Sustainable Solutions Lab | Office of Sustainability | The University of Vermont(title)

The Sustainable Solutions Lab (SSL) is a collaborative research and action hub that responds to the needs of our university community to address sustainability challenges. The SSL bridges knowledge from the classroom to our campus operations.

Sustainable Solutions Lab 

The Sustainable Solutions Lab (SSL) is a collaborative research and action hub that responds to the needs of our university community to address sustainability challenges. The SSL bridges knowledge from the classroom to our campus operations. The SSL:

  • Uses the campus environment as a living laboratory to find solutions to reduce our carbon footprint and operate more sustainably.
  • Facilitates collaboration between staff and faculty subject matter experts to design and support high impact projects for students to pursue.
  • Addresses known sustainability gaps on campus by facilitating paid internships for undergraduate students, paired with staff and faculty support.
  • Handles administrative needs, supervise students and provide project management, professional and leadership development support in a cohort model.

Who We Are:

Elizabeth Palchak, PHD
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As an experienced curriculum developer and teacher, Elizabeth identified the SSL model to better prepare UVM students for careers in the broad field of sustainability. She leads the SSL and works to help identify high leverage projects and partnerships that advance the goals of the Comprehensive Sustainability Plan.

Caylin McCamp
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As a long-time supervisor of applied student projects through the Eco-Reps program Caylin acts as the direct supervisor for many students in the SSL providing them with project support, leadership and professional development resources and assists them in connecting with stakeholders across campus to strengthen and share their work.

Meet the Students

Bella Butzirus - Green Labs Intern
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Bella Butzirus

Bella graduated from Grinnell College in 2020 with a B.S. in psychology and biochemistry.  She joined UVM as a research technician and laboratory manager in 2021.  UVM’s commitment to sustainability was contagious and Bella searched for opportunities to be more involved – she became a sustainability ambassador and joined SRIAC in 2022. As an employee of UVM Bella took advantage of the employee continuing education program to take classes in environmental science and horticulture. Bella transitioned from employee to master’s student in 2023 when she began the Sustainable Innovation MBA at the Grossman School of Business.  She has a commitment to lab sustainability and is working with the Office of Sustainability this summer to provide recommendations for improved sustainability of research activities at UVM.

Clare Nelson – Data Analyst
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Clare Nelson is pursuing an MS in Civil Engineering with a focus on transportation and sustainable policy development. Her work supports sustainability planning and data analysis with a focus on transportation emissions. Before joining the SSL, Clare had been an Eco-Rep, interned with the Physical Plant Department, completed research on sustainable building materials, acted as secretary and president of the UVM chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), and remains an active researcher with the UVM Transportation Research Center. Her research explores alternative fuels tax funding mechanisms as well as transportation challenges in small, rural communities. On the side, she's always up for long bike rides, snowboarding, painting, propagating plants, making delicious curries or giving haircuts.

Abby Goldman - CSP Implementation Intern
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Abby Goldman.

Abby is pursuing a bachelor’s in Environmental Studies with minors in Community and International Development and Green Building and Community Design. Her work supports the implementation of the Comprehensive Sustainability Plan with a focus on waste minimization and sustainable transportation. During the academic year, Abby interns with the Office of Sustainability as the Sustainable Transportation Intern as well as works for the Gund Institute for Environment as an administrative and tech assistant. Outside of the office, you can find Abby at the gym, spending time in nature, or baking up something delicious in the kitchen. 

Eric Urbaniak - Carbon Pricing Researcher
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Eric

Eric Urbaniak is pursuing an MS in Natural Resources at UVM. Prior to moving to Vermont, Eric interned for the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe on waste diversion projects, the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park for sustainability planning, and the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy Biosolids Taskforce. Additionally, during his time as an undergrad, he co-created, then directed the Central Michigan University Office of Sustainability. Eric's research in the SSL is focused on carbon pricing aims to investigate policy mechanisms towards higher education decarbonization efforts. 

SSL Student Alumni

Liz Amler – Policy Fellow
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Liz is pursuing a Masters of Public Administration with a concentration in Environmental Policy. Her work in the SSL involved tracking local, state and national policy developments to identify possible implications and opportunities that are relevant to the implementation of the Comprehensive Sustainability Plan. She brought extensive policy experience to her role, having served at the Senate Office of Bernie Sanders and on political campaigns. Her passion for building a sustainable future stems from her time as an outdoor educator at North Country Camps in the Adirondack mountains of New York.

Erin Camire - Pollinator Intern
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Erin graduated with a bachelor's degree in forestry with a focus on sustainable landscapes, highlighting the interconnections between nature, human cultivation and design. They now work as an ecological landscape consultant with the Association to Preserve Cape Cod. Erin's work at the SSL focused on mapping and analyzing UVM's landscapes and making suggestions on how to reduce emissions from lawn equipment and increase pollinator habitat, to forward the goals set by the Comprehensive Sustainability Plan. They've spent many summers learning about the natural growing habits of pollinator plants in the fields of Hudson Valley, New York and all throughout the forests of Vermont.