The Sustainability Scholars Program is an innovative paid internship program. We match UBC graduate students with on- and off-campus sustainability partners to work on applied research projects that advance sustainability across the region.
Apply your research skills to real-world sustainability challenges
Get paid and gain valuable professional work experience
Develop applied skills and knowledge under the guidance of a mentor
Build your professional network and enhance your career prospects

How It Works

The program is open to full-time UBC graduate students from any program or discipline. As a Sustainability Scholar, you work under the guidance of a mentor on an applied research project that supports their organization's sustainability goals.

Apply

UBC Sustainability Scholars work on applied research projects across a wide range of environmental, economic and social sustainability topics. See our list of current paid internship opportunities.

Project Library

The Scholars Project Library contains hundreds of reports, charts, tool-kits, and more, documenting the applied research produced by Scholars since 2010. A useful body of knowledge to support further research around sustainability.

Meet the scholars

UBC Sustainability Scholars come from all kinds of backgrounds and academic disciplines. Scholars stand out for being passionate about sustainability, having a strong work ethic, and for their applied research skills.

Partner with us

Partner organizations are essential to the UBC Sustainability Scholars Program. Partners provide work experience for UBC graduate students and benefit from their applied research.

About Scholars

Sustainability Scholars’ projects have been helping to move the dial on sustainability across the region for over 10 years. Find out more about our history, milestones, and impact.

Project Library

This project investigates strategies to minimize embodied carbon in the construction of Vancouver's single-family homes. It includes three homes, all built to the Passive House standard, and assesses the suitability of three embodied carbon calculation methods. The results will guide building industry professionals towards a greater understanding of embodied carbon, how to calculate it, and how it can be reduced through careful consideration of construction materials and structural features.

Partner: ZEBx
Keywords: green buildings

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2020
Oriana Vanderfleet

This project aims to improve secondary disinfection (drinking water re-chlorination) practices to ensure high drinking water quality throughout Metro Vancouver and optimize resource use in the disinfection process. The report includes an analysis of historical drinking water quality trends, identification of areas potentially vulnerable to water quality decline, and suggestions for improving current re-chlorination practices in the context of resource management and potential future trends in water quality.

Partner: Metro Vancouver
Keywords: water

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2020
Tracy Wang

This project details the types of vegetative debris generated by agricultural production, and relevant management strategies used in the Metro Vancouver region. The broader project goals included  consideration of the impacts on local agricultural producers and enhancment of environmental health. The report presents an inventory of agricultural vegetative debris, details of common waste management strategies, a summary of current barriers to recycling or reusing this debris, and opportunities for utilizing waste reduction technology.

Partner: Metro Vancouver
Keywords: food systems, waste management & recycling

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2020
Amy Sigsworth

This project aims to inform and support visitor use management planning for Metro Vancouver Regional Parks in order to sustainably manage park visitors, visitor experiences and natural and cultural resources. The report discusses methodologies used for measuring and establishing carrying capacity of parks and a set of case studies highlighting best practices, informed by conversations with park managers and planners in the country and beyond, and on a review of relevant scientific literature.

Partner: Metro Vancouver
Keywords: ecological systems, social sustainability, sustainable development & green economy

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2020
Hyeone Park

Urban stormwater runoff is a complex mixture of pollutants originating from rooftops, pavement wear, tire wear, spills and leaks, organics from birds or animal wastes, and other chemicals. Traditional filtration and infiltration media-based stormwater treatment systems can be improved by using engineered media like activated carbon and biochar. This project explores the current state use of research on the pollutant removal efficiencies of these media and their application on field.  

Partner: Metro Vancouver
Keywords: sustainable development & green economy, waste management & recycling, water

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2020
Archita Borah

The literature and practices to do with green infrastructure (GI) and source control (SC) measures are continuously evolving. This project reviews the information gaps and new research and guidance on the six source control measures noted in the Metro Vancouver's Stormwater Source Control Design Guidelines (SSCDG) and sheds light on emerging source controls identified through a reviow of the literature review and local site visits.
 

Partner: Metro Vancouver
Keywords: green buildings, water, urban sustainability

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2020
Farah Rawas

This project aims to determine the sources of microplastics in wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) in Metro Vancouver, and to determine the environmental effects that occur when biosolids, a WWTP product containining microplastics, are used as a soil amendment. A database was generated, listing businesses that are likely contributors of microplastics to WWTPs in Vancouver. The database ranks those businesses in order of priority for intervention by Metro Vancouver.

Partner: Metro Vancouver
Keywords: water, microplastics

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2020
Erin Evoy

The goal of this project is to identify potential significant dischargers within Metro Vancouver that could impact sewerage area infrastructure and/or the environment. A database of businesses was created based on discharge risk potential for parameters of interest. This database will facilitate investigation of unusual events and aid enforcement efforts by highlighting potential dischargers that may be required to have a waste discharge permit.

Partner: Metro Vancouver
Keywords: waste management & recycling, water 

 

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2020
Sean Mercer

This report explores the impacts of the climate crisis on mental health and wellbeing, specifically in the context of post-secondary education. The report includes a review of current research on the climate crisis and mental health, how the issue may be understood within post-secondary education, and the ways post-secondary institutions are currently addressing these issues. From a systemic understanding of mental health, the report then provides recommendations to guide further action.

