Troemel Lab 

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Interview with Ivana Sfarcic from the Troemel Lab 

 

What about your research gets you the most excited?

In the Troemel lab, our research goal is to learn more about ways in which intracellular pathogens interact with their host cells and vice versa. Therefore, we are working on pathogens that can be studied in a convenient but powerful whole-animal host, the nematode C. elegans. Working with a whole-animal model gives us the opportunity to study the effects of an infection on various tissues (like intestine and neurons) in the same animal. C. elegans is a very versatile model that is actually infected by many species of intracellular pathogens in the wild. Our main focus in the lab is on a unicellular fungal-like pathogen of the phylum Microsporidia. Different Microsporidia species have been found to infect virtually all animals, including immune suppressed humans. Microsporidia can also cause severe damage in agricultural settings, which is currently most problematic in fish and shrimp farming. I think, what makes us most excited, is when we manage to get a controlled infection of our worms with intracellular pathogens and are able to monitor interactions between host and pathogen. It is extremely interesting to see how a constant arms race of host defense and pathogen intrusion shaped the genetic equipment of both organisms. We want to answer questions like: How does the pathogen exploit the host cell to thrive? How does the host cell sense the invasion of a pathogen? and, Which mechanisms does it have to fight against the intruder?

What’s one practice your lab has implemented to be sustainable in its research?

I firmly believe that even small changes in a lab setting can have a large, cumulative impact on the sustainability of the given lab. I think the biggest impact on our sustainability was identifying areas in which we could save energy and implementing changes. For example, we had energy saving light bulbs installed in the whole lab, equipped our heating blocks with timers, and switched off some heating blocks completely after realizing that they are not in every-day use. On another note, we are transitioning to bio-degradable gloves, which are actually stunningly similar to the non-biodegradable ones we used before (-and cheaper!).

 

Profile in Sustainability – Kim Kane

Kim Kane | Library Sustainability Committee kim(500x500)

How did you first become interested in sustainability?

I have always been interested in sustainability on a personal level and love the thought of getting to zero waste. I feel the choices each of us makes on a daily basis make a difference. If we all incorporate a few green acts into our daily habits, we can reduce the amount of trash we generate just by doing simple things like packing a lunch, using reusable containers, bringing a refillable water bottle, using cloth napkins, and refusing one-time-use items.

How did you become involved with the Library’s Sustainability Committee? 

At one point, a few of us went to the Library’s administration and asked about starting a sustainability group in the Library. Later when they put a call out for members, I immediately volunteered and have been on the team ever since. A few years ago, I became chair of the committee.

Could you talk about your role as chair of the Library Sustainability Committee? 

The focus of the Library Sustainability Committee (LSC) is to promote sustainability in the library with staff and library users. We have a dedicated team of committee members– everyone brings a special talent to the group. For example, one person is excellent at writing, another at graphics, someone else is good at organization, and everyone volunteers at the events we host and serves as a resource person when questions are brought to the group. As chair, I help guide the group, meet with other sustainability organizations on campus, and share information with group members and report on our doings to library administration.

What does your group do?

Each year we come up with goals to accomplish. Many times we look at what the campus and the student groups are working on and align some of our projects with these initiatives.

This year, one of our goals is creating clear signage for our recycling and trash containers in the Library. We are working with Jennifer Bowser at the Sustainability Resource Center to get wording that is consistent with other places on campus. This will help library users know what can be recycled and help us meet the campus goals for zero waste.

The committee also holds various events in the Library. Some are for staff members only, such as the free Summertime Swap where we bring in items from home that we no longer need and exchange them with each other. We also host a staff training on recycling and energy and water conservation.

One event the Library hosts for the public is the Makers Day in April. Library staff help attendees how make various items, some from natural ingredients, others from recycled materials, and people take their projects home. Some of the things we do pretty regularly are mixing up green cleaning and beauty products, planting succulents that library staff have brought from home, and making buttons out of recycled book covers. One year we gathered hundreds of t-shirts donated by staff and the International Center’s thrift shop and people turned them into shopping bags.

