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!).
Kim Kane | Library Sustainability Committee
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.
Chase 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.
The 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.
Join the Facebook Group to hear about upcoming events and opportunities!
In 2009, a few Library staff members who were deeply involved in the sustainability movement both on campus and beyond proposed that the UC San Diego Library have a green group of its own. Library administration agreed, and the Library Sustainability Committee (LSC) was born. We currently have 7 staff members dedicated to greening the workplace and lives of the library’s 435 staff and student workers, as well as promoting sustainability for all of our library users.
What are the advantages of having an officially sponsored group?
While many of us work to promote sustainability as individuals, collective action with institutional support is an ideal model for ensuring that sustainability initiatives are kept on everyone’s radar. Over the years, the membership of our group has changed, but our work has continued uninterrupted.
From the beginning, the library’s administration has supported the work of our group. They haven’t always been able to give us what we want (that first year, during a time of drastic financial cutbacks, a proposal that LSC developed with a student group for LEED-EB certification for the Geisel building was tabled), but they have always given us what we need–dedicated time to work on sustainability issues, support for key projects and events, and an unwavering commitment to making sustainability a priority in the library. Sustainability is even written into the library’s mission statement.
What kinds of projects have been most successful for you?
LSC has always been a little group with big ideas. Over the years, we’ve gotten better and better at pursuing projects on a scale that our group can sustain and also developing collaborations that allow us to leverage our efforts.
Since that first LEED-EB proposal, LSC has collaborated with student groups to implement a lighting and energy use study in Geisel, as well as to obtain Green Office Certification. Geisel’s first water refill stations resulted from a collaborative project with funding provided by a student organization. The stations were such a success that the library installed one in a staff area and will add more as renovations of Geisel continue.
As the sustainability goals of the campus and the library have aligned, the campus and library are taking on some of the larger projects that our staff group envisioned. UC San Diego has committed itself wholeheartedly to sustainability. Because of campus mandates, planned renovations to Geisel’s bathrooms and the eighth floor will meet LEED-EB standards.
LSC’s primary focus is fostering green practices within the library. Our group worked with Imprints, the library’s printing vendor to test and then implement the use of 100% post-consumer recycled paper at all of the public copiers and printers in the library. We collaborate with our administrative assistants to ensure that the library orders the greenest available cleaning and office supplies whenever possible. Last year we inventoried cleaning supplies used in our staff kitchens, researched green products, then removed and safely disposed of our old supplies which have been permanently replaced by greener options.
Each year we take on a larger project (this year it is improving recycling practices within the library) and continue successful initiatives from previous years. We continually work to eliminate waste, facilitate recycling, and promote green buying practices. Each year, we create and update educational materials and sponsor a variety of events and that have become popular library traditions. Some staff favorites include a free Summertime Swap, fruit & veggie exchange, green office training that includes treats and trends, and earth week celebrations with lots of hands-on opportunities for creating green items from cleaning products to cosmetics.
Over the years, we’ve built on earlier efforts, retaining the best of what has been done, while seeking out new opportunities to green library practices and adding fresh materials and events to our green offerings.
Your group has been around for almost a decade now. What are some of the lessons you’ve learned over the years?
- Dream big and plan big, but know that if you can’t do it all right away, keep taking smaller steps toward your larger goals. Institutional support, campus collaboration, patience, and persistence will keep you on the right path and are essential for making your own efforts sustainable as you strive to create a greener world.
- Be flexible and persistent. If something isn’t feasible or isn’t working, don’t be afraid to let it go for the time and devote your energy toward areas where you can make a difference. Understand that you will be revisiting projects and possibilities and building on your successes for a long time to come.
- We need one another. Reach out for help and inspiration. Other people in the sustainability world can offer you guidance and also benefit from what you have to offer. Share your knowledge and experiences freely.
- Share your accomplishments. Let your supporters know what you’re doing. The library takes pride in LSC’s work and accomplishments and LSC is fueled by the support of our administration and staff. We wouldn’t be able to do what we do without one another.
