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Concordia celebrates 11 social and environmental change-makers

The 2018-19 Sustainability Research Awards recognize projects ranging from mushroom art to gender-neutral French
April 25, 2019
Fine Arts student Miri Chekhanovich's winning research investigates the development of biomaterial using the natural growth process of mushrooms. | Photo: Timothy Dykes, Unsplash

Eleven Concordia students from across faculties are the latest recipients of the Sustainability Research Awards. They earned the recognition for championing sustainability topics — environmental and social — linked to the university.

"These awards are a wonderful way to recognize the living lab activity that is already happening at Concordia,” says Mark Underwood, CEO of the Sustainable Action Fund (SAF).

Open to both undergraduate and graduate projects, the awards are a collaboration between the SAF, Faculty of Arts and Science and Faculty of Fine Arts. To be eligible, research initiatives need to be undertaken as part of course work.

On April 11, students, faculty and community members were on hand at the Floating Box in the John Molson (MB) Building to applaud the winners. Each recipient received between $800 and $1,500.

“Students and faculty members are working hard to make our community more sustainable,” Underwood says. “It's really great that the faculties of Arts and Science and Fine Arts are joining us in celebrating that."

Miri Chekhanovich and Mark Underwood Miri Chekhanovich and Mark Underwood

The power of fungi

Miri Chekhanovich, a graduate student in the Faculty of Fine Arts, was one of this year’s recipients. Her winning research investigates the development of biomaterial using the natural growth process of mushrooms.

“The goal is to create an environment that can demonstrate and advocate for new building materials that can replace our current excess use of plastic,” she says.

Chekhanovich is part of a research cluster at the Milieux Institute for Art, Culture and Technology. She also received support from the Éric St-Pierre Sustainability Student Project Fund. It provides an additional $1,500 to help implement projects in the Concordia community that tackle greenhouse gas emissions.


Gender-neutral French

Promoting social sustainability research is an important aspect of the Sustainable Research Awards. This element is often neglected when sustainability is understood as a purely environmental goal.

Julia Maksymetz, an undergraduate student in the Département d’études françaises, won for her research into the effects of language on gender non-conforming and queer people. Her project looks at how gender-neutral French can foster inclusivity and shifts in cultural conceptions of gender amongst French speakers.

“I feel very grateful that research on the language tools and changes that increase social visibility and social connection for non-binary and queer people can be recognized as a contribution to the culture of sustainability at Concordia,” Maksymetz says.

Her research will culminate in the publication of a zine featuring lived experience, social theory and visual associations. The intent is to make knowledge, language and experience more accessible to the Concordia community.

Call for proposals

During the fall 2019 term, SAF will put out its next call for research projects. The group is hoping to bring in even more participants, notably from business and STEM fields.

Learn more about this year’s
Sustainable Research Award winners and the Sustainability Action Fund.

Visit the new Sustainability Hub at Concordia.


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