Rania Skaf (undergrad), Yang Liu (PhD student), and Yuanyuan Zhao (PhD student)

The New York State Pollution Prevention Institute (NYSP2I) at The Rochester Institute of Technology recently named the team from the College of Staten Island as first-place winners of its second statewide R&D student competition.

The competition, entitled “Go Green on Campus,” required the teams of students to identify a specific activity at their college or university with a large environmental footprint and find a solution to make their campus more environmentally sustainable. Open to colleges and universities throughout the state, the event recognized both graduate- and undergraduate-level sustainability projects as part of NYSP2I’s ongoing research and development program.

The CSI Team placed first in the Graduate Student category over teams from Syracuse University and The New School.

The CSI graduate team’s first-place project, entitled “Degradation of Dyes Used in Undergraduate Instructional Laboratories,” was a plan to use sunlight and a unique nanomaterial to decompose organic wastes generated by the College’s instructional laboratories before they are disposed.  The team was led by two PhD candidates working in Dr. Alan Lyons’s Chemistry lab, Yuanyuan Zhao, and Yang Liu, along with undergraduate students Bibi Ghafari and Rania Skaf.

The team won after making a 15-minute presentation to a panel of three judges at the competition and received trophies and $1,500 to share among team members.

“This was a team effort,” said Dr. Lyons of the collaborative nature of the project. “The graduate and undergraduate students wrote the proposal and conducted the experiments.  They were monitored by me and Dr. QianFeng Xu, a Research Associate working in my lab.” Dr. Lyons also credited CSI Health and Safety Officer James Saccardo “for his support and valuable guidance regarding hazardous and non-hazardous waste disposal,” as well as Dr. Mike Bucaro, manager of the CSI Imaging Institute, “for helping the team acquire high-images.”

“We were thoroughly impressed by the innovative ideas that both the graduate and undergraduate level teams identified to help make their campuses more environmentally friendly,” said Anahita Williamson, Director of NYSP2I.