Presentations & Publications
To learn more about our beginnings and to get some important tips on starting a sustainability group of your own, check out this article written by some of our first members:
- Kim Kane & Annelise Sklar, “Greening the Mothership: Growing Environmental Sustainability Group at the University of California San Diego Library,” in Focus on Educating for Sustainability: Toolkit for Academic Libraries, ed. Maria A. Jankowska, 2014.
“Using the University of California (UC) San Diego Library’s Environmental Sustainability Group as a case study, this chapter walks readers through establishing a need for sustainability efforts within an academic library, communicating that need to the library’s administration and other stakeholders, and launching an official library group to work on those issues. It also describes sustainability activities an academic library can undertake, and the resources needed—or not—to accomplish them and measure their success. This chapter is aimed at libraries just starting to plan environmental sustainability activities, or those who want to formalize their current endeavors into their library organization.”
- From the Ground Up: Promoting Sustainability in Academic Libraries. Poster presentation. American Libraries Conference, 2014.
- Going Green Together: Promoting Sustainability & Campus Collaborations. Poster Presentation. California Association of Research Librarians, 2016.
Want to connect with us?
The easiest way to reach us is via email at: LSCUCSD@ucsd.edu
We are also working on a webpage and will have various resources posted there soon!
Kol Chaiken | Class of 2018 | Environmental Systems – Policy
Could you explain the problem with the way we currently get our energy, and how renewable energy can solve these problems?
The majority of our current energy use comes from fossil fuels like oil, coal and natural gas. Fossil fuels release greenhouse gasses like carbon dioxide and methane into our atmosphere which are the primary cause of climate change. Climate change is a huge threat that will continue to get worse in the coming years, and we’re already starting to see some of the impacts including the fires and mudslides in Santa Barbara as well as the hurricanes that devastated the East Coast and Puerto Rico. In addition to climate change, carbon dioxide causes ocean acidification which kills ecologically important marine species like coral. Other impacts of fossil fuels include air and water pollution.The impact of the pollution usually falls on poor communities of color who experience higher rates of pollution-related diseases like asthma.
Switching to Renewable Energy like solar and wind means that fewer greenhouse gases and pollutants will be emitted, helping to curb the impact of climate change and improve overall health.
What is the 100% renewable energy campaign?
The 100% Renewable Energy Campaign is a national campaign run by the Student PIRGs in partnership with Environment California to get campuses to commit to procuring 100% of their electricity from renewable sources by the year 2030 and all energy (including vehicles and heating) by the year 2050. We believe that college campuses as progressive and innovative institutions should lead the way to a renewable energy future. It’s completely doable and it will create a better future for all of us, so why not?
CALPIRG’s Renewable Energy campaign is in a unique position because we have the opportunity right now to advocate for the state of California to commit to 100% renewable electricity by 2045. Last March a bill called SB 100 that would commit California to 100% renewable electricity was introduced in the state senate. I went with 12 other students from UCSD and 60 others from other UCs to Sacramento to advocate for this bill and it passed through the Senate in July! Right now the bill is making it’s way through California Assembly. This bill would be a HUGE step for renewable energy because California is a very influential state and when we make changes the world pays attention. Unfortunately, there are dirty energy lobbyist working to kill this bill so we need all the support we can get.
Our strategy to pass this bill is to convince our CA Assemblymembers that by voting yes on this bill they are helping to create a greener, healthier more meaningful future for young people across California. UCSD students can help out by doing things as simple as stopping to sign a petition with a CALPIRG volunteer, or making a phone call to their Assemblymember. And, if they’re interested in helping even further they can join CALPIRG and come with us to Sacramento to deliver petitions to our representative.
In your opinion, why is sustainability important?
To me sustainability means helping to create a better world than the one you were given by preserving natural resources and creating a healthier environment. As an Environmental Policy major and campaign coordinator for CALPIRG, my role in sustainability is to help implement laws and regulations that break unsustainable norms. CALPIRG’s last big win was passing Prop 67 the plastic bag ban which makes California grocery stores more sustainable by providing incentives for people to bring their own reusable bags. This is important because often times based on the ways our laws, culture and infrastructure is now it’s hard to make sustainable choices, but it’s our job to make sustainability easier for everyone. I like to do little sustainable things each day like separating my compost and bringing it to Roger’s garden at the end of each week.
