Loyola University Chicago

Institute of Environmental Sustainability

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Congratulations to the IES Class of 2017!

Congratulations to the IES Class of 2017!

In May, IES graduated 58 seniors including 34 with a major in Environmental Science.

Our graduating seniors have taken to heart Loyola's mission of social justice. This year's Senior Award winners have worked for the Southeast Side Coalition to Ban Petcoke; developed an innovative way to clean waste water in our biodiesel lab; managed our farmers market and much more.

Christie L. Kochis
Aldo Leopold Award for Outstanding Achievement
President's Medallion recipient Christie Kochis (Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies) has worked on several eco-friendly initiatives at Loyola and interned in the Office of Sustainability since 2013. As a sustainability intern, she has been responsible for garnering funds and planning the 2017 campus-wide Waste, Water and Earth Weeks. She’s also served as the President for the Student Environmental Alliance for the past two years. With Kochis’s help and fundraising, Loyola purchased a solar power charging station. This is just one of many of the initiatives she’s helped push forward at the university level. Director of Sustainability Aaron Durnbaugh comments, “Christie has been a power for change at Loyola. We are so excited to see what she will accomplish and we know that sustainability at Loyola will not be the same without her.”

Jessica R. Beckman
Rachel Carson Award for Outstanding Academic Performance
Jessica Beckman (Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Science) has maintained a 3.96 GPA while tutoring environmental science to Arrupe College students, interning at the Talking Farm and serving as a research assistant for Professor Robyn Mallett in the Psychology Department. As a research assistant, she contributed to a study exploring human psychology as it pertains to water conservation. “IES has a department of faculty that want to see their students succeed. It was the perfect department for me as I met people that shared similar passions,” comments Beckman. 

John C. McCabe 
Rachel Carson Award for Outstanding Academic Performance
John McCabe (Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science and Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Policy) is a transfer student from Lawrence University. During his time at Loyola, McCabe pursued a number of internship and research experiences. He interned at the Illinois Environmental Council, The Little Village Environmental Justice Organization, The Delta Institute, and served as a legal assistant at Thorn & Associates. McCabe served as a research assistant in Dr. Ray Dybzinski's lab and is currently working on a paper with his lab cohort.

Corinn Rutkoski
Rachel Carson Award for Outstanding Academic Performance
Corinn Rutkoski (Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science) has maintained a grade point average of 3.96 since transferring to Loyola in fall 2015. Rutkoski has worked as an intern with the Urban Agriculture Program and as a Field and Lab Technician with the Tuchman Lab. In recent months, she has conducted research on the cattail Typha x glauca, a hybrid invasive species that poses a threat to the function of Great Lakes coastal wetlands. " The IES curriculum has shown me the value of interdisciplinary education. By studying natural science, social justice and policy simultaneously, I have gained a deeper understanding of my role as a student and citizen," comments Rutkoski.

Daniela T. Herrera
James E. Hansen Award for Outstanding Performance in IES Internship

Daniela Herrera (Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science) came to Loyola from Elgin Community College. Her mentor, Biodiesel Lab Manager Zach Waickman, writes “Daniela came to our door knowing what she wanted to do. Conduct research to support a career at a wastewater treatment facility. She knew she needed to expand her exposure to lab practices, analytic equipment and original scientific inquiry.” As a Biodiesel Lab Intern, Herrera convinced Waickman to use acid tolerant algae to treat the biodiesel waste water. In addition to conducting original research, Herrera has spent a considerable amount of time mentoring other students in the lab and has inspired two students to continue different aspects of this waste water treatment project. At Loyola, Herrera has been the recipient of a Provost Research Fellowship, a Mulcahy Research Scholarship and an Outstanding Undergraduate Research Award at Loyola’s 2017 Weekend of Excellence.

Aqsa Q. Junagadhwala
Wangaria Muta Maathai Award for Outstanding Service

Aqsa Junagadhwala (Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science: Conservation and Restoration) has made it her mission to be a citizen scientist. Her volunteer efforts have led her to monitoring plants of concern with the Chicago Botanic Gardens and leading restoration work with the Forest Preserves of Cook County. As an active citizen, she’s helped run volunteer efforts for Chicago conferences and ensured that she’s had the appropriate knowledge of plants and aquatic microorganisms to serve as a real asset as a Teaching Assistant to students in Assistant Professor Dybzinski’s Ecology Lab. “Whereas previous TA’s had failed to attract students to their office hours, Aqsa was almost always booked. The students enjoyed interacting with her and benefited from her clear explanations. Aqsa was frequently singled out in end-of-the-year evaluations as a huge asset to the class,” comments Dybzinski.

Taylor L. Choy 
Berta Isabel Cáceres Flores Award for Outstanding Leadership
Taylor Choy (Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science: Food Systems and Sustainable Agriculture) is the first IES student to be promoted to an IES staff position. This summer, Taylor will serve as the 2017 Farmers Market Coordinator where she will work to provide fresh food to the local Rogers Park community. Choy also served as President of the Growers Guild which included leading projects and events such as volunteer workdays, field trips, bag printing, candle-making and several campus wide events. One of her many on campus projects included spearheading the No-Impact Meal which worked to provide Loyola students with a sustainable, locally-sourced meal while teaching them about while facilitating a dinner discussion around food sustainability and justice. Urban Agriculture Coordinator Kevin Erickson writes “Taylor Choy is one of the most well-rounded and hard-working students I’ve worked with.”

Ashley M. Williams
Berta Isabel Cáceres Flores Award for Outstanding Leadership
Ashley Williams (Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Policy) has spent her career at Loyola standing up for communities who live in the shadow of pollution and whose health and well-being are being undermined by corporate and government interests. Williams has worked with the Southeast Side Coalition to Ban Petcoke in many roles and interned for such organizations like the Environmental Law and Policy Center and Food and Water Watch Illinois. She served as a co-moderator for a panel on grassroots activism and environmental justice in Chicago at our 2017 Climate Change Conference. Assistant Professor Ray Dybzinski comments, “Ashley is passionately involved in several sustainability-related activist projects around Chicagoland. She frequently made announcements before class started. Honestly, she’s an inspiration to me, and her example has spurred me to become more active!”

Gabrielle A. Habeeb
E. O. Wilson Award for Outstanding Performance in Independent Research

Gabrielle Habeeb (Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science) has seen the impacts that ecological restoration can have on communities. At IES, Habeeb was an integral part of the Invasives to Energy project where she helped harvest invasive cattails near Michigan’s great lakes. Her mentor, Researcher Brendan Carson, comments “Gabby added a lot to our weekly journal discussions, and she helped us process sediment and plant samples through the fall.” In addition to her restoration research, she served as a Campus Sustainability Intern where she managed the monthly events for LOCALS (Living Off Campus and Living Sustainably). She was also an Environmental Science Tutor through Loyola’s ACE Program.

Congratulations to all our graduating seniors!