Penn State celebrates the 2024 Sustainability Award winners

Students from across the University are being honored for their extraordinary contributions to sustainability initiatives
Art postcards created from marine debris

An image from Pin-Hsuan Tseng's Marine Debris Encyclopedia art project. Participants collected marine debris, documented it, and transformed their findings into artistic postcards. Tseng has been honored with a John Roe Sustainability Impact Award.

Credit: Pin-Hsuan Tseng

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State Sustainability has announced the 2024 recipients of its sustainability awards. These accolades, including the John Roe Sustainability Impact Award, the Student Sustainability Advisory Council Tree Award, and the Pennsylvania Environmental Resource Consortium (PERC) Campus Sustainability Champion Award, commend the extraordinary contributions of students in spearheading sustainability initiatives.

John Roe Sustainability Impact Awards 

Named in honor of the late mathematics professor John Roe, these awards recognize students demonstrating significant commitment to environmental and social sustainability. The 2024 awardees include Jenna Seigworth, Phillip Diouf, Olivia DiPrinzio, Harman Singh and Pin-Hsuan Tseng, with each receiving $1,000 furnished by the Dr. John Roe Fund for a Just and Sustainable Future. Their initiatives span food security, sustainability advocacy, curriculum development, and the integration of sustainability with art, marking widespread achievements across the Penn State community. 

  • Jenna Seigworth, an undergraduate at Penn State Behrend, has made a remarkable impact through her leadership in campus and community food access initiatives. Her efforts have appreciably benefited projects aimed at addressing inequities and promoting inclusion. Seigworth's leadership extends into the Student Garden Club and as a Behrend Sustainability Ambassador, where she has been instrumental in planning and designing the campus’ forthcoming Sustainability Store, showcasing her comprehensive approach to integrating sustainability into campus life. Read more in this Penn State News story.

  • Phillip Diouf, an undergraduate at Penn State Abington, stands out for his dynamic engagement in campus sustainability efforts, with a special emphasis on mental health. Diouf has inspired his peers towards substantial actionable change by merging sustainability with mental well-being. His leadership roles, particularly in organizing initiatives with Counseling and Psychological Services and the Sustainability Council, reflect a holistic approach to sustainability that acknowledges the interconnectedness of environmental stewardship and mental health. Read more in this Penn State News story.

  • Olivia DiPrinzio, an undergraduate at University Park, has seamlessly integrated sustainability into the academic curricula, making extensive contributions to the research on Local Climate Action Plans. Her role as a climate science and education intern has been pivotal in developing initiatives to help transform Penn State’s approach to sustainability education, positioning her as a key figure in fostering a culture of responsible consumption and proactive climate action across the University. Read more in this Penn State News story.

  • Harman Singh, a graduate student at University Park, has distinguished herself through her leadership in environmental restoration projects and as chair of the Earth and Mineral Sciences Sustainability Council Student Committee. Singh's dedication to sustainability is evident in her successful tree-planting initiatives and the innovative "Dodge the Dumpster" campaign, which reduces waste considerably. Her efforts to enhance sustainability education and advocacy, notably through organizing the Penn State Water Conference, demonstrate her commitment to making Penn State a leader in sustainability. Read more in this Penn State News story.

  • Pin-Hsuan Tseng, a graduate student at University Park, has creatively merged art education with environmental advocacy, offering unique perspectives on sustainability. Through initiatives like the Public Art Diary-Dialogue Community and the Marine Debris Encyclopedia project, Tseng has used art as a medium to foster global environmental consciousness and cultural understanding. Her projects not only enhance artistic skills but also contribute to a broader societal appreciation of the intricate relationship between human activity, the environment and society. Read more in this Penn State News story.

Student Sustainability Advisory Council Tree Award 

The 2024 Student Sustainability Advisory Council Tree Award celebrates Vancie Peacock for her exceptional sustainability leadership at University Park, particularly through initiatives like the Schreyer Pocket Garden, which has markedly increased food security. Peacock's work, highlighted by her role with the Student Farm Club and as an intern at the Dr. Keiko Miwa Ross Student Farm, has been instrumental in advancing sustainable agricultural practices and nurturing a more sustainable campus community. A tree will be planted in her honor as a lasting symbol of her commitment and influence, and she will receive a $1,000 award from Penn State Sustainability.

Pennsylvania Environmental Resource Consortium (PERC) Campus Sustainability Champion Award 

The PERC Award celebrates contributions to sustainability by Penn State community members. This year's awardees, Sophia Marsh, Caden Vitti and Jacob Seiler, have shown exceptional leadership in sustainability efforts, ranging from enhancing campus greenhouses and environmental organizations to advocating for climate action and sustainability education. 

  • Sophia Marsh, an undergraduate at University Park majoring in plant sciences and sustainability leadership, has excelled in roles that amplify sustainability across Penn State. Through her work at the Penn State greenhouses, leading the Intersections Film Series, organizing EcoReps initiatives, and serving on the Outreach Sustainability Council, she has made major strides in promoting environmental awareness and action on campus. 

  • Caden Vitti, an undergraduate at University Park, has demonstrated remarkable leadership in sustainability throughout his tenure at Penn State. His initiatives, including the Local Climate Action Program and the Sustainable Lab Ambassadors program, highlight his commitment to environmental and community sustainability. As the executive director of environmental sustainability for the University Park Undergraduate Association (UPUA) and founder of the Student Sustainability Network, Vitti has been instrumental in fostering a culture of sustainability among the student body. 

  • Jacob Seiler, a doctoral student in architectural engineering, has been at the forefront of sustainability advocacy at Penn State. As co-chair of the Student Sustainability Advisory Council and a key member of the Student Sustainability Network, Seiler has played a critical role in advancing the university's 2035 carbon neutrality goal. His efforts in organizing the Sustainability Summit and promoting sustainability across student governments are testament to his considerable leadership in the University's sustainability efforts. 

Douglas Goodstein, associate director for student engagement at Penn State Sustainability, shared his profound admiration for the dedication and impact of the award recipients.

"These exceptional students embody the very essence of proactive change,” he said. “They're not merely planning for future contributions; they're deeply immersed in the here and now, passionately working to enrich our campus life and extend their influence into the broader community. Their actions and commitments bring a vibrant hope to the forefront, exemplifying the significant, enduring legacy they're destined to imprint on the world. Witnessing their journey fills me with an immense sense of optimism and assurance that their endeavors today are just the precursor to the monumental changes they will spearhead in the years to come."

The 2024 Sustainability Awards highlight the comprehensive efforts across Penn State to advance sustainability in education, research, operations, and community engagement. For inquiries or further information about Penn State's sustainability efforts, please visit or contact Douglas Goodstein at [email protected]