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Graduate student brings environmental lecture series to campus

Rajat Saksena, a graduate student at Ohio State, is starting a new lecture series to get students to start thinking about the environment. Credit: Courtesy of Rajat Saksena

Students looking to get involved and learn more about nature on campus do not have to look any farther.

Project Nature is a monthly newsletter and new lecture series started by Rajat Saksena, a Ph.D. candidate and graduate student in mechanical engineering. It aims to bring the younger generation closer to nature, educating them both about the environment and how they can contribute to its preservation.

The project began in September when Saksena noticed the need for volunteers for nature projects, but were uninformed about where to take the first step.

“There is a lack of participation from the young generation, both college students and young professionals,” Saksena said. “It’s not that the young generation is not interested, it’s just that there is a lack of information about how they can get involved.”

Saksena has partnered with the Chadwick Arboretum, Friends of the Lower Olentangy River Watershed and the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission for future projects.

“He is very passionate about the possibility of engaging all students, faculty, staff, alumni and visitors on our campus about the critical role that they can assume in regards to learning about all that they can do to care for our local environment and its ecosystems,” Mary Maloney, director of the Chadwick Arboretum, said.

Saksena takes a passionate approach through his monthly newsletters, which feature upcoming weekend nature events in metropolitan parks and an article about nature facts.

Although metropolitan parks are right in students’ backyards, Saksena said they rarely take advantage of them. To remedy this, Saksena said he offers many educational and recreational programs for the public in his newsletter.

The newsletter is currently circulating to all graduate students, but Saksena wants it to be available for all undergraduate engineering students as well as students in other colleges on campus.

His lectures take a more hands-on approach, featuring speakers from other departments. These talks address what is happening in the environment and ways people can help.

“It can be as easy as spending two hours planting trees, removing litter, eradicating invasive plants or taking the time to note and count species of birds and pollinators throughout our campus,” Maloney said.

Saksena emphasized that his goal is not to preach but to use his newsletters and lectures to spread awareness and show people how easy it is to get involved.

The first Project Nature lecture series discusses the science behind global warming and will take place at 4:15 p.m. Wednesday in E001 Scott Lab with guest speaker Sandip Mazumder from the mechanical and aerospace engineering department.  

The monthly newsletter can be found at https://u.osu.edu/maemega/project-nature.

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