The program is organized by the Ray C. Anderson Center for Sustainable Business (Center) at the Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business. The management of the program is shared by Arianna Robinson, the Center’s assistant director of business operations, and Kjersti Lukens, the Center’s program manager. Lukens reflects, “Every year, it’s always so enjoyable to work with students who care so much. Thankfully, there appears to be no end to students who have heart and want to come and work in sustainability.”
The Center is pleased to announce that 25 passionate changemakers from across campus have been selected for the 2023-24 academic year. While Scheller serves as the program’s home, the organizers solicit and eagerly welcome students from all academic areas. After all, making sustainable changes at a global scale will require participation and innovation from people of all backgrounds, not just, for instance, business or engineering.
Marketing and word of mouth have paid off. The organizers are excited to see such diversity in this year’s cohort. This year’s Fellows represent the greatest variety of graduate programs to date: business, city and regional planning, computational science and engineering, computer science, earth and atmospheric sciences, environmental engineering, sustainable energy and environmental management, and quantitative and computational finance. The Ambassadors’ majors include business, environmental engineering, environmental science, chemical and biomolecular engineering, and industrial engineering.
“I believe that businesses ultimately have a responsibility to progress social and environmental causes because of their immense influence in nearly all aspects of life.”
In September, this year’s cohort, either individually or in small groups, selected year-long projects that would expand their knowledge and skills in one of their interest areas. Students could pitch their own projects or sign up to work on one proposed by the Center or its partners. This year’s projects include:
Ray C. Anderson Center for Sustainable Business – Integrating social performance and human rights into Center activities.
Drawdown Georgia Business Compact – Reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the building sector.
Drawdown Georgia Business Compact – Synthesizing research on plastics and circularity for dissemination to practitioners.
Cox Enterprises – Researching a recycling project for waste diversion.
Stryten Energy – Developing a Southeast Energy Systems Manufacturing Hub for advanced battery energy storage systems.
Imagine That Cafe and Bakery – Incorporating sustainability into a business model for a local Black-owned business.
WunderGrubs – Preparing the insect protein company for forthcoming requirements in emissions reporting in California.
Decatur Christian Towers – Developing a proposal for rooftop solar at a local assisted living home.
The students are now in the process of exploring sustainability challenges and opportunities for partners and clients. Fellow Tatiana Agbeyibor helps to illustrate the depth of students’ involvement in projects. Agbeyibor is working with WunderGrubs to help them strategize how to meet GHG reporting requirements. She explains, “As Fellows, we are quickly tasked with finding solutions to real-world problems with all the complexity accompanying that. Part of our job is to be a project manager, on top of being a researcher and analyst. I feel like I have already learned a lot about WunderGrubs’ unique concerns as well as how to work with my team.” Agbeyibor, who wanted to be a Fellow to collaborate on problems with purpose, says, “I get that and much more.”
Fellow Wyatt Williams entered the program already possessing an enviable track record in sustainability. In his career, for instance, he has helped the private sector decarbonize operations. Sustainability is, as he says, “core to my values, career, and personal goals.” What inspired this sustainability practitioner to apply for the fellowship? “To be honest, it’s perfect for my professional development,” Williams says. “As a consultant for Fortune 100 companies, I wanted to deepen social equity and inclusion in these efforts.” Williams is now working on a fellowship project exploring areas of opportunity for social performance and human rights for the Center and the Drawdown Georgia Business Compact.
While the projects are designed to stretch the students’ abilities, no one goes it alone. Students are backed by a strong support system, including staff, faculty, and partners who provide mentorship and expertise on topics such as equity, greenhouse gas reporting, waste management analysis, and more.
Robinson, a staunch advocate for mental health, ensures the program aligns with the Georgia Tech Strategic Plan value, “We nurture the well-being of our community.” This year, she will invite all participants to meet with her for life coach sessions. Robinson says, “We care about our Fellows and Ambassadors and are investing in their futures. We are interested in supporting them in their personal development . . . which will sustain them professionally as well.”
The Fellows and Ambassadors also learn from each other. They benefit from working alongside peers who share a passion for creating a positive impact on the planet and society. Many of this year’s participants entered the program already possessing strong sustainability backgrounds. Ambassador Rohan Datta says he truly values the peer group. He explains, “I’ve had the chance to connect and collaborate with graduate students already well versed in what I hope to do! I’ve also been able to learn so many practical skills about the world of sustainable business through the program activities.”
In addition to working on projects, participants are invited to fully engage with the Center. They are, for instance, encouraged to attend talks by guest speakers and to network with practitioners at symposia.
Upon graduation, Fellows and Ambassadors become Center alumni. The Center maintains close ties with alumni of the program. A number of alumni have stayed involved with the Center through activities such as serving on the Advisory Board and speaking at career panels for current students. This year marks the first year a project will be hosted by a former Fellow. Joe O’Neal (EMBA ’22), a board member for Decatur Church of Christ Senior Housing, Inc., brought forth the idea to research rooftop solar for a local assisted living home. The Center looks forward to welcoming back more alumni for engagement.
The Center invites you to read profiles of this year’s Fellows and Ambassadors. Click here.
2023-24 Scheller College Graduate Sustainability Fellows Tatiana Agbeyibor Sakshi Deshpande Chang Ding Michael Hayes Janice Jean Shawn Johnson Jie “Jay” Kong Jiashu “Josh” Li Laura McComb Jay Mulay Neosha Narayanan Claire Patrick Adrian Sandoval Wyatt Williams Xiaoyang “Jeremy” Xia
2023-24 Scheller College Undergraduate Sustainability Ambassadors Kate Albertus Leila Benjelloun Rohan Datta Amanda Ehrenhalt Francis Flannery Jade King Sanam Patel Jessi Patino Mireya Ramirez Ashley Zheng