Ideally, I would love to see the LSC used as a model for other departments on campus to create their own sustainability teams. Then all of those teams could get together to talk about best practices and share ideas about greening our work spaces. That would be acting locally on a level that could really make a difference.

What are some small things you do to incorporate sustainability into your everyday habits?

I look at trying to be more sustainable in my personal life as a challenge, and each year try to do one more thing. For the past four years I have eaten a predominately plant-based diet. This past year I tried to remember to bring my own “to-go” container for leftovers when I go out to eat. After forgetting a few times, I decided to leave the container in the car, so I would have it with me at all times.

This year, I was thinking about the number of papers towels I use on a daily basis and decided to cut way back. At home I’ve begun using a cloth to wipe up spills and at work I’ve been trying to use only one paper towel to dry my hands. One of my co-workers at the Library brings a small cloth with her to dry her hands–now that is dedication!

Do you belong to any other sustainability groups on campus?

I regularly attend meetings of the Staff Sustainability Network. This is a wonderful association that promotes sustainability on campus. Members meet monthly; sometimes we go on tours of sustainable buildings on campus and other times we host speakers. It’s a great way to meet new people who are passionate about sustainability and also learn new things.

Books I am currently reading:

“An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power: Your Action Handbook to Learn the Science, Find Your Voice, and Help Solve the Climate Crisis” by Al Gore.

“Drawdown The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming” edited by Paul Hawken

“The No Meat Athlete Cookbook” by Matt Frazier and Stepfanie Romine.

(Posted 3/09/18)

Profile in Sustainability – Chase Cockerill

Chase Cockerill Headshot - CopyChase Cockerill | BA in Political Science, Business Minor | Class of 2016

What got you interested in sustainability?

I love being outdoors! I was fortunate enough to grow up surfing, camping, fishing, and hiking frequently so it was at a young age that I appreciated the world’s natural beauty and understood the importance of acting in a sustainable manner so that future generations could enjoy the same activities that I do.

My interest in the sustainability field really ramped up when I was in high school and was asked to lead our school’s recycling club. It was through this club that I learned how a small group of people could implement strategies that significantly enhanced how sustainable a relatively large institution is. Our club organized recycling challenges and raised enough money from turning bottles/cans into recycling centers that we were able to purchase all new recycling bins for the campus that directly increased the percentage of the student population who recycled.

After graduation you took a job at Measurabl, could you talk about what you do at here? 

I work in Business Development at Measurabl so I’m directly responsible for expanding the global market share of our SaaS (software as a service) platform. Measurabl is precision software that allows any organization to collect, act and report on their sustainability data. I have the pleasure of speaking with and educating many individuals at Fortune 500 companies, professional sports organizations, and institutional real estate owners/operators on how they can best accomplish their sustainability goals and initiatives.  

Do you have any particular interests regarding sustainability? (water, energy, building, etc) 

At this point in my career, I have a really broad interest in sustainability, but am working most closely with real estate assets and the utility cost/consumption data associated with their use. My favorite part of my job is that I have the opportunity to work with so many different organizations and each one is looking to enhance their sustainability in a slightly different way. I find a lot of joy in being able to offer creative, technological solutions that meet an organization’s unique needs.

Org Spotlight: Ecology, Behavior & Evolution Club

ebe.jpgThe Ecology, Behavior & Evolution (EBE) Club is dedicated to building a diverse community of undergrads interested in ecology and evolutionary biology. We provide a variety of opportunities for you to get involved and explore: from research position and internship guidance to hosting guest speakers, volunteering at local restoration projects, and more.

The EBE Club is also the local chapter for SEEDS (Strategies for Ecological Education, Diversity and Sustainability), a national network of student groups founded by the Ecological Society of America.  A primary goal of SEEDS is to increase participation by under-represented groups in ecology. UCSD SEEDS/EBE Club students can apply for numerous travel and research opportunities here.

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