships.

Legacy winner: Society for Ecological Restoration - UW chapter

student group

The work of SER-UW has literally shaped the Seattle campus. Since its founding in 2008, SER-UW has consistently worked on sites across campus to remove invasive species and restore the landscape with native plants. These efforts go beyond just replacing vegetation to thinking deeply about how our campus landscape is used and how to integrate the ecological restoration into also providing welcoming spaces for the campus community. Projects are undertaken with a long-term plan, so that the native plants have an opportunity to establish themselves and invasives are removed as they attempt to re-overtake spaces. The group relies on student volunteers and has work sessions multiple days almost every week of the year. The SER group has created a handbook for restoration projects, including a step-by-step protocol to start, manage and implement restoration sites. The group leadership provides guidance to new member site managers regarding best practices and effective restoration based on site-specific conditions. Unlike many student groups, SER-UW has consistently been active and effectively ensures new students are recruited and provided knowledge so that the work isn’t interrupted as students turn over.