Jessica May Vickers, a recent graduate from Bryant University, is leaving behind more than just an extra, empty dorm room.
In the spring of 2013 she received news that she had been accepted into the National Wildlife Federation Emerging Leaders Fellowship Program.
Fellowships are granted to students concerned with not only making their campuses more “green,” but also making entire communities aware of sustainability, pollution, global warming and other environmental issues.
“I was so surprised,” Vickers said. “We had found out about the fellowship program so late and I had to put in an application and a proposal in just three days. I was so excited; I had never had such an immense research opportunity before.”
She then conducted research for over a year on her “No Light Left Behind” project. The project was a feasibility analysis for the implementation of photovoltaic panels to be placed on all of the streetlights throughout Bryant University’s campus. The panels are solar-powered and would light each lamplight.
“People, Planet and Profitability were the pillars of my research,” Vickers said.
She went across the campus to explain her plan for renewable energy and sustainability to professors, students, stakeholders, and entire classes. In her initial survey, nearly 97 percent of people on campus would like to see her research implemented.
Her second aspect of her project was to create a system that would decrease Bryant’s carbon footprint by focusing on renewable energy rather than that energy created with oils, coal and natural gases.
Profitability was a big focus because stakeholders wouldn’t want to invest without seeing some benefits of their own.
“Initially it may seem costly having to install everything, but in the long-term there is a better return on investment when energy costs go down from using solar power,” Vickers said.
Vickers is finishing her research and feasibility analysis and presenting it to Bryant University in hopes that they will eventually invest in her idea and begin implementing photovoltaic panels across campus.
She said, “I am so happy to be leaving behind a legacy at Bryant now that I have graduated. ‘No light Left Behind’ could potentially shift the culture of Bryant to being even more focused on sustainability and innovation.”
Vickers, who is from Montrose, Colo., graduated from Bryant this May with a degree in Environmental Science and a minor in Business. She will begin her graduate studies this fall at the University of Pennsylvania.