Alaa Algargoosh is fascinated by sound, so as a Ph.D. student at Taubman College, she studies architectural acoustics. Algargoosh is interested in design and structure thanks to her background in architecture, but she’s also committed to an interdisciplinary approach to understanding aural experiences of physical space. She incorporates psychology and physiology into her work to more fully understand the cognitive, cultural, and perceptual elements of sound. As a 2019 Dow Sustainability Fellow, Algargoosh will be able to further that work by studying the intersection of sustainability and acoustic environments.
The Dow Sustainability Fellowship at U-M supports graduate students as they work to create interdisciplinary and actionable solutions for creating sustainable food systems, mobility, infrastructure, energy systems, and cities. Dow Sustainability Fellows work across disciplines to develop innovative projects on local, national, and global scales. This year, four Taubman College students are recipients of the prestigious awards.
Algargoosh explained that the program’s commitment to interdisciplinary study among fellows is crucial to her work. “I am honored for being selected to join the Dow Fellows community and excited to meet other fellows from across the U-M campus,” Algargoosh said. “I believe that creativity in research flourishes during discussions, and I see this as a great opportunity to advance my research with its interdisciplinary nature. By considering traditional architecture as a source of inspiration for sustainable architectural solutions, and through the utilization of advanced technology in acoustics, my work aims to bring a new dimension to sustainability that takes into account the intangible acoustic environments and their impact on human well-being.”
Interdisciplinary study also is crucial to Joshua Childs’ work. He focuses on housing issues as a dual-degree master’s student in public policy and urban and regional planning. As an undergraduate, Childs studied history and political science, fields that now help him establish context for his current focus on housing sustainability, access, and equity.
“I’m excited to join the Dow program because it’s an opportunity to work with graduate students in other departments who share a passion for sustainability,” Childs said. “I look forward to broadening my understanding of sustainability issues through the multidisciplinary group work. As someone interested in housing policy, this experience will ultimately prepare me to be a better public servant because it will help me better recognize the ways that housing issues play into and interact with broader efforts for equitable, sustainable development.”
Like Childs, Dow Fellow Chris LeFlore is combining his study of urban and regional planning with public policy. LeFlore grew up in Detroit, and his work focuses on creating economic development through transportation.
“I wrote my Dow proposal on creating solutions to the regional transit crisis in Southeast Michigan,” LeFlore explained. “I have spent most of my adult life working on this problem, and it was one of my main motivations for coming to Taubman College. Growing up throughout the region, I am acutely aware of how difficult it is for many people to access opportunity. Hopefully, I can use the Dow Sustainability Fellowship to develop new ideas to combat this problem.”
Urban and regional planning masters student Kimberly Higgins is working on similar issues from a different perspective. “Sustainability doesn’t look the same for everyone: the Dow Fellowship will provide me an opportunity to explore the ways in which sustainable development can support improved equality and accessibility for disadvantaged and marginalized communities,” Higgins said. “I am excited to work hands-on with a multidisciplinary group of Michigan graduate students, which I hope will challenge my perspectives and broaden my understanding of global sustainability issues and solutions.” —Miriam Francisco