The Office of Sustainability provides hands-on, applied internships to enhance the personal, professional, and academic goals of graduate and undergraduate students. Grouped into Communications, Engagement and Research & Operations cohorts, the 2022 Academic Year welcomed both new and returning students to create meaningful impact in each of these areas. Read about each intern’s story and about their ongoing sustainable efforts on campus.
Engagement Interns foster participation within and increase awareness among the student body and members of the JHU community through programming events, organizing wellness programs, leading speaker series, and more.
Senior majoring in Biophysics, minoring in Environmental Studies
Romina Rojas has found and fostered a sense of community surrounding sustainability on campus. She has worked as an engagement intern with the Office of Sustainability since the fall semester of her sophomore year.
In the spring of her sophomore year, Rojas partnered with the Center for Social Concern (CSC) to develop a presentation that highlighted issues of environmental justice in Baltimore. In the spring of 2022, Rojas introduced “Mindful Walks” to the Hopkins community in partnership with the Office of Student Health and Wellbeing. The program consists of monthly walks that wind around campus with meditative stops along the way.
“The environment has a huge impact on people’s health,” says Rojas. “My work with the Office of Sustainability has given me a new perspective on health care, which I think is going to benefit me as a future physician.”
Read more about Romina’s experience here.
Graduate Student, BSPH Global Environmental Sustainability and Health
Stacy Villegas is committed to making an impact. Through her travels to developing countries, work with infectious diseases, and involvement with various nonprofits, she has come to recognize the importance of sustainability. On the domestic and global scale, she hopes to contribute to a shift in values that brings about a respect for the Earth and all that it provides.
Villegas was appointed this year as the Student Coordinator for the Sustainability Leadership Council (SLC). As Coordinator, Villegas works alongside the Office of Sustainability to serve as a liaison between Hopkins students and SLC members.
In her first year as Student Coordinator, Villegas hopes to bring more diversity and inclusivity to the SLC and to build a greater sense of community.
“Some students feel like they can’t have a say,” says Villegas. “I hope that with my assistance, we can assure students that their involvement is necessary and appreciated.”
Read more about Stacy’s experience here.
Senior majoring in Environmental Studies and International Studies
When she arrived at JHU, Talia Shadroui had not yet considered a path focused on sustainability. It was not until her completion of Introduction to Global Environmental Change that Shadroui realized the significance of climate change.
“Since then, I have wanted to make sure that I help tackle the problem and all of the issues that are related to climate change and the environment,” says Shadroui.
In her sophomore year, Shadroui organized online speaker sessions related to environmental justice in Baltimore. Each session featured professionals that spoke about health impacts of pollution, sustainable behavior change, and sustainable food systems. Shadroui also organized a sustainability mentoring meet-up through OneHop, in which ten undergraduate students were paired with JHU alumni in the environmental field.
Throughout her time with the Office of Sustainability, Shadroui has gained experience in a collaborative workspace and has learned about the complexity of environmental issues.
Read more about Talia’s experience here.
Research & Operations
Research & Operations Interns track, analyze, record, and work to reduce JHU’s environmental footprint, in terms of carbon emissions, waste production, responsibility in the laboratory, and more.
Senior majoring in Behavioral Biology
Mashiyat Ahmed has been involved with sustainability at Hopkins since her freshman year. For three years, she worked as an intern for Homewood Recycling. A senior now, Ahmed will continue her work in the role of the Office of Sustainability’s Zero-Waste Intern.
“Sustainability has pretty much shaped my experience here,” says Ahmed.
Among other efforts as an intern with the Office, Ahmed hopes to bring back the Free Food Alert system that existed prior to the pandemic. Her main goal, however, is to standardize waste disposal practices across all campuses. She recognizes that there are inconsistencies regarding waste separation on each Hopkins campus and hopes to eliminate confusion by means of standardization and education.
“When we are creating so much confusion, none of these processes are effective,” says Ahmed. “What I am figuring out now is how departments and campuses can come together [under] a standardized process. I want to do something where I can have a sustainable impact.”
Read more about Mashiyat’s experience here.
MD/PHD Candidate, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
Kaitlin Williams is currently studying skin disease at the Garza Lab to complete her PhD. Her work in the laboratory, however, goes beyond her academic research. As the Green Labs Intern, Williams is influencing sustainability in the laboratory environment– one of the most energy intensive spaces on campus.
In her first year as a Research and Operations Intern for the Office of Sustainability, Williams will bolster the Green Labs initiative by creating informational flyers, building up the program’s Listserv, and increasing education and awareness of the initiative.
“I have a lot of laboratory experience, so I understand the environment and the issues,” says Williams. “It’s easier for me to provide a nuanced, grounded approach to [Green Labs]. I hope to empower individuals to talk about things that they can do that will not negatively impact them or the lab or the science but will help the environment.”
Read more about Kaitlin’s experience here.
Senior studying Mechanical Engineering, minoring in Entrepreneurship and Management
Sustainability has been a part of Kathy Cao’s Hopkins experience throughout her four years. Now a senior and a three-year intern for the Office of Sustainability, Cao’s work has been constant and impactful.
In her sophomore year, Cao worked with the Dining Program Manager to benchmark the Hopkins dining program and suggest improvements. She created a map that displays all outdoor waste receptacles to help eliminate confusion and pinpoint disposal areas, as well. In the spring of her junior year, Cao worked on a project related to tracking and analyzing Scope 3 emissions from the university. Currently, she is compiling survey responses from fellow universities in order to understand the sustainable efforts being taken by other institutions.
“It is cool to be involved with the Office of Sustainability because it feels like I am really able to make an impact here,” says Cao.
Read more about Kathy’s experience here.
Graduate Student, Environmental Health and Engineering
Since last November, Sakshi Labhane has worked as a data intern within the research and operations team to complete greenhouse gas emissions accounting, tracking, and analysis.
Her main role, she describes, requires converting Excel file data via Python and integrating said data. After all data is accounted for, final processing for the annual report is completed. Currently, Labhane is tasked with integrating all of the code written by this past spring’s Office of Sustainability interns. To increase efficiency, she has developed a robust code that will streamline the process of inputting and analyzing future data.
“This job is directly translatable because there are a lot of openings related to sustainability that need this exact job profile, where you manage greenhouse gas accounting,” says Labhane. “If I were looking for a job and not working towards a PhD, I know which direction I would want to be in.
Read more about Sakshi’s experience here.
Vaidehi Sunil Zanwar
Graduate Student pursuing a Masters in Environmental Management with a minor in Sustainability
Vaidehi Sunil Zanwar was asked to participate in the HopStart competition as part of her graduate coursework last spring semester. Participants were prompted to develop an innovative business idea and plan, so Sunil Zanwar’s group decided to focus on sustainability.
“That’s how I started researching sustainability, and I got extremely interested,” says Sunil Zanwar.
Not long after reaching out to the lead sustainability analyst at the Office of Sustainability, Agathe Pierot, Sunil Zanwar joined the research and operations team.
With the Office, Sunil Zanwar is applying the work that she started through HopStart. The product that she developed performs life cycle assessments of products, so helps identify and quantify environmental impact. Sunil Zanwar can use this product and understanding to help the Office of Sustainability with estimating Scope 3 emissions.
Sunil Zanwar hopes to aid Hopkins in achieving its sustainability goals and “educate students about the different kinds of emissions that are on campus and what we as students can do to mitigate the situation.”
Read more about Vaidehi’s experience here.