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HSI Graduate Fellowship Program

Sustainability graduate students wanted

The Hanley Sustainability Institute at the University of Dayton has launched a graduate fellowship program for the 2021-2022 academic year to attract high-quality students with sustainability interests to UD through an internationally-advertised fellowship competition.

Applications are invited for the six specific opportunities listed below, each of which consists of a research project mentored by a faculty member and complementary programmatic efforts within HSI.

Applicants also must apply (separately) and be accepted to the UD graduate program of their choice. Successful candidates will receive financial support in the form of tuition and a stipend, guaranteed for the 2021-2022 academic year and renewable for an additional semester or academic year pending satisfactory progress.

To apply, please send a cover letter describing your interest and relevant experience (including an indication of which opportunity), a curriculum vitae, and an unofficial transcript to For full consideration, please submit your application by Jan. 31, 2021.


Six research opportunities

In an era of climate change, communities grapple with the dual challenge of trying to build resilience capacity to withstand and recover from disaster events while also trying to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Addressing this dual challenge and enabling a just transition requires innovative and creative solutions that achieve multiple objectives: build resilience capacity, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and empower local communities.

This project will examine the feasibility and practicality of integrative sustainable strategies in the City of Dayton, thereby identifying potential practical action. The project will enhance relationships already established with community stakeholders such as the City of Dayton Office of Sustainability and the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission. The project outcomes will benefit and contribute to the advancement of current sustainability and resilience efforts undertaken by these community partners.

The project will equip the HSI Graduate Fellow with in-demand knowledge on synergistic strategies that marry resilience and sustainability, and application skills that could be translated in other community/employment contexts. The project is expected to lead to publications in journals such as Resilience; Society and Natural Resources; Sustainable and Resilient Infrastructure; and Climate Resilience and Sustainability.

This HSI Graduate Fellow will also work with HSI and others on campus to advance the Resilience Commitment that UD has signed with Second Nature. Students may apply to any graduate program at UD, but prospective applicants are encouraged to consider Communication, Interdisciplinary Studies, Master of Business Administration, Master of Public Administration, and Renewable and Clean Energy.

This project will use tree-ring analysis to study the link between forest dynamics and a complex of ecosystem drivers in forests of southwestern Ohio. The ideal candidate is a motivated student who is eager to perform the arduous tasks associated with tree-ring sample collection in steep, forested, terrain in all weather conditions. Field dendrology skills are required and must be balanced by an eagerness to do the work of sample processing and to implement complex statistical analyses.

Demonstrated research experience with tree-ring samples and the ability to work with both a Velmex system and the Windendro software package would be beneficial to the applicant, as would evidence of working with data sets including archiving. This position will include the expectation of teaching one lab a semester in the Department of Biology.

This HSI Graduate Fellow will also work with HSI to advance sustainable landscape efforts on campus, and to help advance a partnership focused on sustainable regional land management with Five Rivers MetroParks, which manages more than 15,000 acres of natural areas in the region.

The longer-term goal is to support science-based approaches to regional land management and to connect expertise at the University of Dayton to on-the-ground natural resources management decisions. For this position, applicants must be admitted to the Master of Science program in the Department of Biology.


Recent research on sustainably minded entrepreneurial firms has examined whether companies with sustainable products are able to keep and expand their sustainability missions when they are purchased by a larger firm. However, little research has examined how the original mission and intent (at the time of founding or early in the life span) impacts the ability of a sustainably and responsibly minded organization to acquire the resources they need to gain access to important supply chains and to gather necessary certifications and designations to successfully compete against other products.

This HSI Graduate Fellow will work on a multi-pronged data collection effort to understand more about the issues that some new responsible and sustainable minded companies face as they try to start, survive, and grow their businesses.

The work will involve qualitative research that may include short day-trip visits to sites/offices/manufacturing facilities of some of these start-ups, as well as in-depth phone calls, discussions and potential choice experiments with founders of firms in these areas. It will also involve collecting secondary data from crowdfunding websites such as to examine how mission, marketing angles/approaches, and other factors impact firms’ ability to raise money for their businesses through the crowdfunding domain.

This HSI Graduate Fellow will also work with HSI and other entities on campus to advance sustainable procurement practices. Students may apply to any graduate program at UD.


This HSI Graduate Fellow will join a national team of scholars to develop a book on the core competencies in sustainability education. The ideal candidate will be a motivated student with writing and editing skills, who has an interest in sustainability pedagogy, narrative, and communication.

The fellow will have the opportunity to work with leaders in sustainability education to co-author publications on the core competencies in sustainability education. This HSI Graduate Fellow will lead in communicating with contributors and coeditors, and assist in writing and editing.

Research on specific topics related to the book project is expected; the fellow will be encouraged to present that work at academic conferences. Housed in the Hanley Sustainability Institute, the Sustainability Program is the newest and fastest growing academic program at the University of Dayton.