What other sustainability initiatives are you involved in?
I’m working on a project with Dr. Jane Teranes from Scripps Institute of Oceanography and the head of the Environmental Systems department to assess UCSD students’ understanding of climate change.
The Friends Resale Shop, located at UC Building 214 on Library Walk, is an on-campus thrift store. They offer a wide range of gently used clothes (contemporary, designer and vintage), household items, books, and a wonderful music selection (tapes, CDs, and LPs). Proceeds from the sales help fund scholarships and activities related to international education. Volunteers and donation of gently used items are welcome.
The Friends shop has existed for over 40 years. They recently moved to a new location across from Center Hall and are continuing to expand. All of the items in the shop are donated by on campus faculty, staff, and students, or local residents in La Jolla. The resale shop offers a wide variety of items including professional attire, designer clothes, and one-of-a-kind treasures. All of the proceeds go towards Friends of the International Center scholarships and the shop is run entirely by volunteers. There are currently 18 volunteers consisting of students, staff, and others from our local community. Each volunteer brings different talents to help run the shop. The name “Friends” came about because they support and encourage friendship. The volunteers at the resale shop come from many different backgrounds. Some days, you can walk into the shop and hear conversations in Spanish, French, or German!
The resale shop is working towards becoming Zero Waste. They recycle and reuse the boxes and bags that donations come in. When there are items that are difficult to sell, like toys for children, they are donated to the Monarch School for Homeless Youth, the Mommy Daddy & Me group on campus, Goodwill, or Father Joe’s Villages, a charity in San Diego that provides programs and housing for the homeless.
Stop by the Friends Resale Shop from 10AM – 3:30 PM Tuesday through Friday, or drop by to make a donation between 11am-3pm. Don’t forget to follow them on Facebook and Instagram to hear about sales and new items! Interested in volunteering? Contact Marion Spors (shopFIC@ucsd.edu) by email, or by telephone at the Resale Shop (858) 534-1124 during regular Resale Shop hours.
Matt Ellis | Measurabl | Class of 2003 | B.A. Economics, Religion
How did you first become interested in sustainability?
I was working in the commercial real estate business at CBRE and the concept of “green building” started coming up routinely. This is in 2008, the start of the recession. I was curious: what made a green building? What was the value to the tenant and landlord? As you can imagine, business was relatively slow so I started looking into “green” during my spare time and found there wasn’t much guidance or literature, particularly in plain English and accessible for brokers like myself. So I started taking what was available and condensing that into a newsletter about “green leasing,” which I shared regularly around the office. That caught on and CBRE encouraged me to learn more about sustainability and then share those lessons with the broader company. The more I learned, the more convinced I became that sustainability was transformative to the way we did business as a real estate services company and the built environment: buildings, infrastructure, cities, and homes. That original interest, and my education in sustainability from there, compelled me to start Measurabl and put effort into sustainability full-time.
Could you talk about what you do at Measurabl and how you help other companies to become more sustainable?
You “can’t manage what you don’t measure,” so Measurabl made it simple to measure what matters – the environmental impact of your organization – using software. Whether you are a commercial building owner, a corporation, a city, or a university, you can easily and cost-effectively collect the data on your environmental performance like utilities and projects, as well as understand how you’re doing relative to peers, which means you are empowered to take action and improve performance.
You noticed that companies had difficulty collecting sustainability data, and you took the initiative and started Measurabl to address this issue. What are some things you learned from this experience of starting your own company?
It’s incredibly rewarding and equally challenging; there were many lessons learned. The main ones are: (1) Build what you believe in foremost, but be willing to hear and apply criticism dispassionately. (2) Have fun. If you aren’t having fun (most of the time) then something is wrong in the organization – your people, product, investors… Find that and fix it, or get out of the business. (3) People are everything and it’s more than just your employees that matter: build and maintain good relationships with your clients, investors, and partners. They will help you more than you realize.
Is there any advice you would like to share with students who are interested in pursuing a career in sustainability or trying to live a more sustainable lifestyle?
