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  • AASHE-STARS

The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System™ (STARS) is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance.

Overall Rating Silver
Overall Score 53.62
Liaison Michael Kensler
Submission Date Jan. 11, 2016
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

Auburn University
AC-9: Academic Research

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 9.49 / 12.00 Nanette Chadwick
Director, Academic Sustainability Programs
Biological Sciences
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Number of the institution’s faculty and/or staff engaged in sustainability research:
130

Total number of the institution’s faculty and/or staff engaged in research:
1,176

Number of academic departments (or the equivalent) that include at least one faculty or staff member that conducts sustainability research:
45

The total number of academic departments (or the equivalent) that conduct research:
71

A copy of the sustainability research inventory that includes the names and department affiliations of faculty and staff engaged in sustainability research:
Names and department affiliations of faculty and staff engaged in sustainability research:

See the file attached, and also posted on our website below.


A brief description of the methodology the institution followed to complete the research inventory:

Staff in Academic Sustainability Programs collected information about sustainability-related research projects of faculty, using a combination of methods. On a regular basis, the Director of Academic Sustainability Programs perused university publications such as Auburn Speaks, the Auburn Report, Auburn Daily, Auburn News, and press releases from the Office of Communications and Marketing. Each spring semester, research presentation titles from the annual Research Week were examined, and all sustainability research presentations from this campus-wide conference were added as well. During the annual meeting of the Academic Sustainability Advisory Committee in Fall 2015, comprised of faculty from 10 colleges on campus, committee members were asked to peruse the draft inventory, and to submit corrections and additions from their units. Finally, an email message was sent to all faculty on campus via the faculty email list, to ask for any final additions or corrections. The finalized inventory of sustainability research conducted during 2013-15 was posted online in December 2015.


A brief description of notable accomplishments during the previous three years by faculty and/or staff engaged in sustainability research:

Dr. Christopher Anderson, faculty member in the School of Forestry, completed a campus nitrogen budget for Auburn University. This 7-person research project collected a wide array of information to quantify the impact of university activities on the nitrogen cycle. The research team measured N inputs and outputs in 4 subsystems: surface atmosphere, human metabolism, animal metabolism, and landscape. They compared the N balance with those known for the University of Minnesota and the University of Virginia. The results can be used to inform pollution reduction plans on campus, and are published as: Brodbeck AB et al. 2015. Urban Ecosystems (online publication).

Dr. Sean Forbes, faculty in the College of Education, succeeded in the past 3 years to establish and conduct research on several school gardens in Opelika, Alabama. Dr. Forbes worked with several elementary schools to set up the gardens in collaboration with teachers, to develop curricula to accompany the gardens, and to evaluate the integration of the gardens into students' learning experiences. In a related project, he manages a team of high school student workers at the Opelika Community Garden and evaluates the impact of the garden on their development and learning experiences. This research and related outreach activities have had a major impact on schools and the community in Opelika.

Dr. Mark Dougherty in Biosystems Engineering has assessed filtration rates, water quality, and maintenance through pervious pavements, which allow for infiltration of stormwater and groundwater replenishment, rather than surface flooding. He and colleagues have evaluated a combination of both pervious pavements and rain gardens, and determined the thermal properties of heat island impacts from various pavements i.e., how heated runoff water impacts downstream areas. In these research projects, they utilize a new green infrastructure laboratory on campus, in a team that includes collaborators from Biosystems Engineering, Horticulture, and Building Science. This group has designed and built two large bio retention cells (BRCs) in their building courtyard, which provide information on the functioning of these water features for teaching, outreach, and research. A graduate student in Dr. Dougherty's lab has analyzed the water budget in the BRCs, to determine their effectiveness in filtering and infiltrating stormwater from roof runoff.


The website URL where information about sustainability research is available:

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.