Partner: UBC Sustainability Initiative
Keywords: social sustainability, sustainability in education

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2020
Jenalee Kluttz

This project evaluates the long-term impacts of the Healthy Workplace Initiatives Program (HWIP) and the sustainability of the wellbeing initiatives it funds in UBC departments and units. It includes insights on facilitators and barriers to sustaining initiatives beyond the HWIP funding period, best practices for sustained impact, and recommendations for better supporting the embedding of wellbeing in UBC workplaces. Twelve case studies illustrate innovative approaches to workplace wellbeing.

Partner: UBC Human Resources, Health, Wellbeing, and Benefits
Keywords: leadership & behaviour change, social sustainability

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2020
Seri Nimi-Burch

This project proposes the creation of a physical space on campus to provide programs and services aimed at increasing food security on campus and in the community. Through a process of community consultation, our results indicate strong support for the implementation of a physical food hub at UBCO. This report contains a literature review, results from an environmental scan and community consultations, and recommendations for next steps.

Partner: UBCO
Keywords: food systems, food security, food hub 

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2020
Sarah Clement

Thrive is a Mental Health Literacy campaign for the UBC community. The objectives of the research were to explore the needs and expectations of the UBC community with regards to mental health promotion in the context of COVID-19 and beyond. It includes recommendations for how Thrive can support the promotion of mental health and communication of mental health literacy information.  

Partner: UBC Wellbeing
Keywords: social sustainability

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2020
Hannah Barnard-Chumik

The project aims to examine and understand the application of certification programs and voluntary standards to inform the implementation of a healthy beverage designation program at UBC. The report contains information on best implementation practices in university campus and other settings, recommendations, and implementation and evaluation criteria for a designation program that will promote the consumption of healthy beverages on UBC campuses.

Partner: UBC Wellbeing
Keywords: food systems, leadership & behaviour change, water

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2020
Balanding Manneh

This research explains how First Nations in B.C. envision culturally-appropriate and energy-efficient homes and buildings, the role that building standards play in the development of new construction, and barriers and successes First Nations are experiencing implementing new construction projects. The report also includes nine recommendations for how the Province can support the development, modification, and implementation of culturally-appropriate and energy-efficient new construction.

Partner: Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources
Keywords: green buildings, indigenous housing, culturally-appropriate design  

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2020
Jenna Hildebrand

The objective of this project is to assess the hazards and risks associated with the chemical ingredients used in patient care products in BC's health care facilities. A chemical screening framework that includes human health and environmental hazard criteria is utilized to assess the risk and further classify the chemicals into different hazard categories. A chemical ingredient inventory database and a recommendation of chemicals to avoid are also included.

Partner: Vancouver Coastal Health
Funded by: Fraser Health
Keywords: supply chain management & green procurement, waste management & recycling, zero toxicity 
 

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2020
Anuradha Ramachadran

This project aims to further the body of research on how a circular economy can be applied to plastics in health care. Key topics covered in this report are: circular economy principles and best practices, special considerations, senior leadership and stakeholder engagement, and steps to transition to circularity. This project also aims to identify and develop a preliminary plan for a CE initiative that focusses on a priority healthcare plastic.

Partner: Vancouver Coastal Health
Keywords: leadership & behaviour change, social sustainability, circular economy 

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2020
Shayna Moore

This report lays the foundation for carbon accounting for Metro Vancouver's biosolids land application program by looking at historical work, interviewing industry professionals, and creating a list of considerations for future work. Future considerations include: soil carbon sequestration factors; biomass carbon storage; GHG emissions from soil, stockpiles, transport, and application; biosolids characteristics; fertilizer displacement; pre- and post-application field measurements; and regular monitoring.

Project Partner: Metro Vancouver
Keywords: sustainable development & green economy, waste management & recycling, biosolids

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2020
Connor Robinson

One of the biggest challenges in attracting transit ridership is the first-and-last mile problem. While transit can provide an efficient, cost-effective and quick journey for heavily traversed routes; the low density first-and-last mile poses challenges. This project seeks to investigate the role of one-way carsharing in bridging the first-and-last mile connection to transit through a spatio-temporal analysis of ridership data of trips by BCAA's Evo carshare members in Metro Vancouver.

Partner: TransLink & BCAA/Evo
Keywords: sustainable development & green economy, transportation

2020
Neha Sharma

This project aimed to help TransLink assess the impacts of the proposed implementation of fare capping by studying consumer preferences and ridership impacts. It reviewed literature from behavioural science and transportation studies to examine how human behavioural biases influence transit ridership. Findings were used to design an experiment of how fare capping will impact ridership and customer perceptions of fares. Results will inform whether to pursue the implementation of fare capping.

Partner: TransLink
Keywords: transportation, leadership, mobility

2020
Andrea Byfuglien

This project aims to assist further integration between bikes and transit by creating a framework to help plan and prioritize future investment and capital expenditures in bike parking at transit facilities. This includes an assessment of transit facilities and their surroundings to determine opportunities for biking and identify locations that show the most potential for combining bikes and transit to promote sustainable and active transportation. 

Partner: TransLink
Keywords: transportation

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2019
Julia Higson

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