Campus Announces First-Ever Sustainability Champions
By George Foulsham
Food and energy— two of the world’s most important resources — are what fuel the research and fervor of UCSB’s first-ever Sustainability Champions.
David Cleveland, a professor of environmental studies, has been named the champion for 2009-10, and Eric Matthys, a professor of mechanical engineering, will assume the role for 2010-11.
“These two worthy individuals are true leaders on the critical issues of our time,” said Lorelei Moosbrugger, assistant professor of political science and chair of the Academic Senate’s Sustainability Work Group. “The Senate Sustainability Work Group recognizes that leadership with this award. We hope it will allow Cleveland and Matthys to reach a broader audience on campus and in the community, and underscore the significance of sustainability research at UCSB.”
The campus’s Sustainability Champions are awarded a $25,000 grand to conduct research and to employ graduate or undergraduate assistants. In addition, champions are asked to teach a freshman seminar in their area of expertise and give a public lecture, Moosbrugger said.
Cleveland’s interest in sustainability began when he lived in an African village for 18 months in the early 1970’s, working on a doctoral dissertation about how people adjusted their fertility rates based on environmental and agricultural changes. More than 30 years later, he is still working on many of the same issues — environment, food, agriculture, and human population. “How do these interact in ways that either result in what we could call a catastrophe, or in what we would call a success?” he said.
Matthys’s passion for sustainability began with his early interest in high-efficiency diesel engines while an undergraduate student in Europe. Subsequently, he undertook innovative efforts as a graduate student at Caltech to retool technologies to make industrial energy systems more efficient. He investigated the concept that the turbulence levels in fluids can be drastically reduced by introducing minute amounts of special polymeric or surfactant additives into the flow. The result is a large decrease in the amount of energy needed to move fluids through systems such as pipelines or hydronic heating and cooling systems.
That research expanded when he joined UCSB in 1985. Working with the campus Facilities Management staff, he and his research team later tested the proposed technology in the cooling systems of some of the newer campus buildings.
“We were able to show that the technology is indeed working as we thought it would, ” he said.
Both Cleveland and Matthys see outreach as a major part of their roles as Sustainability Champions. Details about how each plans to involve the campus community can be found at <www.ia.ucsb.edu/pa/display.aspx?pkey=2113>