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College issues inaugural Social Innovation awards

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

LAWRENCE – The University of Kansas has presented its inaugural Social Innovation awards for undergraduate research.

Danny Anderson, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, initiated the award to support Jayhawks as innovators, thoughtful risk-takers and global citizens.

Anna Dietz and Sisi Srisutiva won the Social Innovation Award with their proposal, “Nutrition in Loreto.” Dietz is a sophomore from Lawrence majoring in environmental studies, and Srisutiva is a sophomore from Lawrence majoring in chemistry. They were awarded $5,000 from Anderson to put their plan into action.

Dietz and Srisutiva’s project will address malnutrition in the Amazon. They plan to work with an existing health organization, an Amazon superfoods expert and a graphic designer to create waterproof nutritional pamphlets and educational workshops. The project will benefit the impoverished community of Loreto, Peru.

Four projects were presented by students in a fast-pitch format after months of research and proposal work. Students also sought insight and guidance from alumni mentors active in professional and academic fields.

The students presented their proposals to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Advisory Board on April 12. The board selected the winning proposal based on how the proposal would help solve the presented problem, if the plan was plausible in the near-term, and whether the budget and timeline were achievable.

The other projects and presenting students:

  • “Anti-Human Trafficking” – Ashlie Koehn, from Burns, junior in environmental studies and Russian and Eastern European studies; Miranda Wagner, from Shawnee, junior in economics and psychology
  • “Children’s Stories” – Rachel Seitz, from Hutchinson, junior in anthropology and English
  • “SolarSips” – Julia Dury, from Blue Springs, Mo., sophomore in civil engineering

All the students received positive feedback on their proposals from the advisory board. Several board members offered to connect the students with professional colleagues whose experience and support could bring the projects to fruition.

The Social Innovation Award is funded by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, which encourages learning without boundaries in its more than 50 departments, programs and centers. Through innovative research and teaching, the College emphasizes interdisciplinary education, global awareness and experiential learning. The College is KU's broadest, most diverse academic unit.