‘Climate Heroes’ Honored by Office of Sustainability

Four smiling people stand in a row, two holding certificates
The three winners of this semesters Terra Awards, from left, are Maggie Roosa, Leandra Harris and David Carpenter, posing with Director of Sustainability Mary Ellen Mallia. (Photos by Margaret Hartley)

ALBANY, N.Y. (Dec. 1, 2022) — The University’s “climate heroes” were celebrated Wednesday at a reception in the Assembly Hall of the Campus Center, hosted by the Office of Sustainability.

A woman speaks in front of a screen with the words Energy Treasure Hunters. Heads from the audience are seen in the foreground.
Energy Officer Indu explains the “Energy Treasure Hunters” program, which looks for ways for offices at the University can save energy and reduce waste.

Students who serve as campus eco-reps, composting coordinators and sustainability-affiliated student groups were all honored at the event, which included a presentation by student intern Alison Sawyer on the University’s carbon and nitrogen footprints.

The highlight was the presentation of the Terra Awards, which recognize the efforts of faculty, staff and students in advancing sustainable culture at UAlbany. 

The faculty winner was David Carpenter, professor of environmental health sciences and a researcher who has worked as an expert witness for plaintiffs experiencing health outcomes after PCB and glyphosate exposure. His evidence contributed to a $185 million verdict against Monsanto about PCBs in 2021, brought attention to PCBs in farm-raised salmon, and dangers associated with electric and magnetic fields from power lines.

Also nominated in the faculty category were Irina Holden, an information literacy and science outreach librarian, and the members of the Environmental Humanities Lab: Kayla Adgate, Mike Hill, Ilka Kressner, Greg Nowell, Chris Pastore, Courtney Ryan, Amanda Samuels, Kendra Smith-Howard and Chris Wolff.

The staff Terra Award wend to Leandra Harris, associate dean of students, who has co-chaired the Student Affairs Climate and Sustainability Committee for the past three years. Harris was honored for the way she models sustainable practices, setting an example for reducing energy and paper in the office setting, focusing program and service opportunities around the 17 UN Global Goals, and advancing sustainability goals within the division of student affairs.

Other staff nominees were Brad Bunzey, a staff associate in architecture, engineering and construction management and the stormwater management program coordinator; Penny Strobeck, manager of finance and operations in the School of Education dean’s office; and Dan Townsend, assistant director of Residential Life.

Maggie Roosa, a senior majoring in Human Biology, won the Terra Award for students. Roosa oversees the Eco-Rep program, whose members have participated in the Weatherize Albany service-learning project and the Green Workspace Challenge, promoting Fill It Forward and providing peer education on sustainability.

Also nominated for the student Terra were Julia Boyne, a junior environmental and sustainable engineering major; Kumiko Dabney, a senior sociology major; Olivia Dirla, a sophomore majoring in human development; Aaliyah Johnson, a senior Communication major; and Andrew Kaminski, a graduate student in the School of Social Welfare.