Sustainable UCL


Meet Our Sustainability Interns

Meet the four UCL graduates interning at Sustainable UCL, working on delivering UCL's Sustainability Strategy.

Georgia Cavanagh, Green Impact Kickstarter Intern

7 September 2021

Georgia Cavanagh: Green Impact Kickstarter Intern

Master's student in Environment, Politics and Society and full-time Green Impact Kickstarter Intern at Sustainable UCL, engaging students and staff in sustainability action at UCL.

Georgia Cavanagh, Green Impact Kickstarter Intern

What is your role at Sustainable UCL?

I coordinate UCL’s Green Impact, a UCL-wide environmental competition and accreditation scheme, allowing departments and divisions across the university to improve their environmental impact, support UCL’s Sustainability Strategy and engage peers and colleagues in sustainability across 45+ teams. I also support the management of Sustainable UCL’s communication channels including social media, the website, news articles and MS Teams groups.

In my first month, I was tasked with organising UCL’s prestigious annual Sustainability Awards ceremony to celebrate the sustainability work of students and staff. I successfully ran the ceremony online with 207 attendees, 160 awards, and 3 keynote speakers, delivering speeches on student experience and sustainability, climate justice, and the top sustainability stories across UCL from 2020-21. I engaged attendees with remote activities, including an online discussion board on sustainability topics, a mocktail menu, dressing up ideas, and a social media campaign.

A key part of my role is reviewing the current Green Impact scheme to ensure that it effectively tackles all areas of sustainability at UCL, including how criteria can be adapted to home-working when necessary. Due to my background in student activism, I am keen to extend the scheme from being largely staff-oriented to one with which students and their societies can engage, either through working more with existing staff teams, or through setting up teams of their own.

Why did you want to take up the internship?

During my undergraduate degree, I was involved in numerous environmental projects in my spare time. I was President of the Sustainability Society, General Secretary of the Environment and Social Justice Network, Partner Relations Director of Foodprint with Enactus Nottingham (a social enterprise tackling food waste and poverty), and volunteered for various environmental charities. It led me to realise I wanted a career in the environmental sector and a Master’s in environmental studies. 

I am thrilled to have been accepted for this internship, as I am keen to gain experience and pursue a career in sustainability communications and campaigns. Having led action at my previous university, and experienced the passion of sustainability advocates in a university setting, I am excited to bring my ideas to a new university to effect further change, and work with a new team.

What are you excited to learn during the internship?

I'm keen to explore how I can apply my existing experience in leading student campaigns to a new setting and on a wider scale, and to learn about how a huge organisation like UCL operates. I am always excited to work with others to make sustainable change, and to learn how we can achieve this most effectively.

What do you hope to do in the future?

I hope to pursue a career in sustainability - my ambition one day is to be at the head of a sustainable company or charity where I can create global change. I am interested in pursuing sustainability communications further, as well as my related interests in campaigning and advocacy. If I could tie in my interests in medicine, health, and social justice, that would be ideal.

Joe Fenwick: Plastic Reduction Intern

Master's student in Building and Urban Design in Development, and full-time Plastic Reduction Intern at Sustainable UCL, mapping all of the single-use plastic that UCL currently uses in its supply chain to then work towards reducing plastic waste.

Joe Fenwick

What is your role at Sustainable UCL?

The main goal for my internship is to map all of the single-use plastic that UCL currently uses across its supply chain. The size of UCL and the nature of our supply chain means this is a complex process so we will be starting small, working with individual suppliers to pilot data collection methods, before rolling out a process across the whole university. I am also working on communicating and visualising this information to give live updates and interactive maps showing how UCL is performing regarding our plastic use. Mapping the current picture means we will be able to easily identify the steps we need to take to have the biggest impact in reducing our plastic waste. To complement this, I am involved in plastics-related campaigns such as ‘Plastic Free July’, as well as creating and trialling new ways to collect and manage waste to make campus a healthier, cleaner, and more sustainable place for students and staff.

Why did you want to take up the internship?

This internship is a fantastic opportunity for me to build on my academic experience while also working in a field that really motivates and interests me. I am a Chemistry graduate, and currently nearing the end of a Master’s degree in Building and Urban Design in Development at The Bartlett Development Planning Unit. Through my Master’s degree, I have specialised in sustainable infrastructure and public services, focussing on how equitable and just infrastructure provision can also create healthier, more sustainable environments. The internship, therefore, allows me to gain valuable insight into the work behind the ‘sustainability goals’ we read and hear so much about in the news, while gaining professional experience that is relevant and suits my interests seemed like such a valuable opportunity, and I am really grateful to contribute to this work.

What are you excited to learn during the internship?

I'm really looking forward to developing the skills and debates from my academic journey in the professional world and learning how I can best contribute to a more sustainable future. Fostering collaborative working relationships between different organisations and suppliers is going to be key if we are to make the kind of systemic changes required to address the array of global issues that seem to be mounting with increasing pressure, and this internship is a great pathway for me to understand what this looks like day to day. 

What do you hope to do in the future?