The successful candidate will have the opportunity to pursue graduate study in their chosen discipline while applying that knowledge in the interdisciplinary context of sustainability education. Students may apply to any graduate program at UD, but prospective candidates are encouraged to consider English Studies, Communication, Education, or Religious Studies.


This project involves building on a decade-long effort on behavioral activation at a homeless shelter in Dayton. Behavioral activation (an evidence-based practice) provides residents at the homeless shelter with opportunities to engage in productive activities that yield response-contingent reinforcement (a feeling of reward), which increases their productive behavior, sense of mastery, quality of life, mood, and cognition.

This program provides three categories of behavioral activation for shelter residents: (a) enhance self-sufficiency/empowerment; (b) enhance coping and social support; and (c) enhance shelter social environment. In collaboration with Ohio State University Extension, a Shelter Farm has been established on the grounds of the Gettysburg Gateway Shelter for Men (located in a food desert) in order to enhance the nutrition of shelter residents. Previous research suggests that shelter residents who volunteered to work alongside UD students on the Shelter Farm showed decreases in anxiety and improvements in wellness.

\This HSI Graduate Fellow will help sustain and expand the Shelter Farm, recruit and involve shelter residents to assist on the farm, and perform related psychological and/or sustainability-related research. A variety of studies are possible, and examples include (a) determining whether undergraduate students who assist at the Shelter Farm show significant improvements in environmental attitudes (relative to comparison groups) and (b) a comprehensive investigation of the many benefits of the farm for the physical and psychological functioning of shelter residents.

The HSI Graduate Fellow’s research is expected to lead to publications in journals related to community psychology, experiential learning, and/or agricultural/environmental sustainability. This HSI Graduate Fellow will also work with HSI and other campus partners on food-related and/or behavior change efforts to advance campus sustainability. Students may apply to any graduate program at UD.


This project is centered on the next steps in the development of a business waste assessment program, to complement UD’s energy-focused Industrial Assessment Center. This program’s overall goal is to expand UD’s assessment skills to include business solid wastes, student experiential learning, and a strong partnership with Montgomery County.

Depending on the successful candidate’s interests, the work could focus on some combination of revising assessment methodology; conducting informational research on local practices and other options for reduction of waste generation or alternative options for final fate; participating in at least one business assessment; and/or initiating a risk/benefit-assessment approach to site ranking tool, as a method of selecting future areas of waste management education potentially providing the most diversion for a solid waste district.

This project is expected to lead to publications in journals such as Solid Waste Technology and Management and Resources, Conservation, and Recycling. This HSI Graduate Fellow would also engage with HSI and UD’s Facilities Management team on campus waste reduction planning and efforts.

Students may apply to any graduate program at UD, but are encouraged to consider Civil and Environmental Engineering, Engineering Management, or Mechanical Engineering.


Sustainability education at UD: An interdisciplinary process


Graduate Student Success Stories
Sustainability 09.29.20
Summer 2020 HSI work: Temp setbacks implemented; savings being calculated

Hanley Sustainability Institute graduate assistant Jack Rees was part of a team that used temperature setbacks in most UD buildings this past summer to save energy. Along the way, he and UD energy efficiency and renewable energy manager Matthew Worsham learned things about the building systems that have made them more operate more efficiently.

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Sustainability 10.07.20
Summer 2020 HSI work: GAs completing UD’s resilience assessment for Second Nature climate commitment

Hanley Sustainability Institute graduate assistants Lauren Wolford and Meg Maloney are leading the University of Dayton’s resilience assessment as part of UD’s Second Nature climate commitment to plan for climate resilience. They talked to 50-60 community stakeholders about resilience planning in and around Dayton. “Because of what we’re all currently living in, it was really easy to have these conversations specifically around the pandemic,” Wolford said. “It was inspiring to hear from different organizations.”

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Sustainability 09.18.20
HSI graduate student Maloney helped craft Dayton's sustainability report

City of Dayton Sustainability Manager Mark Charles prefers the term sustainability specialist when it comes to Meg Maloney, a Hanley Sustainability Institute graduate assistant who is working with the city. “She’s not just following me around,” Charles said. “She’s actually got her own responsibilities and activities. She helped me with the final touches on the overall sustainability strategy.”

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Sustainability 09.09.20
Summer 2020 HSI work: Expanding composting education and practice

Before University of Dayton students migrated back to campus during a pandemic, Hanley Sustainability Institute graduate assistant Christopher Baldasare saw the need for more composting. “With the emphasis on not going out, I expect more students to be cooking in their residences,” Baldasare said. “This will also give us a chance to pilot online composting education, which was planned in the spring to potentially expand the composting program by making it easier to reach all students that would want to participate.”

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