We were given the chance to interview Kelly Kendro, the Lab Coordinator from the Language and Development Lab.
What is your lab position?
I am the coordinator of Dr. Barner’s Language and Development Lab in the Psychology Department.
How long have you worked in the lab?
I have worked in the lab for just over a year.
What kind of research do you do?
We study how children learn about concepts like language, number, and color. We’re also interested in how children and adults differ in understanding these concepts. To do this, we test children by playing short games with them.
What is your favorite part about your research?
I really like learning new things, and I especially enjoy finding the answers to questions that no one else has ever asked. (As an added bonus, I get to play games at work — it’s a lot of fun!)
What makes you passionate about sustainability?
In my position, I’m working with toddlers and preschoolers a lot. They’re so curious about the world, and they’re always surprising me with their responses and the questions they ask. Yes, sustainability is important for us right now so that we mitigate our contributions to the climate crisis, but it’s also really important to make sure that there is a habitable world for these kids (and the next generation of kids, and the one after that) when they’ve grown up. They shouldn’t have to clean up the messes from the mistakes of the people who came before them.
Why were you interested in getting your lab certified?
Climate change will affect us all, whether we feel like we’re actively contributing to the crisis or not. As a developmental psychology lab, we don’t work with chemicals or harmful materials in our work, but we do work with people. I was interested in working with Green Labs to make sure that lab members are conscious of minor changes that we can make on a daily basis to become more sustainable. Even better, the sustainable actions that our lab can practice are also relevant to most people’s daily lives, so we can model them for those we’re in contact with outside of the lab
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? 4 years
What kind of research do you do? Bioinorganic chemistry
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!