RIT Doctoral Student Earns Grant to Improve Recycling of Electronic Devices

Brighton Resident Erinn Ryen receives Shields Scholarship for Waste Management Research

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A. Sue Weisler

Erinn Ryen

Erinn Ryen, a first year Ph. D. candidate in sustainability at Rochester Institute of Technology, has been awarded the 2010 Jacqueline Shields Scholarship for Waste Management Research. The award, given by the Air and Waste Management Association, goes to doctoral students conducting original research in pollution prevention, sustainable design and waste reduction. Ryen will utilize the scholarship to improve the recyclability and end-of-life management of electronic devices such as computers and cell phones.

“Electronic waste is a major issue for sustainability advocates and product designers in part because high-tech devices turn over quickly, adding millions of tons of additional product to the waste stream every year,” notes Ryen. “My research will focus on investigating current barriers to reuse and developing new design parameters to increase the recyclability and remanufacture of these devices at the end-of-life.”

Ryen’s efforts will be conducted through RIT’s Golisano Institute for Sustainability under the faculty supervision of Callie Babbitt, an assistant professor at the institute.

“The evolution of product design to better address end-of-life management and material reuse is a key component of the Golisano Institute’s mission and an essential part of the overall effort to better incorporate sustainability in society,” notes Babbit. “Erinn’s research will enhance the integration of sustainable design in product development and assist the institute in making sustainable production a reality in American manufacturing.”

The Air and Waste Management Association is an international trade organization representing more than 8,000 environmental professionals in 65 countries. It awards a wide range of scholarships and grants to students and researchers conducting projects in air quality improvement, hazardous waste reduction and waste management.