Need a Research Question?

The following topics have been identified in partnership with University operational departments and faculty from various academic departments to assist students in identifying potential JP, Senior Thesis and graduate research topics using the campus itself as a living laboratory for sustainability problem-solving.

Please browse below, or use the sorting options to the right to narrow your search by topic or discipline. Contact the Campus as Lab team, Caroline Savage and Gina Talt '15, for more information or questions!

If you have a campus as lab research question that should be included on this list you can submit it using our contact form.

Conduct a full economic analysis of green roofs to evaluate their dollar savings, including: Protection from UV radiation, temperature volatility/HVAC costs, stormwater runoff, air quality, CO2 sequestration, biodiversity, aesthetics. Use data on soil moisture, rainfall, and other meteorological parameters from the Butler green roofs.

Disciplines: engineering, natural sciences, social sciences

What is the difference between the quality of harvested rainwater compared to domestic water? Are the impacts on plants of each different over time?

Topics: landscape, water
Disciplines: natural sciences

What is the optimal ratio of sand:clay:silt for campus plant health? What is the optimal ratio of sand:clay:silt for stormwater mitigation?

Topics: landscape, water
Disciplines: engineering, natural sciences

Conduct an ecological assessment of campus natural systems including habitat types, biodiversity, soil characteristics, and more.

Topics: landscape
Disciplines: natural sciences

Are there differences in water quality between groundwater and surface water on campus?

Topics: landscape, water
Disciplines: natural sciences

Evaluate the baseline heat island effects on the University and investigate cost-effective methods for reducing those effects (e.g. lighter colored asphalt installed at Grounds and Building storage area vs normal asphalt).

Disciplines: engineering

Are current strategies effective at improving the water quality of Carnegie Lake? Which regional strategies would improve it further?

Topics: landscape, water
Disciplines: engineering, natural sciences

Evaluate the costs and benefits of more sustainable equipment options for landscape maintenance (hedge trimmers, weed whackers, leaf blowers, etc).

Disciplines: engineering, natural sciences, social sciences

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