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Faculty, staff, and students who are at the forefront of environmental efforts at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, were honored last week during at a ceremony held in Circle Park.

Gordie Bennett, UT’s sustainability manager, and Jay Price, UT’s environmental coordinator, presented the Environmental Leadership Awards to four members of the campus community.

ELA Winners
From left to right: Claudia Rawn, Ruth Anne Hanahan, Jay Price, Gordie Bennett, and Maria Rosales.

Maria Rosales

A senior majoring in environmental studies, Rosales won the Ryan Edwards Memorial Award for undergraduate environmental leadership. She is the head intern at the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and helped plan several events for young environmental leaders, including the annual Tennessee Alumni and Students for Sustainable Campuses Summit.

Rosales was instrumental in helping the campus earn a STARS Silver Rating for its sustainability efforts. She has also been a strong supporter of the Billion Dollar Green Challenge, a national effort to establish revolving funds for energy efficiency at colleges and universities.

This semester, Rosales traveled to two national conferences to present papers on the role of students in promoting UT’s sustainability initiatives.

ELA Winner Carlos Gonzalez
Carlos Gonzalez, right, receives and Environmental Leadship Award from UT Sustainability Manager Gordie Bennett.

Carlos Gonzalez

A materials science and engineering graduate student, Gonzalez won the graduate student environmental leadership award.

Since fall 2011, Gonzalez has promoted campus beautification by organizing several events to improve the areas outside UT’s engineering buildings. Two projects involved sweeping sidewalks and collecting trash around the engineering complex. A third event involved generating funds to create a large flowerbed outside Dougherty Engineering and plant a number of shrubs.

During the 2011 Engineers Day, Gonzalez developed and hosted a competition that challenged visiting K-12 students to power a battery with food.

Ruth Anne Hanahan

Hanahan, a senior research associate with the Tennessee Water Resources Research Center (TWRRC), part of the Institute for a Secure and Sustainable Environment, won the staff environmental leadership award for her role in providing opportunities for UT and community members to gain meaningful, real-life experience in understanding, enhancing, and protecting the environment.

During her sixteen-year tenure with UT, Hanahan has managed the Knoxville Water Quality Forum’s Adopt-a-Watershed program in fifteen local K-12 schools, mentored 112 CAC AmeriCorps members from all over the country, and touched the lives of more than 22,000 students.

In addition to her responsibilities with the TWRRC, Hanahan involved students with integrated biotic integrity (fish shocking) studies, stream bank restoration, installation and maintenance of rain gardens, litter pickups, and creation of water quality publications.

In 2011, Hanahan worked with UT Athletics to coordinate a stream cleanup event for seventy members of the rowing team and others.

Claudia Rawn

Claudia Rawn, assistant professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering and the new associate director of the Center for Materials Processing, won the faculty environmental leadership award.

As co-director of UT’s Sustainable Technology through Advanced Interdisciplinary Research (STAIR) program, Rawn led research and teaching on the discovery of nanoporous materials for hydrogen storage.

Rawn also is extensively involved with community outreach activities, including co-organizing a summer Materials Camp for teachers and preparing a STAIR booth at the annual Oak Ridge Earth Day celebration.

Now in its sixth year on campus, Earth Month promotes environmental awareness, conservation, and sustainable practices to the campus community.

For a recap of UT’s Earth Month festivities, visit the Make Orange Green website. To learn more about Office of Sustainability initiatives, visit

C O N T A C T :

Gordie Bennett (865-974-7780,