Spring Terra Awards honor commitment to sustainability

At left, Assistant Professor Hillary Wiener (center, in red) is pictured with her marketing students during a field trip to New York City. At right is Gary Ribis, biking to campus as he does year round. (Provided photos)

ALBANY, N.Y. (April 23, 2020) – A marketing professor, an occupational safety specialist and a pre-med student are being honored with this spring’s Terra Awards for their commitment to a greener UAlbany.

The award honors outstanding commitment to advancing the culture of sustainability on campus, through curriculum, operations, research or engagement. This year’s announcement came on Earth Day, the same day that President Rodríguez announced the adoption of the University’s Climate Action and Sustainability Plan.


Senior Nat Walts pauses during a hike in the Plotter Kill Preserve in Schenectady.

The award is handed out each semester by the Office of Sustainability after a committee oversees a University-wide nomination process. This spring’s winners are Hillary Wiener, assistant professor of marketing in the School of Business; Gary Ribis, occupational safety specialist in the Department of Environmental Health and Safety; and Natalyn Walts, a senior Biology/pre-med major.

“UAlbany is a nationally recognized leader in sustainability and this is due in part to the individual efforts of many faculty, staff and students,” said Todd Foreman, vice president for Finance and Administration. “This year’s award recipients are great examples of exceptional academic, operational and experiential efforts.”

Weiner was recognized for her work overseeing her marketing students, who conducted surveys to discover the extent to which students value sustainability initiatives on campus, and to determine which elements resonated the most with them. Nominators noted that the results presented to top administrators on campus “left a lasting impression.”

Ribis was the staff winner, and nominators noted that he “leads by example and outreach.” An active and influential member of the Sustainability Coordinators group, Ribis is an avid biker and has presented classes on bike maintenance and safety to classes and organizations on campus. He also organized campus participation in a citizen science project measuring snowpack all winter in collaboration with the Albany Pine Bush Discover Center.

Walts, a senior set to graduate next month, has served as president of UAlbany Students for Sustainability, an intern in the Office of Sustainability and the social media intern for the Solve Climate by 2030 Power Dialogue. She also completed the Bard C2C Climate Leadership Fellows program and the Post Action Landfill Network Beyond Waste student summit. Nominators noted her initiative in collaborating and engaging with other campus organizations and external groups.


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