News & Events

Congratulations to Paige Novak and Natasha Wright on receiving Sustainable Development Goals Research Grants

Paige Novak, Principal Investigator
Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geo-Engineering
College of Science and Engineering, U of M Twin Cities

Wastewater treatment protects the environment and human health. Conventional wastewater treatment is energy-intensive and complex, making it impractical for rural and under-resourced communities. “Low-tech” wastewater treatment technologies exist that can be leveraged globally for improved sanitation, such as wastewater treatment ponds, but unfortunately, the factors that control pond performance are poorly understood. Because the basis of operation for ponds is microbiological, studying the pond microbiome should allow us to determine the extent to which treatment performance is controlled by deterministic mechanisms, and within those factors under engineering control, which are the most important. Such an approach is far easier than performing large-scale time- and space-intensive sampling campaigns, yet should yield similar information. This research is addresses outcomes related to SDGs #6 and #11 while also touching on SDG #13.

Novak SDG goals

Natasha Wright, co-Principal Investigator
Department of Mechanical Engineering
College of Science and Engineering, U of M Twin Cities
Carlye Lauff, co-Principal Investigator
Product Design Program within the Department of Graphic Design, Apparel Design, Retail Merchandising, and Product Design
College of Design, U of M Twin Cities

Sustainable development work requires front end research to understand the social, political, cultural, and economic environment, and to define current problems and opportunities. This early research often involves interviews with stakeholders in the community. Historically, little to no formal interviewing training has been provided to team members or community participants. Team members trained in interviewing have been shown to produce more accurate and in-depth information, as well as drive innovative outcomes. However, there is little understanding on how the background of the interviewers and level of “readiness” to interview in the field can influence the type of information provided during field interviews. This project has two goals: 1) to locally train Afghan women and Alight personnel to conduct interviews and extract insights related to a project of interest, and 2) a more global goal of disseminating best practices to interview that can be applied to all projects in sustainable development. This project relates to outcomes tied to SDGs #3, #5, #10 and #16. 

Wright SDG goals