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Watercolor Painting


2020 – Present

SAS aims to find creative ways to engage with the UChicago community and Hyde Park by combining science with artistic projects to create meaningful discussions and reflections on our role in current sustainable practices

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In Spring 2023, we conducted and recorded interviews with professionals at or affiliated with UChicago who have found interesting ways to connect their passion for sustainability with their careers. Learn how you can advance sustainable practices with virtually any skillset in a diverse array of fields!

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We transformed SAS's annual "Pumpkin-Off" into a Pumpkin Smash in Autumn 2022. Participants brought their pumpkins leftover from Halloween to be smashed and composted.

Over 20 people attended the Pumpkin Smash, most of which brought their own pumpkins. SAS members also collected discarded pumpkins from around campus for the event, resulting in over 30 pumpkins smashed. We diverted over 200 lbs. of pumpkin waste from landfills.


Wasted Ocean

An art installation funded by the Logan Center Collaboration Grant

Wasted Ocean was a mural of ocean life that hung in the Logan Center North Lounge, made entirely from colorful trash collected by Phoenix Sustainability Initiative from students.

This project sought to present the gravity of sustainability as a fundamental social issue that we still don’t know how to solve, and to contribute to the conversation around what UChicago’s relationship to sustainability should be. Among other questions, the project sought to ask, “Is sustainability possible in a world where single-use items are designed to ultimately find their home in the ocean?”

Science, Art, and Sustainability project group leader Steph Ran documented the group's installation process a video blog. The video walks the viewer from an empty corner of the Logan Center, through the construction process, to a speaker event coordinated by the project group with Dr. Amir Jina.


We aim to highlight perspectives on recent developments in climate science and ecology through presentations from working scientists actively working in these fields. Through our 2021 Science of Sustainability Speaker Series: Environmental Change and Ecological Consequences, each speaker will delve into their research and connect it to broader policy implications or sustainability action.​

SAS speaker series
Dr. Stephanie Jenouvrier speaks about her research on emperor penguin populations and its connection to sustainable development goals.

Our past speakers include:

  • Uma Bhatt (University of Alaska-Fairbanks), sea ice and arctic climate variability

  • Stephanie Jenouvrier (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute), seabirds as indicators of climate change

  • Shannon Nangle (Wyss Institute at Harvard) - microbial technologies for sustainable fat production

  • Eric Post (UC Davis), arctic/tundra herbivores and responses to climate change

  • Anamika Shreevastava (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) -  Effects of extreme heat on urban cities


The SAS project group also encourages the student body and public to engage with sustainability through unique artistic projects.

Our Annual Great PSI Pumpkin-Off competition invites students to creatively repurpose Halloween pumpkins to reduce food waste.

Student submissions to Great PSI Pumpkin-Off competition. Left are two winners for "Best Looking Pumpkin". Right is the winner for "Best Food Use" which included four delicious foods all from one pumpkin.

We designed, constructed, and guided participation for an interactive pop-up mural for middle schoolers at the Gateway to the Great Outdoors Science Carnival in May 2021. Students engaged with annual plastic pollution data from Rochester Institute of Technology by painting the mural like a giant coloring book, with each image of plastic equating to 200,000 pounds of real-life plastic in the lake.

Volunteers at GGO's Science Carnival paint between groups of middle school students. The finished mural now hangs in a John Fiske Elementary School science classroom. 


We focus another aspect of our work on finding innovative ways to improve sustainable habits in our daily lives.

  • We created a PSI Holiday Leftovers Recipe Book (see Resources page) that has recipes from the community on creative ways to reuse holiday meal leftovers to reduce food waste. 

  • SAS piloted a Amazon & Plastic Bag Recycling Initiative to encourage separate collection and recycling of Amazon packages, plastic bags, and other plastics that are currently unrecyclable by the city of Chicago. This pilot project, in collaboration with Campus Waste Reduction, was implemented in Woodlawn dorm in collaboration with five houses in order to collect data on how impactful this program might be for Housing & Residence Life to implement.​

  • We hosted a seed paper event during Earth Week 2020. Seed paper is a way to recycle your own scrap paper and use it to grow plants. We created a video tutorial for our participants' page that you can see on the Resources page.

Science, Art, and Sustainability project group members

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