The New Year and 2022 Reflections

Happy New Year! I always like the new year as it gives one a chance to reflect on the past, the present and the future. This year my resolutions are to get eight hours of sleep/day, to leave the house earlier for things (run late less) and to try pottery throwing (particularly to make bowls!) before the end of 2023.

Also exciting is that this year marks my fifth year anniversary with USC and this recent Jan. 3rd was my one-year anniversary of my now not-so-new job as a sustainability data analyst. I really appreciated the added work-life balance of being on the staff side of things, and the fun and meaningful sustainability work with a great team.

A couple of work highlights from last year include:

  1. Getting to know so many more amazing people at USC, including our Sustainability Team and beyond!
  2. Some fun team events and field trips (some featured above), including trips to the USC Wrigley’s Institute, the CARB facility in Riverside, the USGBC Green Gala and UC Irvine (the latter to see all the amazing things that UCI has done for wellbeing first hand).
  3. Leading the development, distribution and analysis of the sustainabilty literacy and cultural survey
    • I previously blogged about this survey and now you can view the final report here! In a month I will be starting to review and update the survey for our April 2023 rollout. It will be really important to compare results between these two years, as many changes on campus have occured in the past year. (Including USC’s Asgmt: Earth Campaign which likely has helped to spread more awareness about USCs sustainability initiatives).
  4. Collaborating with the sustainability team at Carnegie Mellon University and mentoring a USC student- Brian Tinsley on a project to use keywords and an R package to map USC’s curriculum to the UN SDGs (check out the draft dashboard here, but please note that this is still a beta version). We even did a fun webinar on this for AASHE (view recording here)
  5. Mentoring five masters students at USC through the 2022 Fall CKIDS Datafest in a natural language processing project to map USC research to the UN SDGS. Check out their final project website here. *Note- lots of improvements to this dashboard coming soon.
    • Huge shout out to Alison Chen, Aurora Massari, Bhavya Raman, Ric Xian, and Xinyi Zhang to their hard work on this, and for winning first place for the Best Science Collaboration Practices Award and the Best Data Science Teamwork Award. Many thanks to Professor Mayank Kejriwal for helping to mentor the students in deep learning techniques and for providing feedback on the project! + Thank you to Abigail Horn, Keith Burghardt, Yolanda Gil and Guran Muric for organizing this amazing mentorship program.
  6. Collaborating with USC’s Transportation Department (shout out to David Donovan!) to obtain and analyze our AQMD transportation datasets at USC to estimate our Scope 3 emissions from student, faculty and staff commuting, as well as visualize commuting modes through time to strategize on how we can lower commuting emissions further in coming years.
  7. Being part of USC’s Task Force for Carbon Removal and Offsets (shout out to Hannah Findling, three amazing students (Harold Aaronson, Sean McCalla and Marisa Tremblay) and our newest Associate Director of Carbon Consulting- Brad Haydel for their hard work in leading the meetings and content!
  8. Giving a Microseminar with Dr. Camille Dieterle on “Growing Food, Community and Wellbeing in the Framework of Environmental Sustainability‘ to incoming freshman, with the second day taking place in the UPC Peace Garden (shout out to Professor Dieterle in her leadership in creating this garden)
  9. Collaborating with USC’s Spatial Science institute and helping to lead some fun data collection activities for USC’s sustainability data hub (more datasets coming soon!)
  10. Initiating and working with USC’s Open Access Task Force (shout out to Dr. Silvia Da Costa, Dr. Jennifer Dinalo, Melanie Vicedo and Alyssa Resnick) to promote Harvard’s Open Access Model as a path forward for open access at USC (mainly to implement an open access policy and repository so that all publications can be open access free of charge!). We met with the Academic Senate Executive Board, several faculty councils and the University Research Committee (fingers crossed that more progress is made in 2023!).

Anyhow, I’m ready to dive back into all the fun sustainability work after the long and relaxing break. This year, for the holidays, we went to St. Croix for a week (luckily before the holiday airport chaos). This was the first time my hubby and surfed in the Caribbean (which was super fun although lugging our surfboards and packing them to protect them during the travel was a new experience). We also snorkeled, golfed (well… just my hubby and his mom), worked out and all spent a ton of time on the beach reading (I finished “100 Years of Solitude” by Gabriel García Márquez and highly recommend it!). Of course we also enjoyed some good food and each other’s company. Then, I spent the rest of the break in LA, and tried to catch up on all those ‘someday tasks’….but mainly some good surf (these winter waves are intense!), working out and starting up a new book- “Sapiens” (also a great read that I highly recommend!). More updates coming soon (and a better blog post too…lol).