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UMass Amherst Libraries


Growing healthier communities based on sustainable energy use, agricultural production, building design, economic development and more.

Celebrate your research! Submit your work to the Undergraduate Sustainability Research Award

The Undergraduate Sustainability Research Award promotes in-depth understanding of sustainability topics,
research strategies, and the use of library resources, providing participating students with vital skills they will carry into future academic and vocational endeavors.  The award is funded by the award-winning UMass Amherst Libraries’ Sustainability Fund.

Winners of previous awards can be accessed in the Sustainability Student Showcase on ScholarWorks, the University’s digital repository:

For more information, contact Madeleine Charney, Research Services Librarian
413-577 0784,
First Prize $1,500 scholarship; Second Prize (2) $750 scholarship
Not accepting applications at this time. 

Higher Education, Green Building, Performance Services




  • Be a full- or part-time UMass Amherst undergraduate enrolled in any discipline and at any level; student teams may also apply. 
  • Have completed a research paper or project for a credit-bearing course at UMass Amherst during Spring 2019, Summer 2019 or Fall 2019 semesters.
  • Submit all FIVE parts, including the project and supporting materials via Box (see instructions below).
  • If awarded, agree to add your project to ScholarWorks, the UMass Amherst digital showcase (with a Creative Commons license of your choosing)
  • If awarded, present your project at a library event in April (date TBA).  
  • You can view award winning projects in the Student Showcase on ScholarWorks.


  • All application  materials due by Feb 28, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. (No late submissions accepted) 
  • The review team will select and notify three finalists/teams by March 13, 2020.
  • Three finalists/teams present their projects at a library event in April (date TBA). 

Application Materials - A Five Part Process

1) Cover Sheet

         Complete this cover sheet, preferably on the same day as you submit all the materials. 

The following materials should be submitted via BOX and and shared with (see instructions in the box to below).

2) Your research project (or group project)

  Note that non-text projects are eligible as well.  Project format possibilities include:

  • Research papers (minimum 2,500 words)
  • Theses
  • Design projects
  • Multimedia projects (e.g. film, video, websites)
  • Fine/performing arts (e.g. performances, installations, musical compositions, sculpture, etc.)

3) Nomination letter

         Include a signed nominating letter from a faculty member familiar with your research. You may submit one additional letter of support from another faculty member if you wish. Letter(s) must be signed by the faculty member. You may scan the letter and upload it via BOX or ask the faculty member(s) to submit it themselves to

4) Research Strategies Essay

         Write and submit a 500-1000 word essay describing your research strategies and use of library resources and services. Begin the essay with an abstract that makes clear your project's contribution to sustainability (environmental, social, and/or economic). In the essay, describe your research process. For example: selecting and refining your topic; selecting library databases; research strategies (e.g., keywords and other search techniques applied in database searches); use of library services, including consultations with a librarian.  A range of sources is encouraged. For example: books, articles, conference papers, government documents,  archives, interviews, technical reports, statistics, data sets, and audiovisual materials.

5) Bibliography

        The bibliography is mandatory (regardless of whether or not your professor originally required it) and must conform to a standard output style (e.g., MLA, APA, etc.).

How to Submit via BOX

To submit your proposal, please upload it via BOX. 

Step 1: Log into your UMass BOX account

Step 2: Upload your proposal

Please include your name and USRA in the file name

Step 3: Change the green text from "Peope in this folder" to "People in your company"

Step 4: Enter email address

This will make the file shareable with Madeleine Charney

For technical assistance with the submission process, please contact  UMass IT

Review Process

The review panel will be comprised of a librarian, a faculty member, and a staff member from the Library’s Office of Communication & Development.

The following criteria will be used for evaluating project submissions:

1) Effect for sustainability change or broader sustainability awareness/appreciation (environmental, social, and/or economic) 

2) Research Strategy (methodology; variety of sources; depth and breadth of topic)

3) Technical Criteria (consistency of citations, adhering to all requirements)

4) Writing/Design (effectiveness of writing; use of sources; design of multimedia/art work, if applicable)

5) Faculty Comments