Compost & Climate Research Interns (Stajye Klima ak Konpòs)

Gavin, Junior, and Darline model the adapted buckets used as chamber bases for quantifying greenhouse gas emissions from the compost piles.

Stajye Klim ak Konpòs: Introducing SOIL’s first Climate and Compost Research Fellows!

Every day, SOIL is showing that ecological sanitation (EcoSan) can provide an impressive array of sustainability benefits. SOIL’s EcoSan model provides dignified sanitation, removes harmful pathogens from the environment, and recycles waste into nutrient-rich compost. Recently, scientists have also started evaluating whether ecological sanitation could be a way to combat climate change, as well.

There are a few key ways EcoSan could be beneficial for slowing or mitigating climate change:

  1. Lower energy consumption: EcoSan solutions transform human wastes into compost using a thermophilic process that requires few inputs (like energy).
  2. Less greenhouse gas emissions: All waste treatment strategies, including composting, emit some level of greenhouse gas. However, the composting waste treatment process may emit significantly fewer greenhouse gases than other waste management strategies.
  3. Improved carbon retention: The compost generated by EcoSan waste treatment can be applied to soil to increase the growth rate of plants, which then increases the amount of carbon stored in the soil, another way to mitigate the effects of climate change.
  4. Improved resiliency to climate change: Finally, compost applied to agricultural lands can help buffer against drought and other climate change impacts by improving the soil’s resilience and retentiveness – its ability to hold water and nutrients.

SOIL is partnering with Dr. Rebecca Ryals and Dr. Gavin McNicol, researchers at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, to do new scientific research that explores these climate impacts in depth and to quantify the climate benefits of transforming human waste into compost.

To support this research, we are launching a new internship program at SOIL called Stajye Klim ak Konpòs (Climate and Compost Research Fellows). The interns are an integral part of the SOIL research team. They will be trained in the latest scientific methods, participate in the field collection of greenhouse gas emissions, conduct laboratory analyses, and manage data.

SOIL Interns

Gavin, Léon, Darline & Junior walk through the ‘echantiyonaj gaz’ (gas sampling) for the first time.

We are excited to introduce our first cohort of fellows:

Léon, Research Supervisor

Léon started working as SOIL’s lab manager after receiving his Biomedical Laboratory license from the Institute Superior de Technologie Medical du Cap-Haitien at the Justinien Hospital University seven months ago. His primary responsibilities as lab manager are organizing the weekly analyses of compost piles for pathogen and nutrients. As part of the new Fellowship program Léon will now become a Research Supervisor and will be organizing and overseeing the collection of gas samples that will be used to understand the climate mitigation effects of SOIL’s waste treatment process.

Léon shared his vision for SOIL as a global leader in combatting climate change:

‘SOIL can become a model for climate management and offer global solutions by drawing on the results of local experience and experiments. The effectiveness of the work at SOIL is already a testament to the idea that we can make progress every day…

 [SOIL] can become a place where we all can work to bring solutions not only for people, but also for nature. I think this is a great service we can provide for the country and the world.’

Darline, Research Intern

Darline, 27, is a student at the Universitè Antènor Firmin Cap-Haïtien where she is completing a 5-year program in Agronomic Sciences. Her 3-4 months as a Research Intern at SOIL are part of a practical year of technical and field experience for her degree. When we asked Darline why she chose to study agronomy, she said:

‘My study of agronomy is closely related to my professional ambitions. I would like to find professional work in my area of learning, and I would like to further advance my studies so I can be of most use to my community.’ 

Junior, Research Intern:

Junior, 27, a classmate of Darline and recent graduate from the Universitè Antènor Firmin Cap-Haïtien had this to say about his internship at SOIL:

‘I am grateful for the opportunity to become a SOIL employee. Looking to my future, I aim to use my knowledge and skills to assist institutions or organizations that want to use my services. I also aim to deepen my knowledge in my particular area of study, which is agronomy.’

The first cohort of Stajye Klima ak Konpos is made possible by a generous donation from John Wick and Peggy Rathmann, who are leaders in advancing the science and responsible use of compost through the Marin Carbon Project (https://www.marincarbonproject.org/). There’s a sweet story behind this donation: John and Peggy gave this donation as a wedding gift for a Marin Carbon Project team member, Sintana Vergana, and her husband, Joe Rand. We are grateful for their support and partnership in supporting cutting edge climate and public health research in Haiti.

If you are interested in supporting SOIL, please consider contributing here: https://www.oursoil.org/get-involved/donate/

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