University of Louisiana at Lafayette Graduate School Announces Recipients of Sustainable Development Research Grants

Written byJennifer Ercoli - Director of Grad School Communications


The Graduate School at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette is proud to announce the recipients of the Sustainable Development Research Grants for graduate students. These awards, totaling $40,000, aim to support research that addresses pressing local and global challenges in alignment with the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The purpose of these grants is to showcase UL Lafayette graduate student research, prioritize sustainable development in Louisiana, and highlight the interconnectedness of economic growth, social inclusion, and environmental protection. The awards provide seed money for innovative projects, reward completed projects, and create a portfolio of research that will be showcased at the Graduate Student Sustainable Development Research Summit on April 12, 2024.

These grants are part of a larger collaboration between five campus entities: Academic Affairs—Student and Faculty Excellence, the Graduate School, the Office of Campus Diversity, the Office of Sustainability, and Dr. Brian Bolton, Professor of Finance and the Dwight W. Andrus, Jr. / BORSF Eminent Scholar Endowed Chair in Finance. 

The 2024 Graduate Student Sustainable Development Research Award Recipients: 

Jahidul Alam (English Ph.D. program) Francis Bacon and Early Modern Environment: Exploring How Salomon’s House Refutes His Anthropocene
SDGs 6, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16
Faculty Reference: Dr. Clancy Ratliff

Leticia Andrus (Educational Leadership Ed.D. program)
Diversity Beyond Borders: A Literature Review of the Representation of International Students in Diversity Discourses in American Universities
SDGs 4, 8, 16, 17  
Faculty Reference: Dr. Sebnem Cilesiz

Bipin Bastakoti (Environmental Resource Science (M.S. program)
Soil Health Degradation in the Vermilion-Teche Basin of Louisiana
SDGs 2, 8, 13, 15  
Faculty Reference: Dr. Durga Poudel

Precious Batubo (Earth and Energy Science Ph.D. program)
Analyzing Sedimentary Deposits to Reconstruct Medium-sized Paleo-Tsunami using Deep Neural Networks
SDGs 9, 11   
Faculty Reference: Dr. Gabriele Morra

Katarina Brankovic (Francophone Studies Ph.D. program)
Building a Culture of Inclusivity, Diversity, and Accessibility: Advancing Sustainability at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette
SDGs 4, 11, 16   
Administrative Reference: Dr. Carol Landry

Markashia Brown (Educational Leadership Ed.D. program)
What do we already know about the Financial Literacy of Women & First-Generation African-American Women Students
SDGs 4, 5, 8, 10   
Faculty Reference: Amanda Mayeaux

Redeemer Buatsi (Communication M.S. program)
Reporting Rape in the United States-A Content Analysis of Media Coverage of Rape in the State of Louisiana 
SDGs 3, 5, 16   
Faculty Reference: Dr. Patricia Holmes

Kirsten Cases (Architecture M.Arch. program)
Reacclimating Neglected Infrastructure Through Stabilizing Carbon Dynamics
SDGs 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, 15, 17Faculty References: Professors Corey Saft & Olivia Pontiff

Allison Comeaux (Educational Leadership Ed.D. program)
How Do Post-Secondary Disability Service Accommodations in the U.S. Impact Educational Attainment
SDGs 4, 16   
Faculty Reference: Dr. Amanda Mayeaux

Anamika Das (English M.A. program)
Application of Natural Semantic Metalanguage in cross-cultural meaning analysis: comparing the usage of Bangla happy greetings with American English
SDGs 4, 10, 16, 17  
Faculty Reference: Dr. Mark Honegger

Shayan Ebrahimi (Systems Engineering Ph.D. program)
Accelerating Decarbonization through Digital Twinning
SDGs 7, 9, 12   
Faculty Reference: Dr. Farzad Ferdowsi

Kubiat George (Engineering: Chemical M.S. program)
Synergistic effect of UV and condensation on the degradation of carbon black reinforced EPON-IPD thermosets with high enthalpy storage of shape memory
SDGs 2, 6, 9, 11   
Faculty Reference: Dr. William Chirdon

Holly Heafner (Environmental Resource Science M.S. program)
Environmental inequities and lead toxicity: a geospatial and demographic evaluation of soil contamination in Lafayette, LA
SDGs 3, 4, 10, 11, 16  
Faculty Reference: Dr. Anna Paltseva

Atif Khan (Engineering: Civil M.S. program)
Utilization of Sugarcane Bagasse ash and Rice Husk ash in sustainable construction bricks
SDGs 7, 8, 9, 11, 12  
Faculty Reference: Dr. Md. Jamal Khattak

Farooq Azam Khanzada (Systems Engineering Ph.D. program) Does Automated Enforcement at Signalized Intersections Truly Enhance Safety?
SDGs 11    
Faculty Reference: Dr. Xiaoduan Sun

Deepak Jain Veerendra Kumar (Systems Engineering Ph.D. program)
Advancing Soiling Loss Predictions in PV Systems with Enhanced Models
SDGs 7, 13   
Faculty Reference: Dr. Terry Chambers

Tyrell Lassair (Earth and Energy Science Ph.D. program)
Urban Agriculture as a Strategy to Increase Food Access and Alleviate Food Insecurity
SDGs 2, 3, 4   
Faculty Reference: Dr. Anna Paltseva

Lillian Mambiri (Systems Engineering Ph.D. program)
Bio-fabrication via Stereolithography of 4D Polycaprolactone-based Scaffolds for Osteogenesis, Angiogenesis and Tumor Mechanobiology
SDGs 1, 3, 10, 12   
Faculty Reference: Dr. Dilip Depan

Mahpara Mashiyat(Earth and Energy Science Ph.D. program)
Observations of structural and functional changes in mineral and organic soil wetlands caused by saltwater intrusion events in Louisiana
SDGs 13, 14, 15   
Faculty Reference: Dr. Jorge Villa

Tasnima Supty (Biology M.S. program)
Impact of Childhood Adversity on Neuroinflammation: Exploring the Connections & Implications
SDGs 3, 4, 8, 11, 16  
Faculty Reference: Dr. Karen Smith

Jon-Patric Veal (Psychology M.S. program)
How Variations in Perspective Taking Can Mediate the Effects of Empathy on Implicit Racial Bias
SDGs 10, 16   
Faculty Reference: Dr. Emily Sandoz

Renee Vincent (English Ph.D. program)
When DNR Means 'Do Not Rescue': Hurricane Katrina and Medical Inequity within Disaster
SDGs 9, 11, 13, 15, 16, 17 
Faculty Reference: Dr. David Squires

More information on the Sustainable Development Project can be found here. With Dr. Bolton, the Graduate School will announce another round of competition in April 2024, open to all graduate students, faculty, and other UL Lafayette community members.

For more information about the Sustainable Development Research Awards Program and grant recipients, visit