Alumni sustainability takeover
Hot on the heels of COP26 we've been speaking to alumni who are doing great things to help tackle climate change or improve sustainability in their chosen field.
From a leading energy innovator who 'speaks about technical stuff to mainstream audiences', to the founder of an award-winning youth-led African renewable energy think-tank, an entrepreneur who is at the forefront of hydroponics (growing fruit and veg in a nutrient-rich solution) and the director of an urban farm right here in Nottingham − it's a celebration of alumni who all have a passion to make the world cleaner, greener and more sustainable!
Yasmin Ali (Chemical Engineering, 2010)
Yasmin is an energy innovation programme manager for the UK government’s energy department, providing innovation funding, management and technical advice to enable the development of technology for energy system decarbonisation.
In 2020 she was listed in the Women’s Engineering Society’s top 50 female engineers in sustainability. Excitingly Yasmin has just signed a book deal with UK publisher Hodder & Stoughton for Power Up, due for publication in spring 2024. She tells us:
"It is important to understand where we have come from, and why, to move forward. Fossil fuels propelled our society forward and gave many of us the comforts and luxuries we enjoy today, but at the cost of the climate’s health.
"Nations are beginning to wake up to this, and the mass-transition to renewable energy is underway. It will be complex to shift this beast – an interconnected, global energy system, with livelihoods depending on resource mining, geography dependent energy generation, cables, pipelines and shipping spanning continents, and energy users at the end of the system with high expectations.
"Beginning to understand and untangle this complexity is the first step and it is vital that the end users of energy – you and me – are brought along on this journey."
Shrivats Bagaria (MSc Business and Management, 2019)
Shrivats is an entrepreneur who is at the forefront of the farm to fork concept with his 2,000sq ft hydroponics business called Shree Farms. Hydroponics is an innovative method of growing vegetables and herbs in a nutrient-rich solution instead of growing them in soil. It also uses much less water!
The whole lifecyle from seeding to reaching someone’s plate takes up to two months. Things like the pH-levels of the water and the amount of nutrients have to be constantly monitored - sometimes for up to eight times in a day to ensure proper growth. This however, allows Shrivat’s customers to receive their harvests within two hours and he is able to ensure a consistent product.
In Shrivats words, “In hydroponics farming, we control temperature and humidity to ensure the plants are getting their optimum care, apart from the nutrients. I started this due to a personal reason. I used to be very overweight at over 100kg and learnt the value of clean eating when I lost my weight and brought it down to around 70kg. I was in the UK and was a user of hydroponics there but when I returned to Calcutta, I felt its absence.”
Shree Farms supplies produce to some of Calcutta’s top eateries as well as catering to a growing number of individual subscribers.
Catch up with the university's sustainability research
Throughout COP26 and beyond, the university's leading researchers are helping tackle the world's sustainability, environmental and climate change issues - read about their fascinating work, including robot engineers, net zero communities here in Nottingham and much more...
Dr Mohamed Alhaj (Engineering, 2012)
Dr Mohamed Alhaj is founder and director of Clean Energy 4 Africa (CE4A), an award-winning youth-led African think-tank and knowledge platform that promotes renewable energy in Africa through advocacy work, consultancy studies, alongside training and mentoring for young professionals.
In just over two years CE4A has developed the largest digital platform for news on renewable energy in Sudan, with over 50 articles, hosted seven webinars with experts, trained three professionals in its mentorship program, developed and launched its own online research masterclass.
CE4A has been selected by the UN among the top 100 youth initiatives globally that promote its Sustainable Development Goal 7.
Sam Deuchar (MSc Mental Health Research & Psychology, 2019)
Sam's career in sustainability kicked off when he first joined the Cascade-funded Foodprint project in 2016 through Enactus, a student organisation dedicated to social enterprise. Initially his role was in marketing before taking on the lead role in the project - managing volunteers, the store manager and supply chains.
Since the project started, Foodprint has served nearly 1,000 customers with over two tons of food that would have otherwise been wasted. It was through Foodprint that Roots Out was next established in 2018, after being given allotment space in Bulwell, a few miles north of Nottingham city centre, to grow food for distribution through Foodprint, alongside supporting breakfast clubs for children around Nottingham.
To date Roots Out has provided nearly 500 meals and held nearly 50 kids clubs thanks to its hard-working volunteers - all to support some of the city's most disadvantaged people.
Tell us your sustainability story!
We're always keen to hear what University of Nottingham alumni are up to and if you have forged a path in the world of sustainability or are helping tackle climate change let us know! Drop us an email or find us on Twitter.