We were given the chance to interview Hannah L Rutledge, from the Tezcan Lab
What is your lab position?
Gradaute research assistant
How long have you worked in the lab?
What kind of research do you do?
Does your research pertain to sustainability?
Yes! I am conducting research to understand how the enzyme nitrgoenase works. Nitrogenase is an important part of the nitrogen cycle in that it sustainably converts nitrogen (N2) from the air to ammonia, which is bioavailable and helps support life. However, the Haber-Bosch process is currently used as the industrial method of converting nitrogen to ammonia, which unsustainable and is responsible for consuming 3-5% of the world’s natural gas supply (or approximately 2% of the world’s total energy supply ) annually. By learning more about nitrogenase, we can work to develop a more sustainable industrial method for converting nitrogen to ammonia.
Why do you think people ignore sustainability issues?
I think that many people ignore sustainability issues because they bring up uncomfortable truths that require individual efforts to remedy. Our habits and culture are so ingrained in who we are that it can be difficult to accept these truths and make individual changes to reduce our unsustainable habits. For example, we could reduce (or eliminate!) our reliance on animal products in our diets and we could shift away from disposable industries (such as plastic waste and fast fashion). This can be difficult though because it often intertwined with our personal identities.
Has the Green Labs program helped your lab become more sustainable? if so, how?
Absolutely! It has raised awareness of how small actions can have large impacts. For example, just closing the fume hood sash when not in use can save a ton of energy!