I hope to take the experience I gain from this internship into the field of infrastructure and public services, perhaps working for a city government or NGO pursuing more just and equitable access to city life, while prioritising the health of citizens and the planet.

Pierce Byrne: Climate Hub Coordinator Intern

UCL Human Sciences BSc Graduate and full-time Climate Hub Coordinator Intern at Sustainable UCL, coordinating and communicating the launch of UCL's new 'Climate Hub' and Climate Campaign in the lead up to COP26.

Pierce Byrne

What is your role at Sustainable UCL?

As Sustainable UCL’s ‘Climate Hub Coordinator Intern’ I focus on effectively coordinating and communicating the launch of UCL’s new ‘Climate Hub’ and Climate Campaign in the lead up to COP26. I do so by supporting the Communications Team (Chiara Morfeo, Hannah Biggs and Joanna Marshall-Cook) around social media output and strategy, organising outreach events and engaging with COP26 focused academic groups. My main goal is to engage UCL’s community and wider stakeholders with the vast array of climate activities occurring within the institution, and to create and optimise an ecosystem of climate collaboration and action. 

I am really excited to be joining the team at such a transformational moment. As a side-role, I am also supporting Hannah with one of UCL’s flagship campaigns ‘Wild Bloomsbury’ where I can. Urban Neowilding is a passion I wish to take with me into the future, and I am thankful to be able to see how a project like this is coordinated effectively. 

Why did you want to take up the internship?

I believe that academic institutions such as UCL hold a critical responsibility to drive climate action in both the public and private sphere. Thus, when I came across this amazing opportunity to support the Sustainable UCL team in coordinating the launch and growth of the new Climate Hub and Climate Campaign, I couldn’t think of a better place to begin my sustainability journey. 

This internship is giving me the opportunity to experience the many angles required to launch effective sustainability campaigns across large organisations and be surrounded by experienced professionals whom I am able to learn from. I am grateful to be in a position where I can gain practical experience in communicating and coordinating high-profile sustainability projects.

What are you excited to learn during the internship?

I am most excited to work within a passionate and enthusiastic team of environmentalists. I truly believe that together, a community with a mission like Sustainable UCL, creates an atmosphere and the optimal conditions to impact society and instigate change from the individual to organisation level. I am really thrilled to be gaining practical experience in coordinating and managing high-profile projects, and am looking forward to learning how to engage stakeholders most effectively.

What do you hope to do in the future?

In a world constantly being shaped by a diaspora of different cultures, perspectives and visions, those who aim to drive climate action must master the art of conducting their orchestra; to guide various stakeholders, to intertwine visions and harmonise people’s voices. My mission is to help coordinate and catalyse a green transformation in the urban landscape. I aim to be involved with projects looking to bring 360 degree solutions into the field of climate action. I strongly believe that complex problems such as climate change, biodiversity loss and climate justice can only be solved through collaboration between all disciplines. 

Recently, I have been very impacted by the power of artistic expression and the creative industry in instigating individual behavioural change. Being a musician myself, I am working on a few creative projects which aim to address individual eco-conscious behavioural change. 

Darius Filip: Plastics Reduction Intern

Final year Civil Engineering student at UCL and part-time intern, working with UCL's key suppliers and waste management team to help us move towards becoming a single-use plastic free campus by 2024.

Darius Filip

What is your role at Sustainable UCL?

My role within Sustainable UCL focuses on creating a framework for eliminating all non-essential single-use plastic (SUP) items in six key areas (construction, catering, labs, offices, events and logistics), as part of UCL’s commitment to becoming an SUP-free campus by 2024. Some projects have been running for months and have clear key performance indicators, which will enable me to create a plan of action and monitor current progress. However, other projects are still in the research stage, and it is crucial that we understand the full scale of the problem before we design any solutions. 

Why did you want to take up the internship?

Having studied Civil Engineering for three years, I have learned a lot about sustainability, but I was never able to apply my skills beyond the academic context. Therefore, I saw this internship as a hands-on opportunity to engage with various stakeholders across UCL and support the implementation of this sustainability programme. Moreover, I am really interested to collaborate with the construction contractors and identify new opportunities to reduce plastic waste in construction projects. Currently, UCL construction creates 150 tonnes of single-use plastic waste every year (around 25% of UCL’s total plastic footprint), so there is still a lot of work that needs to be done in this area.

What are you excited to learn during the internship?

I am really intrigued to learn more about all 6 key areas where we aim to eliminate SUP plastics. However, what I am even more excited about is learning about the setbacks and challenges each division faces when it comes to producing this change. UCL can be considered a small city, and if we learn what it takes to produce a change in our community and make our campus SUP-free, we can extrapolate this knowledge to create positive changes around the world.

What do you hope to do in the future?

It’s no secret that climate change puts increasingly more pressure on our global community every day, and we have a long way to go until we become a net zero carbon society. But change is on the way, and individuals, industries and governments already come together to stop global warming. I want to be part of this change too, and I hope that the skills I will have gained through my studies, side projects and work will enable me to support this movement. My intention is to start a company that focuses on designing sustainable infrastructure, which I believe will be of utmost importance and have the potential to impact millions in the upcoming decades.