#1 thing to know is that sustainability is a real and growing industry; you can build a career in sustainability. #2 is to know that “career” can take many forms beyond the growing ranks of “Director of Sustainability” who occupy the mid or senior executive level at many large organizations. The trick is to recognize the type of role you want by perfecting the skill set you already have. So if you’re an engineer, look at environmental engineering. If you’re in finance, look at green bonds or impact investing. If you’re already employed and a sustainability role doesn’t exist at your company, create it by writing the job definition and listing competitors with that role, then go to your leadership to ask for their sponsorship.
Allyson Long | Safety Coordinator at Scripps Institution of Oceanography
Could you talk about your role as an active member of the Green Labs Team?
I joined the Green Labs Team when I was working with EH&S Research Safety to promote safety in sustainability – to protect both laboratory personnel and the environment. I’ve used my transition to Scripps Institution of Oceanography to encourage SIO labs to become more involved and be leaders in UC sustainability. The Vernet Lab at SIO was the winner of last year’s North American Laboratory Freezer Challenge (NALFC), and there are now 7 SIO labs and 5 SIO offices Green Certified. I love working with a research community that is forward thinking and action driven. Some upcoming projects the GL Team is pursuing are reviving the Chemcycle program, getting more labs to chill their freezers up, and collecting data on lab waste. Any UC San Diego lab is welcome to join the monthly Green Labs meetings just to listen in on or to actively participate in ongoing projects.
What are some sustainable habits for energy use, recycling, and waste management that support sustainability initiatives for UC San Diego?
It’s important to know that we all make trash and consume energy. But we can all certainly make less trash and consume less energy! UC San Diego makes simple acts of sustainability easy: Coffee carts/cafes will give you a discount for bringing your own coffee mug and some places offer reusable mugs (you just have to ask!); Hydration stations are virtually everywhere so there’s no reason to buy disposable plastic water bottles; Dining facilities like Roots offer reusable dishware and post-consumer composting; And every space on campus has recycling bins.
An important and impactful habit is to start becoming disengaged from single use disposable plastics. You can’t avoid every plastic thing, but you can refuse a plastic straw or lid that is handed to you. Consider bringing your own reusable silverware to your next office potluck, or buying a fresh piece of fruit instead of fruit in a plastic container. I bring a basket of reusable mugs and a reusable coffee carafe from an on-campus coffee cart when I host meetings. People still go for the disposable items because it’s what they know or because it’s more convenient, but some of my SIO colleagues now ask to “check out” the basket of reusable mugs for their meetings. Look at what other spaces are doing around you; I borrowed the reusable mug share program idea from the Sustainability Resource Center located in Price Center.
Know that changes take time and don’t become discouraged or feel guilty when you can’t avoid waste. Learning new habits and practicing things differently will be hard in the beginning, and certainly not everyone around you is going to embrace sustainability the same way you do. Engage and inform your colleagues by putting up a UC San Diego recycling guide next to your kitchen waste bins or host a Writing Instrument Brigade collection in your office. Join one of the campus sustainability groups to become connected with others in our community. I’m so glad to be part of both the Staff Sustainability Network and SIO for Sustainability groups because they keep me motivated and remind me that we’re all part of something bigger. Keep things simple and know that little actions lead to big changes.
You established a recycling center at SIO to collect items that can’t be properly recycled in the single stream bins. Could you talk about how you went about doing this and why it’s important to the goal of Zero Waste?
Diverting waste from landfills is an easy task when it’s convenient, which was my goal. “Universal waste” are items that California prohibits from going into the trash and landfill, but can be recycled. These include batteries, fluorescent lights, and electronics which contain human and environmental hazards like lead, mercury, and cadmium. UC San Diego already has great programs established to collect these types of waste, such as sending batteries for disposal through intra-campus mail or dropping off your used cell phones at the collection point in the Price Center Bookstore. There is also the Writing Instrument Brigade program where you can send in your unused writing instruments (pens, pencils, markers, etc) to be diverted from the landfill and upcycled.
Knowing how to navigate all the information on Blink and knowing where to go on campus to find these services is half the battle, so providing a central recycling collection point for SIO just made sense (even more so considering SIO’s location from main campus). Recycling is a universally recognizable component of waste minimization and everyone on campus can help divert hazardous materials from being landfilled. Every item diverted from the landfill contributes to the Zero Waste Goal!