The University of Texas at Austin
School of Undergraduate Studies
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Daniella Lewis

Daniella Lewis
Major: 
Architecture
BDP Certificate: 
Environment
Graduation: 
Spring 2013

As an Environment BDP student, Daniella researched and planned the implementation of UT’s first micro farm, a continuation of the UT Community Garden project. Her research consisted of covering all bases to make the implementation of the UT micro farm a success, including documenting precedent projects from other university campuses, defining project objectives, selecting technologies for irrigation and pest control, and developing a calendar for garden maintenance.

“This connecting experience has profoundly shaped both my university experience and my future plans beyond graduation. I discovered and have started to explore my passion for food, society, and the environment.”

Describe your research project and how you came up with the idea.
My Connecting Experience research project was based on the UT Micro Farm, an on-campus student-run farm. A class project that turned into a Green Fee proposal resulted in preliminary funding for the farm. The farm, however, was in need of more definition and leadership, as well as additional funding. I produced a project overview for the UT Micro Farm, which outlines goals and operational details. I also initiated discussions with potential partners, sought additional funding, and researched similar farms in Austin and around the U.S.

What type of skills did you gain while working on this project?
Overall, I learned quite a bit about bringing an idea to fruition. I acquired presentation and design skills by producing a cohesive yet multifaceted report. In working on this project, I also developed a greater sense of time management, through learning the process and steps that defined my explorations and output. I enjoyed, and came to value, conversing with many different people, who each offered their unique advice, experience, and expertise.

Discuss the relationship that you had with your faculty mentor and how he/she helped you with your project.
As an undergraduate student, I valued the opportunity to have a faculty mentor to interact with throughout the semester. My faculty mentor was Stephen Ross in the School of Architecture, whose classes require engagement with the local community. I conducted my research with great freedom, and sought advice from Professor Ross when faced with particular challenges. He encouraged my progress by sharing articles and initiatives that related to my work. I accompanied his class on field trips to local nonprofits and other organizations, which provided me with inspiration and renewed energy.

How did this experience connect to your BDP topic?
Farming is an environmental act. Farming methods and practices around the world directly influence environmental care or degradation with profound consequences. Modern transportation, distribution, and consumption of food further influence the environment.

In what ways has this Connecting Experience shaped your plans for the future?
This connecting experience has profoundly shaped both my university experience and my future plans beyond graduation. I discovered and have started to explore my passion for food, society, and the environment. I am eager to further explore the notions of sustainability, how these notions overlap, and how they can be meaningfully developed between distinct academic disciplines.