UP Students & Sustainability | University of Portland

UP Students & Sustainability


These students are advancing campus conversations on climate change and sustainability with these recent projects, including competition entries, capstones and on-campus research.

Student Project Highlights

Shiley Green Roof Rehabilitation

Shiley Hall, home of the Donald P. Shiley School of Engineering, is a LEED Platinum building. A green roof was installed on the roof, adjacent to classroom space, in 2010. Since then students have incorporated the roof into their research and study projects. Most recently students planted 3 small sections (7’x7’ each) with mixed sedums, purple thyme, and mixed stonecrop last week. They plan to monitor each section to determine which plants thrive on the roof, and continue weeding/planting next year.

EPA Rainworks Challenge Capstone Team


  • Liz Diaz-Gunning '22
  • Melissa Hamling '22
  • Bryson Tamaye '22
  • Sean Yoshinge  '22

These four civil engineering students participated in the EPA Rainworks Challenge Competition, a green infrastructure design competition that’s open to student teams from any American college or university. The EPA RainWorks team was tasked with implementing innovative stormwater management techniques on the UP campus, as well as showcasing the environmental, economic, and social benefits of green infrastructure practices. This project focuses on improving existing stormwater infrastructure and reducing outdoor water use at UP. To read more about this capstone project and learn more about Shiley School of Engineering, click here.

Microplastics in Stormwater Research


  • Liz Diaz-Gunning '22
  • Mary Stone '22
  • Kerigan Bermani '22
  • Dagny Battaglino '23
  • Abby Radke '23
  • Maya Struzak '24

Microplastic particles, ranging from 5mm to 0.01 mm, are a prominent source of pollution. Stormwater is a major contributor of microplastics to surface water systems, although the magnitude of microplastic pollution in stormwater is unknown. This study quantifies and characterizes microplastics found in stormwater and evaluates the efficiency of microplastics removal in bioretention cells. The study was funded by the Shiley School of Engineering and Oregon Sea Grant.

Metals and Nutrient Removal in Pervious Pavements Research


  • Jackson Kaye ‘24

Permeable pavements have the potential to be a useful tool for mitigating stormwater runoff from streets in urban areas. This research will evaluate the water quality of stormwater that flows through permeable pavements. Two types of permeable pavement will be tested: pervious concrete and porous asphalt. Test specimens will be made in triplicate, and allowed to cure. Stormwater will be collected and used to conduct 5 tests on each specimen. Influent and effluent samples will be taken throughout the duration of the tests, and analyzed for copper, zinc, total nitrogen, ammonia, nitrate, total phosphorus, phosphate, and pH. Influent and effluent results will be compared to evaluate pollutant removal to evaluate the water quality effectiveness of pervious pavements.

EGR 111 Litter Pickup

As part of the Introduction to Engineering Computing (EGR 111) course, students complete a project related to plastic pollution and litter. The students collect and characterize litter using an app called Litterati. They then analyze the data they collect (such as location, material, and type of litter) using MATLAB and propose potential solutions. Students have collected over 8,000 pieces of litter to date!